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82 Small Kitchen Ideas to Steal So You Never Feel Claustrophobic Again

Ceiling-high cabinets and mirrored backsplashes can work wonders.

By Hadley Mendelsohn, Kelly Allen and Kate McGregor
preview for 4 Need-to-Know Tips for Decorating a Small Space

A spacious kitchen with sky-high ceilings and ample natural light is the absolute dream. However, most of us have to make do with awkward layouts and less-than-ideal storage space. But a small kitchen doesn't have to be so bad. In fact, with the right small-space solutions and functional design ideas, it won't matter what square footage you're working with. Ahead, we've rounded up more than 80 clever and chic small kitchen ideas to pull inspiration from so that you never feel like a claustrophobic cook again. We promise these tricks will help you make the most of your counter space and cabinetry—and they might even make you want to spend even more time in your kitchen.

🏡You love finding new design tricks. So do we. Let us share the best of them.


Streamline the Space

small kitchen ideas
Liz Lange

Opting for an all-white kitchen can instantly make a space feel bigger thanks to the shade's light-reflecting nature. Smooth, glossy cabinet fronts (no hardware here) and a cooktop set in matching countertops maximizes the gleaming effect.


Make Your Own Island

small kitchen ideas
Corinne Mathern Studio

In this small kitchen by designer Corinne Mathern Studio, a counter-height work table doubles as an island and eating space. You can easily push a piece like this against the wall or move it out of the room anytime it starts to feel cramped.


Paint Each Portion

small kitchen ideas
Trevor Parker

Here's a playful way to designate a kitchen's different zones and make it appear bigger: Use three blue shades to create depth, as designer Garrow Kedigian did here. Stretching the lightest one up to the ceiling emphasizes its height, making this space feel airy.

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Lighten Up

small kitchen ideas
Tim Williams

To ground a small kitchen without making it feel cave-like, use a dark color on only the bottom half, and swap for a lighter shade on top. Natural wood connects this space to the forest outside.


Paint the Floor

small kitchen ideas
Read McKendree

To open up this kitchen, designer Kevin Isbell painted an oversize glossy checkered print on the floor. The light, bright colors coordinate perfectly with the cafe curtain fabric.


Forego Hardware

small kitchen ideas
Annie Schlechter

To maintain a visually sleek appearance, exchange exposed hardware in favor of inset grooves or cutout handles.

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Install a Set of Doors

small kitchen ideas
Michael Persico

Take a note from designer Matthew Ferrarini, and install pocket doors to hide your kitchen's hardest working wall when you're not cooking or cleaning up. We love this idea for open floor plans and studio apartments.


Cover the Clutter

small kitchen ideas
Leanne Ford Interiors

Have a farmhouse sink or exposed plumbing that has seen better days? Skirt the issue. That is, install a sink skirt hide the mess, the way they did in old English country kitchens.


Utilize Your Island

small kitchen ideas
Hecker Guthrie

The hangout side of an island can absolutely work harder. Design it with cabinets instead of a solid slab of wood, and it's ideal for storing not-so-frequently-used items.

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Choose a Happy Color

small kitchen ideas
Amy Neunsinger

To make a narrow galley kitchen feel more intentional (and less like a dark alcove), install statement pendant lights. This ombré pair brightens it from end to end and draws eyes up.


Create an Appliance Garage

kitchen with appliance cubby for a coffee machine
Lauren Miller

Don't have much counter space? Consider adding an appliance garage within your cabinetry as designer Natalie Chong did in her former Toronto townhouse. The cubby held her Nespresso machine. Underneath, a push-to-open wood panel hid a Vitamix.


Make It Double as a Mudroom

kitchen cabinetry in teal and blue
Jeff Herr

For a Georgia kitchen connected to a back door, designer Laura Jenkins turned some cabinets near the built-in refrigerator into a mudroom closet. The seamless construction also hides a coffee station and pantry, making the room feel larger.

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Maintain a Neutral Palette

kitchen neutral colors
Seth Smoot

With a neutral-leaning color palette, your kitchen can feel more open and serene. Just take note of this tranquil kitchen by Lauren Nelson Design, which incorporates handmade tile, marble countertops, and cabinetry in Benjamin Moore's Caldwell Green that subtly reference the outdoors.


Build In Kitchen Necessities

kitchen with cutting board near the oven
Adam Kane Macchia

In this kitchen designed by Sarah Robertson, a slide-in cutting board and drying rack flank the range—making cooking a total breeze. Not to mention cleanup: You never have to worry about fitting them into other drawers or cabinets.


Add a Nook for Bench Seating

galley kitchen with bench seating
Chris Mottalini

Consider maximizing your dining arrangement with a nook for a built-in bench as designer Nannette Brown did for this moody galley kitchen in a New York apartment.

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Opt for a Countersplash

countersplash in a kitchen

Countersplashes—when the same slab style is used for the countertop and backsplash—make everything look and function smoother. Pro designers are embracing the style, including designer Melanie Millner who chose Cielo quartzite for this European-inspired estate in Georgia. Enhance the spacious, cohesive feel with a little display shelf in the same material.


Clear the Counters

kitchen with white cabinets and some green cabinets on the island
Kirsten Francis

If hanging a pot rack from the ceiling isn't ideal for you, opt for a short rail secured to a small open shelf. In this kitchen by designer Augusta Hoffman, a small rod displays a few go-to tools and cookware for easy access while cooking.


Hide Your Charging Station

chargins station in a drawer
Tim Lenz

If you tend to charge your phone or iPad in your kitchen, move that clutter into a drawer with docking outlets like this sleek setup by designer Sarah Robertson. That way, you'll have more counter space to cook and flip through recipe books.

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Use Faux Brick

kitchen with faux brick backsplash
Haris Kenjar

Amplify the character in your small kitchen with the look of exposed brick for less. In this San Francisco kitchen, designer Lynn Kloythanomsup chose a classic red brick, but since it was just for looks, went faux. “It’s like a thin brick tile,” she explains.


Work With Smaller Appliances

kitchen counter
Ashlee Kindred

Save counter space with a built-in electric cooktop. A slim version—like this one with two burners in a working pantry by Rob Klein and Amy Kreutz of Conceptual Kitchens & Millwork—will give you more room to unload groceries and prepare meals.

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shelf, product, shelving, room, furniture, refrigerator, building, pantry, cabinetry,

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