Probably one of the most common questions I get is "my kitchen is really small, what should I do to make the best use of the space?”. Obviously every home is different, and what may work well in one space might not be the best solution for another. Hopefully however, these tips will give you a good starting point when looking at the design of your own small kitchen space.
Tip 1 - Drawers.
This is the tip which I think almost every single kitchen could benefit from. Well laid out drawers will give you so much more storage space per linear metre of cabinets than cupboards will. Not only do drawers offer you the chance to add extra layers of storage, they also let you make use of the full depth of the unit they are in, especially with modern full extension drawer runners.
Tip 2 - Get Specific.
One often overlooked aspect of designing for a small kitchen is that making the best of your storage isn’t just about cramming as many units as you can into a space, but designing the storage to fit you specific needs. Having a well laid out plan for your storage means that everything has a home, and wasted space can be kept to a minimum. This could take the form of drawer inserts with homes for all your Chef’s knives, chopping boards or cutlery, or just shelf heights that are designed to fit your appliances under. Don’t waste space, and you will not need to fit as many cupboards in. Simple!
Tip 3 - Lose The Wall Units.
This may seem counter productive, and I know a lot of you will be thinking that in a small space making use of all the wall space is a must. But in small rooms wall units can feel really heavy, and make the space feel even smaller. Keeping the walls clear of wall units can open up the space, make the room feel lighter, brighter and generally less oppressive.
Tip 4 - Open Shelving.
If the Idea of blank walls above your units seems like too much of a waste of valuable storage space, think about open shelving. It will give you that extra storage space without making the space feel as closed in as wall cupboards, as well as giving you some great display space for those things you just don’t want to hide away. Beware though, you will need to be keen with the duster!
Tip 5 - Light Worktops, Light Floor.
When people talk to me about their colour scheme for their kitchen they are nearly always concerned most about whether their kitchen cabinet colour will make their space feel small. The truth is, if you really want to create the feeling of a larger space then you need to look at your floor and your work surfaces. Even when using really dark greys, greens, blues or even blacks, light floors and light worktops will have far more of an impact on how bright your kitchen feels than your cabinet colour. These light horizontal surfaces will reflect light back up into the room, making it feel bright and open.
Tip 6 - Let There Be Light.
This almost seems so obvious that it doesn’t need saying, but bright spaces feel bigger! Despite this, I see small kitchens with a lack of lighting all the time. Good lighting can really open up the space, and one thing that every good kitchen will have in common is a well thought out lighting plan. Think about what kind of light you will want at different times of the day. Subtle mood lighting for entertaining, or specific task lighting for cooking and food preparation. If in doubt a light can always be turned off, but it is very difficult to add lights at a later date, so if you are not sure, go for more not less.
Tip 7 - What’s Next Door.
This is a very specific solution, but can work really well in the right space. If you have a small space (for example a boiler cupboard, old outhouse or a disused outside toilet) think about knocking through to the kitchen and giving yourself a traditional walk in pantry. A well laid out pantry can create so much extra storage, that it will free up your design options in the main kitchen, and allow you more freedom to get things the way you like.
Tip 8 - Counter Top Cabinets.
Counter top cabinets don’t work for every space, but can be great for some small spaces. They allow you to hide away larger appliances when the doors are closed, but when the doors are open they allow access to extra work surface, which can be a major concern in smaller rooms. If you have high ceilings, then bespoke counter top units can be made full height and make use of every available inch of storage.
Tip 9 - What Is Under Your Stairs.
Again, this one isn’t an option for everyone, but if you don’t have a separate utility room, then think about creating laundry space under your stairs. Getting your washing machine and tumble dryer out of the kitchen can free up valuable room. And it doesn’t need to be an eye sore, with a bespoke built in cabinet under the stairs all of you laundry an appliances can be hidden away, and make use of a space that might otherwise go wasted.
Tip 10 - Hang Those Pans.
This is a quick fix solution, which can usually be fitted in ten minutes or so in an existing kitchen, to help free up some much needed room if you are struggling for storage. Pot and pans take up a lot of cupboard/drawer space. Simply fitting up a rack and hanging them can help to free up that space for something else. This is also a great excuse to go out and get some nice new copper saucepans, which surely cannot be a bad thing?
This is by no means a comprehensive list, and it is possible that some or none of these will be applicable for your space, that is where looking at you kitchen with your designer will be so important. But I hope it has given you some food for thought, and maybe sparked a few ideas. Having a small kitchen doesn’t mean you cannot have your dream kitchen, it just needs some thought and careful planning.
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