Small kitchen ideas: 16 ways to make the most of your space

On the hunt for small kitchen ideas? Get inspired by these tiny, but beautiful and truly functional spaces...

small kitchen ideas: in an awkward space with wood finish and white cabinets
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(Image credit: B&Q)

If you're looking for small kitchen ideas to help bring one of the most important rooms in the house to life, we are here to help. We love a good browse through Instagram and Pinterest, – slowing our scroll for light-filled, spacious, open-plan cooking spaces and the like – so it's only natural that we want to help you turn your tiny kitchen dream (however small it may be), into a reality. It's Real Homes to the rescue and we have some smart and savvy ideas for small kitchens that will work wonders on your home.

Whether you're looking for practical small space storage solutions, want to perfect a small fitted kitchen's layout, or just need inspiration on the best colors to paint your small kitchen, we've listed our favorite ideas that will make the most of all small kitchens below. 

For even more kitchen ideas to get you inspired, you can visit our ultimate guide.

1. Be savvy with storage in a small kitchen 

Small Ikea kitchen

(Image credit: Ikea)

As with all small rooms, good storage that works hard is key, the last thing you want in a teeny kitchen is clutter. Opt for a mix of open and closed storage – open shelving and glass cabinets double up as decoration and storage if you fill them with jars, crockery and your best kitchenware. Use the closed cabinets for the less aesthetically pleasing stuff and invest in under shelf baskets and cabinet and drawer organizers to make even more of your space. 

For more small kitchen storage ideas head over to our feature. 

2. Use bold colors to enhance a small kitchen 

Kitchen painted in dark green and white to make the small space feel bigger

(Image credit: Future/Brett Charles)

Conventional wisdom says that in small spaces you should keep everything white and bright and light, but sometimes contrasting colors can have a similar space-enhancing effect. So if you are feeling bold, choose a vivid color for your kitchen cabinets. You don't have to fork out a lot to achieve this look either, you can try painting your kitchen cabinets; if it doesn't go well, just paint over them!

The Home Depot has kitchen cabinet paint you can buy online in a wide range of colors. 

3. Create more surface space in a small kitchen 

Small kitchen with an island

(Image credit: Colin Poole)

Think you didn't have room for a island in your small kitchen? Think again. Sure you might not be able to add a massive island, but if you love that flexible, freestanding look that an island brings to a space, you can always create a similar effect with a butcher's block. They are much more compact than an island but can still give you extra surface space and extra storage. 

Trying picking up a lovely reclaimed or secondhand one on eBay. Our advice? Keep it a light color – that way the room won't feel crowded.

4. Use statement lighting to create a focal point

L-shape white kitchen with oak worktops, black pendant light and rugs

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

There are so many ideas for small kitchens that don't require an entire revamp. Create a focal point with clever kitchen lighting as pendant lighting can be an effective way of detracting from a kitchen's diminutive size while adding a stylish and sophisticated feel to a space. This task lighting is not only practical for when you're chopping veggies and the likes, but also perfect to make a statement. We love this dark grey Ikea pendant light  which will stand out a treat in a small kitchen space. 

Small open plan kitchen in a loft conversion

(Image credit: Plain English )

If you don't have the room to hang a large pendant light or if it's not the most practical option, think about using wall lights to create some interest instead. Choose lights in a color to contrast with your walls so they stand out. Steal this small kitchen idea and create a cohesive look by matching them to your cabinets or go bold and use your kitchen lighting to add a splash of color. 

5. Open shelving is a great idea for a small kitchen

Wooden shelves holding vintage ornaments, house plants and chopping boards with herringbone tiling and marble surfaces

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

While floor-to-ceiling kitchen cabinets are a great option for maximizing storage, in excess they can make small kitchens feel boxy. Breaking up a space with open shelving is a great solution and can make an eye-catching design feature if styled with pretty crockery and glassware. Find more sneaky small kitchen storage ideas.

6. Choose compact appliances to save on space

When it comes to choosing appliances for a small or even tiny kitchen, opting for compact versions is a great solution to tight spaces. Not only will you save on space but it will probably better suit your needs and decrease your energy use too. 

Brands like Bosch, Whirpool, and GE all have appliances specifically designed for small spaces.

7. Choose bright and modern window treatments 

a small yet contemporary kitchen with marble topped white cabinets and a bright red blind

Find these dramatic red blinds at English Blinds

(Image credit: English Blinds)

What a perfect way to add some energy into a small kitchen space. You won't be using up any countertop space with your window treatment so you can go to town on choosing a gorgeously bright color when shopping around. This bright red blind adds a real pop of color, livening up an otherwise monochrome space.

Check out these colorful kitchens ideas for more inspiration. 

8. Plan your small kitchen layout with natural light in mind

small kitchen with a white colour scheme, large window overlooking a garden


(Image credit: House of Fraser)

Prioritizing natural light is a must when you're working with any type of small space as it can well and truly maximize and enhance the feel of a room. Boxy kitchen cabinets positioned around the window are sure to restrict light within the space, so opting for open shelving is an option worth considering. Inserting a sink below a window is a go-to option, with a lovely view taking the pain out of cleaning up (if only slightly). 

9. Go custom in an awkwardly shaped kitchen

small kitchen design


(Image credit: Michael J. Lee, Design by Venegas and Co., Platemark )

Finding the perfect small kitchen layout can be tricky, especially if the room is an unusual shape. However, custom cabinetry, like the kind seen in this above space by Boston-area firms Venegas & Co. and Platemark Design can help you make the most of the room you do have. While custom cabinets are more expensive than stock, the fact that you're working in such a small space can help keep costs down (and the expense may prove worth it if space if truly maximized). 

10. Draw attention to features you love  

small shaker style kitchen with arger and white color scheme


(Image credit: deVOL)

This small, but perfectly formed, Shaker-style kitchen is a great example of how having a small kitchen doesn't have to mean compromising on the features you love. Designed to house a full size Esse Range Cooker, the space lost is made up with built in appliances and floor to ceiling cabinets for a high quality, considered small kitchen space.

11. Save space with a stylish breakfast bar

small black scheme kitchen in island with breakfast bar


(Image credit: deVOL)

Don't have space for a kitchen table and chairs? Consider opting for an integrated breakfast bar and stools, instead of a freestanding dining room setup. Versatile spaces, they're equally suited for food preparation as they are for entertaining guests. 

Oh and if you are after more inspiration, check out these breakfast bar and island seating ideas

12. Add interest to a small kitchen with floor tiles

Patterned grey tiles in a small shaker style kitchen

(Image credit: Tile Giant)

Adding bold patterns and colors to a small kitchen can be tricky and overwhelm the space. So instead of spending ages trying to choose a wallpaper that works or a paint color that isn't too much, look to the floor for adding pattern and color instead. 

We love these Laura Ashley tiles from The Tile Shop, but if you after more ideas check out these stunning patterned floor tile designs.

13. Or... add interest to a smaller kitchen with a patterned backsplash

small kitchen design ideas

(Image credit: Wayfair)

If you think tiling the whole floor might be too much, try tiling your backsplash instead. The element of drama adds depth to even the smallest of kitchen counters, choose your pattern wisely!

We love the tile from Wayfair in the photo above.

14. Or... install a mirrored backsplash to double your space

Bespoke Spenlow Kitchen- Wolf Range Cooker - Hampstead London - Humphrey Munson

(Image credit: Humphrey Munson)

A mirrored backsplash is a fine idea for a small kitchen as the reflection will instantly give the illusion of a brighter and more spacious room. Use antiqued glass for an easy-maintenance option in a period-style kitchen, or go for clear mirrored panels in a contemporary kitchen.

15. Add depth with dark cabinets

Ludivine Broch:

(Image credit: Darren Chung © Future)

Think darker colors can't work in a small kitchen? Think again. 

While there is definitely truth to the fact that light colors are perfect if you want to create a light, airy space, if you want that dark, cozy, cocoon-like vibe that's very on trend, you can still achieve it in a small space .

If you want to test out the look without spending tons of money, you could paint the cabinets yourself. Head over to our guide on how to paint kitchen cabinets for an easy step-by-step guide, or check out kitchen cabinet paint at Lowe's.

16. Get smart about storage

small kitchen design

(Image credit: Newton Kitchens / Greg Premru)

Be smart with what storage space you do have. In the photo above, for example, kitchen designer Newton Kitchens created a pull out system to allow the homeowner to easily access corner storage space. 

More clever small-space solutions