How To Live With A Small Kitchen – Living with a small kitchen is always frustrating, whether you’re a strict cook or someone who uses the oven as an overstuffed wardrobe. Space gymnastics, like chopping vegetables on a postage stamp-sized counter or doing a tummy tuck to navigate the path between the fridge and the kitchen island, can quickly get old. However, the lack of a square footage should not limit your kitchen’s design potential in any way. In fact, you might be surprised at the countless ways that even the most basic cooking spaces look and feel great.
“No matter the size of the kitchen, always extend cabinets all the way to the ceiling,” advises Lauren Buxbaum Gordon, partner at Nate Berkus Associates. “It will make your ceiling feel higher and your kitchen feel larger.” He recently incorporated this spatial trick into a Manhattan apartment with a small kitchen. If very tall cabinets aren’t possible (we hear you’re a tenant), Buxbaum advises Gordon to think small: “Invest in pieces that visually complement and feel impressive. Whether it’s a brass band for sanding or a tabletop or old hardware, use these little details to leave your personal mark.
How To Live With A Small Kitchen
Replacing the dull hue in your cabinets with a light and bright one can go a long way in addition to many other tips. That’s why we’ve compiled 81 small kitchens from our archives to show you exactly how they’re made. Read on to see beautiful homes that make the most of their small layout with bold cabinets, double accents, stylish lighting solutions and more.
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This Victorian farmhouse in Oxfordshire, England, by Susie de Rohan Willner, CEO of Toast, may have small digs, but it sings with country charm. Bright green lower cabinets help draw attention to the room, while open shelves allow for clever storage and display of elegant trinkets.
This Manhattan apartment client doesn’t use her galley-style kitchenette very often, but that hasn’t stopped designer Lorraine Buxbaum Gordon from putting on a show. Signature move? Extend the cabinet cover up to the ceiling of the growing season. Light countertops and bright white paint let the sun in, but shiny gold hardware and accents really make this small kitchen a winner.
When working with a 16th-century terrace house, as French designer Eric Allart did, you should embrace the idiosyncrasies of the period. This kitchen is finished with terracotta tiles. Instead of removing them, Allart held them in place and created an interesting kitchen in unexpected colors to complement them. Here, an inked slab of tile refracts the sunlight, and the pepto-pink hue on the walls and ceiling tries to draw the eye upward.
Designed by New York firm Husband Wife, this apartment uses the Buxbaum Gordon line of kitchen cabinets. But instead of using the usual stark white, the designers covered the walls in swirling marble and lined the cabinets in the brightest glossy cream. It is the perfect combination of classic and modern.
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A small space hasn’t stopped Nate Berkus from adding a small table and chairs (an old architect’s desk and school chairs) to his old Chicago kitchen. Metal cabinets were unique to the 1929 apartment and placed in just the right amount of industrial-chic storage.
You’d never believe it, but this cottage in Provincetown, Massachusetts began life as a humble fisherman’s cottage. Designer David Cafiero brought the nautical theme throughout the house, including this small galley kitchen modeled after a ship’s galley.
This Brooklyn apartment is blessed with extra-high ceilings and lots of natural light. Designer Danielle Fennoy of Revamp Interior Design enhanced the spaciousness of the combined kitchen-dining area with flashes of vibrant jewel-toned color, including this emerald green backsplash (replacing the original white subway tile installed by the developer) and retro chic. Knoll dining room chairs upholstered in red, ultra leather “nightclub ready”.
Like most busy New Yorkers, the occupant of this Manhattan apartment often doesn’t have time to cook, but that doesn’t mean the kitchen is secondary to the rest of the house. Instead, Sarah Mendel and Risa Emmen of Cochineal Design transformed the space into their own functional showcases, with bold marble and cabinetry polished in Farrow & Ball’s sultry Preference Red. Bonus: It’s the perfect corner to showcase a client’s pottery collection.
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Sometimes it’s best to embrace chaos. And we can’t think of a better example than this exuberant kitchen corner by William Callum, senior designer of Jane Design Studio, and his partner, Jeffery Rhodes. A pink Victorian pedestal houses antique cutlery, while a statue of a goat (previously on display at Saks Vyfdelaan) boldly guards the refrigerator (disguised with bizarre artwork) from late-night snack thieves. In this field, anything really happens as long as you make it happen.
Just because you have a miniature cooking space doesn’t mean you have to give up places to cook and eat. The trick is to think small, as with this tiny kitchen island in an apartment designed by Nicholas Obeid. With vintage chairs below and a pair of Allied Maker pendants suspended above, this vignette has all the influence of its sprawling suburban cousins.
We love how this kitchen, located in a family-friendly Brooklyn condo designed by the co-founders of Civilian, has storage filled with whimsical details. A custom island with a striking piece of marble serves as storage for cookbooks and dinnerware, while the cherry red headboard (again custom) adds a playful postmodern pop.
We’ve been seeing lacquer cabinets everywhere lately, and this elegant example in the Paris pad designed by Hugo Toro proves that veneer can add extra dimension to even the smallest spaces. In addition to Redfield & Dattner’s glossy finish in burnt sienna, Toro used gorgeous brass finishes (just look at that ceiling!) and dark marble on the walls, countertops and ceiling.
Small Kitchen Design Ideas
Relying on a light palette is one of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to creating the illusion of space, and for good reason. Here in Washington, D.C., where Dan Sallick and Elizabeth Miller live, spring marble, glossy white cabinets and warm wood details work together to encourage airier kitchen nooks. An ink-coloured David Weeks chandelier adds a graphic touch.
Of course, green and black kitchens have become popular in recent years, but we love this cheerful, light magenta version in Lisa Corti’s Milan apartment. The shade works to highlight the space, which the textile designer has further personalized with open shelves, trinkets (we love a framed photo of a cat), and a sky blue table.
Who says thinking outside the box is a bad thing? That’s certainly not the case with this sculptural kitchen in a Los Angeles bungalow designed by LAUN. The green lacquered volume is not only an elegant way to hide the refrigerator, but also a useful device for disrupting the home’s mostly open floor plan. Meanwhile, the glossy brass wrapping around the sinks and cabinets enhances the space, not to mention a glamorous Midas touch to the plan.
We can’t all say we live in a restored 1970s geodesic dome like hatter Nick Fouquet, but there are spatial lessons to be learned from the kitchen: instead of fighting the quirky architecture, Fouquet embraced it by creating a round cooking space and the island reflects the geometry of the building. He even installed shelves on triangular structural elements.
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Although designer and color entrepreneur Nicole Gibbons has a small apartment in New York, she made her kitchen light and airy by painting the walls in this elegant duck egg. A small breakfast nook with a small gallery wall, a small Amazon table, and Marcel Breuer-style chairs make the most of the space and budget.
This remote mountain retreat kitchen may be small, but its clever spatial solutions (we love the hanging shelves above the sink) and strong palette of locally sourced stone and wood make this cozy cooking space punch above its weight.
A pint-sized room is a great excuse to be bold (think the humble bathroom, for example), and the kitchen is no exception. This truly unique St. Petersburg apartment kitchen, designer Tim Veresnovski covered the walls, cabinets, and countertop with a black-and-white striped eucalyptus veneer.
The glossy, contrasting copper finish on the cabinets in this Milanese kitchen creates the illusion of more space and gives the entire open space a Midas touch.
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ELLE DECOR assistant digital editor Anna Fiksen focuses on sharing the best of the design world through in-depth reporting and online stories. Prior to joining the staff, she held positions at Architectural Digest, Metropolis, and Architectural Record.
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Hi, I am Erick Norman. A blogger specialist in Kitchen Design.