5 GENIUS kitchen makeover ideas for small rooms and squeezed spaces

If your kitchen is teeny weeny, you need these design ideas – and expert planning tips

Kitchen makeover ideas
(Image credit: B&Q)

Planning a kitchen makeover on a small kitchen and looking for design tips? These expert tips are perfect for you but, to be honest, they'll serve you well even when you win the lottery/make your fortune/marry well and have more cash to splash on a bigger kitchen that you want designed perfectly. Yup, all of these kitchen design tips are universal but especially useful in a room with a small footprint. 

So, keep scrolling to find out more. Want more kitchen ideas for design inspiration? Don't miss our gallery of pretty pics... and for the practical side of kitchen design, there's our planning advice feature (serious face on). 

1. Use colour and pattern to create visual tricks

white kitchen with checkered black and white floor and large, light giving windows by magnet

(Image credit: Magnet)

Let's start with colour – or rather a non-colour: white. We all know it has the greatest light-reflecting qualities of all the colours you could possibly use, so choosing a white kitchen will result in the lightest, brightest, most spacious-looking room possible. Just bear in mind that you need to balance out that white with some texture (wood details, for example), if it's not to look soulless. 

Now let's talk pattern. See those tiles above? They are laid diagonally for a reason: and that's because the effect they create is a visual trick that makes your room look wider and longer – perfect if you are dealing with a small or narrow space. Our advice? Avoid a stark black and white chequerboard effect if you want the focus to remain up off the floor and on the kitchen. This floor above is much subtler. Perfect.

2. Keep walls free of cabinetry

Jason Traves house: Galley kitchen with dark units, white metro tiles and grey square floor tiles

(Image credit: David Woolley)

This is where practicality and design clash a little... but IF you can do without all that extra wall space, it's worth the sacrifice because it will make your room look wider and larger and lighter. Can't do without wall storage? Pick cabinets with glass fronts to create an impression of depth, and display your nicest looking kitchenware in them – we're talking glasses, plates, crockery. Think you're a neat-freak? Open shelving with an artful display of kitchen must-haves can open the room out even more. See more of this renovated Victorian terrace in our feature.

3. Position appliances conveniently but make room

Galley kitchen

(Image credit: B&Q)

We've all heard of the work triangle (no? Head over to our kitchen design piece for more on that – but the basic principle is having the main appliances within easy reach of each other). As we were saying... the work triangle is all well and good but if two of you like to cook at once on a regular basis, creating space in a small kitchen is a must. That might mean having separate worktop/prep space either side of a sink, near the fridge or cooker, or it might mean having the sink and cooker on separate sides of the room, as here. In other words, working out the ergonomics is really just as important as getting the look of the room just right.

4. Flood a small kitchen with light to make it seem bigger (and work better)

Galley kitchen

(Image credit: Magnet)

So, you might HAVE to stick up wall cabinets; you might not have a kitchen with one wall made of glazing (like in this lovely room); and you might not want a white kitchen... but you can enhance your space with good lighting. Natural daylight, and plenty of it, is the preferred route (can you add a rooflight or enlargen a window?), but if that's not possible, a real carefully planned lighting scheme is a must. That's task lighting in the right places; ambient lighting so the room always feels flooded with light; and mood lighting for when you want to turn the lights down to eat your dinner...

Find more kitchen lighting ideas: 18 bright ways to use kitchen lighting in our guide.

5. Cheat your way to a bigger kitchen with half-depth units

Galley kitchen

(Image credit: B&Q)

See the units on the right? They're half depth and doing a couple of very clever jobs: 1) they're providing useful storage – useful because it's so easy to find everything in a half depth cupboard; 2) they're making the kitchen look fully furnished but are taking up half the room of normal cabinets, so increasing the floor space dramatically; 3) they're providing a seamless transition to a breakfast bar – a must-have in a small kitchen with no room for a dining table. Told you they were genius.

More kitchen ideas: