32 Of The Best Small Kitchen Ideas (2023 Inspiration)
homedude is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, We may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more
Kitchens are undoubtedly one of the hardest-working spaces in the home, and for good reason. We do a whole lot more than just cook and eat in them. Kitchens often become the place we do our work, have family game nights, and gather with friends.
When your kitchen is on the smaller side, it can certainly be a struggle to maximize its potential. But, just because your kitchen lacks space doesn’t mean it has to lack style. It’s all about making thoughtful decisions when it comes to how the space looks and functions.
But, don’t worry; we know you’re busy. That’s why we’ve gone ahead and gathered some of the most stunning and smart small kitchen ideas for you. Now you can get the inspiration you need to make your kitchen both stylish and efficient. The only thing left to do is decide what’s for dinner.
1. Use a Drop-Leaf Table
Small kitchens can offer a particular challenge when it comes to setting up a place to enjoy your meals. Sure, you can pull up some stools to the counter peninsula or small island, but it doesn’t feel the same as sitting around the dinner table with friends and family.
But, when your kitchen’s small, cramming a large table into the mix makes things stuffy and cluttered. Instead, try a drop-leaf table like this charmer from Intercon Furniture. It doesn’t take up a lot of space day-to-day, and you just pop up the leaves for mealtimes.
2. Go Bright & White
Colors and design can work wonders in a space, transforming it in various ways, including making a small space seem larger. One option for expanding an area is to go all white, like this crisp and clean kitchen from Home Bunch.
White countertops, white cabinets, and a white backsplash blend well with the light-colored floor and stainless steel appliances, giving this whole kitchen a bright and airy look that makes it feel bigger than it is. The white also helps reflect light around the room, making things feel even more open and light.
3. Use Shelves in Place of Upper Cabinets
There’s no denying that storage is a necessity when it comes to a busy, hardworking kitchen. You need to keep pots, pans, plates, dishes, cups, and all sorts of other items close at hand. But, when you’re working with a small kitchen, too many cabinets can start to make things feel a bit heavy.
So, opt for keeping your lower cabinets for things like serving ware, small appliances, and cookware, but then remove your top cabinets altogether. In this kitchen from Room for Tuesday, upper cabinets make way for open shelves, perfect for keeping plates, bowls, and other kitchen essentials.
4. Utilize Banquet Seating
Another way to squeeze ample seating into a small kitchen is using a banquet or built-in bench seating. This arrangement saves space since the back of the seat can be right up against a wall or other surface. You can do this in various ways, and people often work this setup into a corner, especially near a window.
But that’s not the only place to put a banquet. You can also incorporate one into your kitchen island, like this one from Pinterest. As a bonus, many banquets can open up, providing quite a bit of storage space — always a good idea in a small kitchen.
5. Ditch Cabinet Hardware
One trick for making a small kitchen feel a little less cluttered is to remove the hardware from the cabinets and drawers (or don’t install knobs or pulls in the first place). Instead, keep the faces of your cabinetry smooth for a sleek, clean look, like this kitchen from the Contemporist.
Plus, when your lower cabinets don’t have knobs and other hardware, it’s fewer things for you to run into or snag your clothes on. When you’re maneuvering around a small space, every inch counts. So ditch the hardware and give yourself some more wiggle room.
6. Bring in Some Plants
Some beautiful greenery carefully appointed throughout a room makes any space feel happier and brighter. When you’re designing a room, no matter what the size, it’s critical to not only consider how the space functions and looks but how it makes people feel.
For example, a kitchen that’s dank, lifeless, and lacking any personal touches can make someone feel down in the dumps, even if it’s a big space. But, when you take the time to add thoughtful touches as CompleteHome does with this collection of delightful plants, it can make you feel like you’re in a castle.
7. Let in Lots of Light
Even if you have a vast room, it can feel incredibly claustrophobic if it’s dark. Natural light not only has a fantastic ability to make us feel happier, but it can transform a room, making a space feel bigger.
This modern kitchen from Margaret McClarty Design mixes various artificial lighting with an expanse of natural light coming in through the large window. The window stays bare to maximize the amount of light. Plus, the high-gloss surfaces and white cabinetry take the light and bounce it around the room, creating the illusion of a bigger space.
8. Don’t Overdo Your Accents
If you love designing and creating new spaces, it can be hard to edit yourself when making the most of your room. In a small kitchen, try to remember the concept of less is more when it comes to your accents.
Trying to put too many different things into a small space can make it feel too busy, creating more visual clutter instead of a cohesive design plan. So, choose two to three accents tops, and spread them throughout the kitchen, like Waterworks’s Instagram does here with lush green tones, metallic golds, and natural finishes.
9. Get Super Organized
This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t seem to think it matters: no storage means more clutter means less space. In a small kitchen, this equals a disaster. Any kitchen should be well-organized to work at optimal efficiency, but in a small kitchen, storage is vital.
The more organized you can be inside of cabinets and your pantry, like this fantastic set up from The Container Store, the more uncluttered the rest of your kitchen will be; you know, the parts that everyone can see. So, tidy up everything, inside and out.
Related: 21 Of The Best Kitchen Pantry Ideas
10. Hide a Counter or Table
When you need to use every inch of livable space, taking it up permanently with furniture can be troublesome. For a small kitchen, a large table takes up valuable real estate, and in some living arrangements, it can be hard to fit any table at all.
But, what if you could hide your entire table and only pull it out when you need it? Fine Home Building shows it’s possible with this clever hideaway table tucked away under the island. You can pull it out for mealtimes or if you need extra prep space, then make it vanish.
11. Remove the Doors from Cabinets
Okay, so you’re not too sure about the idea of removing your upper cabinets to install open shelving. We hear you; it’s not for everyone, especially if you have a few more things than you could comfortably display on floating shelves. So, what do you do?
You keep the cabinets, but lose the doors, like Sincerely, Sara D. This way, you still have all the storage your cabinets offer, without the solid front, giving things a more open feel. Another option is to replace the solid front of your cabinet doors with a glass inset.
12. Utilize Under-Cabinet Lighting
Task lighting can really make an impact on your space, plus it adds to your kitchen’s overall functionality. It helps brighten up the whole expanse between your counter and under the cabinets, a place that can tend to get a little dark and dreary.
If you have reflective surfaces on your counters and backsplash, using under-cabinet lighting, like these from Globe Electric, can make an even more significant change in the space. Plus, you’re less likely to cut your fingers the next time you’re chopping and dicing for your next gourmet meal since you can see what you’re doing.
13. Bring in Unified Artwork
Believe it or not, a lot of people don’t think about hanging artwork in their kitchen, but it can really allow you to put your stamp on the room. But, that doesn’t mean you can start throwing every kitschy piece of kitchen art you find up on your walls.
Doing this haphazardly can lead to a cluttered look that closes in your kitchen. Instead, choose one large statement piece or opt for a collection of smaller pieces that go together, like this set of old recipe cards and vintage rolling pin featured on The Louvre Framing Gallery.
14. Use a Portable Island
A kitchen island can work wonders, adding valuable extra prep space, storage, and other possibilities to a kitchen. But, if your kitchen is small, you might not think you have the room for an island. Well, think again; islands come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, including small portable styles that are ideally suited for smaller spaces.
This small unit from Review Homkit provides additional storage and a workspace, and since it’s on wheels, you can easily slide it out of the way. It can even double as a bar; you can roll it into the living room for your next gathering.
15. Add an Accent Wall
Just because you have a small kitchen doesn’t mean you have to shy away from color completely. In fact, going all white is just one of many ways to create the illusion of a bigger space. Alternatively, you can concentrate your design power on one spot, making a statement accent wall like Lovely Indeed does with this stunning tropical-themed wallpaper.
A feature wall draws the eye to it, making your eye travel across the space and making the room feel larger. You can create an accent wall in many ways, like wallpaper, a bold paint color, or adding texture to a wall.
16. Consider Smaller Appliances
Unless you’re gunning to be the next Top Chef, consider if you genuinely need oversized, gourmet appliances in your kitchen. Let’s face it, how many times are you going to use that double oven? And, do you really keep enough food in the house at one time to fill a commercial refrigerator?
While smaller appliances might not work for everyone, like big families, choosing a few could make a big difference in a small kitchen. For example, this 24” Bosch refrigerator, shown here from Appliance Video, might be all you need, and it still gives you the sleek style of stainless steel.
17. Hang Your Pots and Pans
Keep your countertops clear and your cabinets uncluttered by hanging some of your largest cookware from the ceiling on a pot rack, like this one from Home Depot. The grid design, coupled with S-hooks, allows you to hang various items, including pans, colanders, and more. Prefer to go with a more bespoke design?
You can make a DIY pot rack out of a bunch of unique items, including ladders, old window frames, curtain rods, and industrial pipes. For example, if you can’t suspend a pot rack from the ceiling, mount a curtain rod on the wall to hang your most-used cookware.
18. Opt for High-Gloss Finishes
If you can’t make more space, then you need to create the illusion of it instead. This means you can turn your small kitchen into one that looks larger. You can do this with thoughtful design choices like paint color, furniture placement, and finishes. When choosing the finishes for cabinets, countertops, backsplash, flooring, etc., go with high-gloss.
It creates almost a mirror-like effect, reflecting light and making the kitchen feel bigger. This kitchen from 3B Builder uses a bright red high-gloss finish on the cabinets, making a big statement while keeping things from getting too overpowering.
19. Maximize Vertical Space
Don’t let any space go forgotten in your small kitchen, which means don’t forget about your vertical space. But we get it if you don’t feel like hanging a bunch of shelves on your wall. No problem.
These ladder-style shelves from The Container Store are perfect for storing multiple items like spices, cookbooks, and more, while keeping things light thanks to the open backs. They’re also a great idea if your kitchen is practically in the same room as your living space since they have a more living-room furniture feel to them. Which brings us to our next tip.
20. Make It Flow
Nowadays, open floor concepts are prevalent, but if you’re not careful with how you plan out the design, things can start to feel choppy. So, if you’re already working with a small kitchen, making sure your design flows from one room to the next is vital.
Mitchell Channon Design does it beautifully in this kitchen and living room area, with gray cabinetry morphing into a tall gray bookcase, then shorter gray shelving along the living room wall. This, along with the same dark flooring throughout the entire space, creates one expansive space instead of two smaller areas.
21. Use a Bold Pattern
A small kitchen doesn’t need to be boring and bland, and using a bold pattern can help expand the space. Not to mention it adds a sense of sophisticated style. Just make sure you don’t overdo it. Too much pattern packed into a tiny area can get you the opposite effect of what you’re going for.
Instead, pick one place to showcase your pattern, like the backsplash or the kitchen floor. MR Direct shows how a bold lattice design on the floor of this small kitchen helps broaden the whole space while contrasting nicely with the other more subdued finishes in the room.
22. Don’t Forget About Empty Spaces
Kitchens tend to be full of small nooks and crannies that often go unused and wasted. Typically, people assume these areas are so small that there’s not much they can do with them. We’re talking about places like the narrow space alongside your stove or underneath kitchen cabinets. A big offender when it comes to wasted space?
The abyss above your refrigerator; you can do so much more with it than just stash some half-eaten bags of old chips. Maximize your storage potential and build out the whole spot for something fun like this diamond wine rack from Not So Newlywed McGees.
23. Place a Curtain Under an Open Kitchen Sink
Like French-country and classic farmhouse kitchens, a popular element in many kitchen designs is to have an open space beneath the kitchen sink. While fewer cabinets might help these spaces feel larger, it does have some drawbacks.
For example, if you lack cabinetry beneath your kitchen sink, you may think you’re also missing out on valuable storage. But, with a tension rod and a pretty curtain, like this one from Stephanie Cotton’s Pinterest, you’ve got your storage groove back. Behind the curtain, you can store various supplies, more oversized items, or even install under-the-sink shelving.
24. Opt for Pretty Appliances and Kitchenware
When storage space is slim in a small kitchen, sometimes it means making some difficult choices, like paring down your stuff. Think about it; do you really need 20 mixing bowls and 10 whisks? Then, decide what you prefer to hide away in your limited cabinet space.
