Experts reveal 7 narrow kitchen ideas they've used to get the best out of the space

Our interior designers spill the best narrow kitchen ideas they've come up with to help clients transform their space

Narrow kitchen ideas are so pretty. Here is a kitchen with green cabinets, a wooden, floor with a red rug, a window with a woven blind, and an oven with a plaster hood over it
(Image credit: Gaia G Interiors / Michael Hunter Photography)

Narrow kitchen ideas may be for you if you're finding yourself having to constantly shimmy in your cooking space. Even in this smaller room, there are ways to make it look wonderful and work functionally.

We've chatted with interior designers who've all decorated narrow kitchens to find out what design tricks they pulled out of the bag to make the most out of this area. Using contrasting colors, removing dividing walls and compact, renter-friendly appliances are some of their seven superb tips.

For those searching for small kitchen ideas and are specifically after ones for the narrowest spaces, we've got you covered with plenty of professional know-how.

Narrow kitchen ideas

These useful ideas from designers will help you organize your small kitchen and get it feeling fresh and fabulous.

Our pros have mentioned useful buys throughout, so where possible we've scouted them out for you.

The prices below were correct at the time of publishing this article.

1. Opt for wall-mounted cabinets and shelves

A white narrow kitchen with an open cabinet with wooden circular handles, with white dinnerware and a white countertop with books, trays, and a chopping board on it

(Image credit: Artem Kropovinsky, Arsight)

Making the most out of vertical space is not only the more practical solution, but will make your small kitchen look bigger.

“Opt for wall-mounted high ceiling type cabinets and open shelving, which will allow you to utilize the whole height of the narrow layout without leaving it constricted,” says Artem Kropovinsky, interior designer and founder of Arsight.

Artem Kropovinsky
Artem Kropovinsky

Artem Kropovinsky is an interior design expert and founder of Arsight, an award-winning interior design studio based in New York. One of his favorite recent projects is a narrow kitchen he designed in a Brooklyn townhouse, which is featured throughout this piece.

If you’re feeling like getting your DIY on, you could always build your own shelves by cutting wood to size, sanding them down, and splashing them in the best paint colors for small kitchens.

2. Remove dividing walls

A narrow kitchen with brown cabinets, a silver fridge, a brown wooden kitchen island with books in it and with pendant lights over it, and a dining area in front of it

(Image credit: Waldron Designs / Tina Witherspoon)

This narrow kitchen idea is for those who own their home and can renovate it (renters, your landlord might not be too happy if you give this a go!).

“One effective strategy I've employed in narrow kitchens is removing dividing walls to integrate the kitchen with adjacent living areas, thereby maximizing space and enhancing the overall flow of the home,” says Rachel Waldron, interior designer and founder of Waldron Designs.

A picture of Rachel Waldron, a woman with a blue bob wearing a gray jumper against a white background
Rachel Waldron

Rachel Waldron is an interior designer and founder of Waldron Designs. She blends sustainability into her commercial and residential designs, drawing from her versatile career spanning kitchen design to diverse commercial projects.

In cases where structural constraints prevent such alterations, Rachel has used creative solutions such as incorporating pass-through windows in the backsplash.

3. Make the most of the U-shape

A white kitchen with white cabinets with wooden handles, an integrated sink, a silver oven, wooden flooring, and a wooden door frame looking into the next room

(Image credit: Artem Kropovinsky, Arsight)

Most narrow kitchens will curve into a U-shape, with the end of it being the central point where the eye is drawn.

“If possible, try to use the end of the U shape however you can — if there is enough room, use it for cabinetry,” explains Gaia Guidi Filippi, principal designer and founder of Gaia G Interiors.

