As a hub of activity in the home, the kitchen should feel open and inviting. In smaller kitchens where space is at a premium, however, establishing an airy atmosphere can be a challenge. Here are our tips for making a cramped kitchen feel more roomy.
1. Clean off the counters. Having your coffee maker, pressure cooker, cutting board, toaster oven, mixer, bread loaves and fruit bowl on the counters can be convenient, but they add clutter in a small kitchen. Keep a few essential items out and store the rest. To create more functional space: Add hooks on the ends of cabinets and above the range to hang cutting boards and cooking utensils; install a paper towel holder and mug hooks under the cabinet; use a tilt-down drawer in front of the sink for sponges and brushes; and place decorative storage bins above the upper cabinets or install uppers that reach to the ceiling.
2. Turn on the light. Opt for minimal window treatments to generate maximal light in the room—and add recessed lights or a skylight if you’re open to more involved projects. To turn up the brightness even more, install lights below and inside cabinets. With light bathed across your kitchen, focus will be drawn to all areas instead of a couple of bright spots.
3. Go for gloss. Reflective appliances, countertops and faucet finishes amplify the light of the room and add depth. The same can be said for reflective backsplash tiles, like glass or metal. Note that glossy surfaces need to be cleaned frequently, but it’s worth a little extra work. Here’s how to keep your faucet sparkling.
4. Think minimal. Streamline and simplify your kitchen décor. Use a bud vase in place of a full floral arrangement, take down knicknacks, keep the face of the fridge uncluttered and look for a single-hole pull-down faucet instead of a two-handle with a sidespray.
5. Use light colors throughout. Incorporating white in cabinetry, countertops, backsplashes and walls is not only striking, but it also gives an impression of space without boundaries. A palette of lighter, low-contrast colors—such as pale yellows, grays and greens—will have a similar feel of openness. Strategically placing pops of contrast can help guide the eye to different areas of the space while infusing the room with your own personality.
6. Stretch the imagination. Patterns that go side to side, across the flow of the kitchen, will stretch it out as people’s eyes move back and forth to take in the space. Rugs and other floor coverings with wide patterns oriented this way will do the trick, too. Kitchens that have high ceilings will seem higher with vertical patterns on the walls.
7. Think inside the wall. Gain precious extra inches by opening the kitchen side of a section of wall (between the studs) and installing a recessed bank of shelving. Trim and paint it to tie with the rest of the room.
8. Focus the eyes high. Draw people’s attention up to make the room appear taller. You can accomplish this by installing cabinets to the ceiling, placing objects in the space above the cabinets or adding a space-saving element like a magnetic knife strip on the wall (bonus: goodbye, countertop knife block).
9. Take out a wall. Removing a wall can help your kitchen share space with the adjoining room. Instant openness! If you’re not able to remove the whole thing, you can still open up sight lines and create the appearance of more space by going with a half-wall, counter or pass-through.
What’s next? If a larger-looking bathroom is on your wish list, check out these links for inspiration.