To give yourself more room inside cabinets, forgo keeping your small appliances and larger items like serving ware and vases inside of them. Instead, choose to double up these items as decor in your kitchen. Select beautiful pieces that make a statement, like this jaw-dropping sea glass stand mixer from KitchenAid’s Pinterest
25. Tap Into Hidden Storage
If you prefer a more modern, streamlined look in the kitchen, then your preference likely sways to hiding as many things as possible. But what do you do when something like cabinet and pantry space is in short supply? You start finding hidden crannies and secret places to stash your kitchen essentials.
Of course, you don’t want to sacrifice function, so make sure to stow things away where you need them, like this ingenious hidden storage idea. It hides away spices, mugs, and other supplies inside the backsplash. The space offers just enough shallow storage for these smaller items.
26. Use a Runner in a Galley Kitchen
Galley-style kitchens aren’t always a favorite since they tend to be smaller and feel closed off from the rest of the home. Still, some prefer the separation that these kitchens provide. But, no matter what your preference, if you have one of these hallway-like kitchens, you’d probably like it to feel bigger.
Using a runner with a bold pattern, like this one from Dering Hall’s Pinterest, can help carry your eye through the space, pulling you visually forward into the next room. The overall effect is the illusion that you have a kitchen larger than it actually is.
27. Get a Sink Cover
In small kitchens, you tend to have to make some compromises. Sometimes, you may ditch the idea of a table and chairs because you want more counter space, and of course, sometimes the opposite is the case. But, if your kitchen is lacking in prep space, and you can’t squeeze in anything like a kitchen cart or portable island, there’s still hope.
You just have to think about every potential surface, including the kitchen sink. This beautiful, handmade sink cover from Etsy turns your sink into an extra prep surface. Plus, the handles make it a convenient serving tray as well.
28. Play with a Monochromatic Color Scheme
Using a monochromatic color scheme can help expand a space visually thanks to its cohesive design. You don’t need to stick to white or gray; monochromatic means selecting various shades and tones of a single color. For example, check out this blue showstopper from Architectural Digest, which mixes in natural tones for some balance.
Using this type of color palette keeps your eye moving around the room, thereby making the space feel more open. It’s also a relatively easy palette to work with, although you still want to stay intentional with your choices to keep things from becoming boring.
29. Use a Console Table as an Island
If you want a way to fit an island in your small kitchen, but you’re working with a narrower space, it’s time to use your re-imagination. Taking an item intended for one room and transforming it into the perfect piece for a different room is an excellent way to add interest and personality to your design.
Dezine Fun with Michelle’s Pinterest turns a small console table into a charming kitchen island by adding a base, some paint, and a towel bar. You can do so many things with this idea, so let your imagination go to work.
30. Try a Mirrored Backsplash
You’ve probably heard about adding things like mirrors to a room to help it feel bigger, right? For example, mirrored closet doors in the bedroom or a few mirrors hanging around a tiny bathroom can be an asset in these small spaces.
The idea is mirrors help reflect light, spreading it around the room and helping it feel more open. But hanging a bunch of mirrors in your kitchen probably feels, well, weird. Well, not if you do it in a way that makes sense, like this fabulous antique mirror backsplash from Luxury Glass NY.
31. Go Backless
When you’re designing a small space, try to avoid using overly bulky pieces of furniture. This can stifle a space, getting very overpowering and visually weighing the room down. Ultimately, this ends up making your kitchen feel even smaller.
Instead, choose some low-profile pieces, so you still get the function that you need without all of the heaviness. These backless stools from Pier1 are a great way to add extra seating to a small kitchen without taking up a lot of visual space. The overall effect is a kitchen that looks and feels uncluttered and beautiful.
32. Make Your Fridge Blend In
One of the biggest elephants in the room when it comes to kitchens is the refrigerator. Even if you choose a shiny, brand new model, they’re still big, and in many small spaces, they can kind of take over. Consider hiding your fridge away inside of some cabinets that match the rest of your cabinetry.
Making your fridge blend into the background can help your kitchen feel less cramped and more spacious. In this example from JustHomesGroup’s Pinterest, separate, slim fridge and freezers flank a built-in bar area and sport doors that match the surrounding cabinetry.