Whoever said “good things come in small packages” probably wasn’t thinking about kitchens. If yours is 150 sq. ft. or less, it’s “officially” small – and you’re probably looking for ways to make it feel bigger and work better.
Fooling the Eye
When redoing a small kitchen, the primary visual goal is to make the room look bigger. To do this, use light finishes on all the surfaces, and keep the design and its details, such as the cabinet doors, simple. Use open shelves or glass doors with lighted interiors. To create a unified look, limit the number of textures and colours – white and one accent colour are plenty. Subtle diagonal patterns make a room look bigger, and a mirrored backsplash can add the illusion of depth. Good lighting is also essential. You can open up walls, add skylights or install bigger windows: clerestory windows placed high on the wall or large windows that run down to the counters work well.
The next most important goal usually is expanding storage space. Although it may be tempting, avoid putting cabinets on every wall; fewer cabinets make a room look bigger and give you more open space. For example, if you run cabinets along only one wall (a “Pullman kitchen”), you can extend the countertops into the corner and gain 24 in. of usable counter space. Other storage ideas include extending cabinets all the way to the ceiling (use 42-in.-tall upper cabinets instead of 30-in. units) or using one tall pantry cabinet, or stacking two or three stock cabinets to create floor-to-ceiling storage. Stash a stepladder nearby to help you reach the upper shelves. ln any case, avoid the common mistake of suspending cabinets above a peninsula, where they block both light and conversation. Store the items you use most at waist level, where they’ll be easiest to access. To control clutter in the back of your shelves, add full-extension rollout slides – they’re worth the extra cost. While remodelling, consider creating shallow recessed shelves in between the wall studs for storing small items, such as herbs, spices and canned goods. You can even build a recessed pantry between the studs and finish it to match your cabinetry Cabinet accessories, such as the rollout slides mentioned earlier, are great tools to help a small kitchen work smarter. Also consider a false sink front that stores sponges and cleaning items, or a multi-bin receptacle that hides trash and recycling in a base cabinet. Use an 18-in.-wide drawer base that holds up to four bins. Other cabinet accessories include drawers in toe kicks that hide lids and trays, shelving inside doors for storing spices and towels, vertical dividers that organise trays and cookie sheets, an under-cabinet rack for stemware, and a multi-level drawer divider for utensils.
If you’d like to add an eating area to a small kitchen when designing it but don’t know where to find the room, bear in mind that the least efficient spot for an eating area is the middle of the kitchen; there probably won’t be enough room to walk around it. A small banquette or a table-height counter along a wall is a better choice. Other good options for small kitchens include pullout tables and pole tables. Another space-saving idea is to double the function of the eating area. For example, a counter-height snack bar can also be used as a kitchen work surface. Choose a durable and appropriate material for these areas- perhaps butcher block, laminate or solid surfacing.
Now is the time to consider whether your appliances could be rearranged for greater efficiency when planning your new kitchen. To do this, examine the way you use the appliances in your main work areas. Are the positions of the appliances causing you to waste time or effort as you cook or prepare food? You can save cabinet space by ducting the range hood through a side wall, if possible, rather than up through a cabinet. A simple hood design, such as a stainless-steel model, usually looks best in a small space. ln a small kitchen, the location of the microwave can also pose a dilemma. If you put it over the range, you may have to reach a hot surface to use it. Instead, consider putting it next to the refrigerator, at eye level in a 12-in. – high wall cabinet. lf you (or your children) can’t reach it there, put it just below the counter. If you’re replacing any appliances, consider stretching your space by buying smaller units. A 27-in. oven, cook- top or range will leave you with 3 in. more countertop than a standard 30-in. unit – and the oven door will also require less room when open. You might also consider a 24-in. oven or an 18-in. under – sink dishwasher.