A picture of Gaia Guidi Filippi, a woman wearing an orange top in front of a background with trees
Gaia Guidi Filippi

Gaia Guidi Filippi is the principal designer of Dallas-based Gaia G Interiors.  She founded her interior design firm out of a love of combining her innate creativity, discerning eye and endless resourcefulness. Her creative process merges beauty and functionality, culminating in bespoke, design-forward yet welcoming spaces.  She has recently renovated a beautiful narrow kitchen, which is featured in this article.

She continues, “If it's too narrow for cabinets, even something like a couple of pretty brass hooks can offer a place for aprons and oven mitts — just make sure they're cute ones.”

We like these pretty Indian Shelf Store Boho Hooks on Amazon, which would add serious sparkle to any kitchen.

4. Play with contrasting colors

A kitchen with a blue island and splashback, a silver fridge, wooden brown cabinets, and pendant and recessed lighting on the ceiling

(Image credit: Waldron Designs / Tina Witherspoon)

Even if you can’t knock down your walls to achieve more depth, you can use colors to cleverly trick the eye into thinking there is more than there is.

Rachel explains, “Another technique I often recommend is playing with contrasting colors to create the illusion of depth and expansiveness. By painting walls a darker shade and opting for lighter-colored cabinets, we can visually expand the space and create a more inviting atmosphere.”

If you don’t want to paint your walls, you can always choose pretty tiles such as these Ivy Hill Newport subway tiles on Wayfair, which are great colorful small kitchen ideas.

5. Draw the eye upwards

A kitchen with green cabinets and white countertops with chopping blocks and food on, a floor with a red rug, a window with a woven blind, and an oven with a white plaster hood over it

(Image credit: Gaia G Interiors / Michael Hunter Photography)

As well as using wall storage ideas, you can also use other design methods to draw attention away from your lack of square footage.

Gaia explains, “You can draw the eye upwards by upgrading the hood, as we did in this picture with a beautiful plaster hood.”

She adds, “We also framed the window on the far side with a textural woven shade in a contrast color.”

If you’d like to grab a similar blind to the one in Gaia’s remodel, this World Menagerie Woven Shade from Wayfair would add a relaxed touch to any small kitchen.

6. Choose integrated and compact appliances

A kitchen with cream kitchen cabinets with one opening up to a freezer, two drawers, and a light brown wooden floor

(Image credit: Smile Kitchens)

Every inch of space counts in a narrow kitchen, so be sure to choose practical equipment which won’t take up a lot of space.

Artem says, “I recommend choosing an integrated washer/dryer in a cabinet and compact or integrated kitchen appliances and fixtures.”

For those who are renting and can’t move anything big, we recommend at least finding the best small kitchen appliances, such as the best small air fryers.

7. Declutter the space

A white kitchen with a wooden shelf with plates, bowls, and glasses, white cabinets with wooden circular handles, and a white countertop with chopping boards and towels on it

(Image credit: Artem Kropovinsky, Arsight)

You don’t need to revamp your whole narrow kitchen if you don’t want to. In fact, you can very quickly change it up by decluttering a small kitchen.

Rachel says, “For those seeking a simpler, less invasive approach, decluttering countertops and utilizing concealed storage solutions can work wonders in achieving a clean, minimalist aesthetic while maximizing available workspace.”

For example, you could make extra space in your cabinets by adding this Songmics Cabinet Organizer Shelf from Amazon, which would allow you to move more items into this.

The key is creating as much breathing room for your narrow kitchen as possible, which will brighten up your small kitchen.

Rachel finishes by saying, “My approach emphasizes opening up the space as much as possible to create a sense of openness and fluidity.”

Now you have got your narrow kitchen covered, you may also find narrow living room ideas useful, so the space looks lovely for you and your guests.

Eve Smallman
Content Editor

Hi there! I’m a content editor at Real Homes. I've been a lifestyle journalist for over five years, previously working as an editor across regional magazines. Before this, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University a degree in journalism, along with an NCTJ gold diploma. I love running, decorating my rented Victorian home, and discovering new cheeses. For Real Homes, I specialize in interior design, trends and finding the best viral buys.