50 Small Kitchen Ideas From Interior Designers


They say that a kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where you craft delicious meals for people you love, it serves as a congregating spot during a party or event, and it holds space for both memories past and yet to come.

This is true no matter the size of the space. Even if you’re working with a small kitchen, it makes sense to optimize every square inch so it becomes a place where you enjoy spending time. From cozy seating nooks to clever organizational tips, these small kitchen ideas deliver big impact without compromising style or function.

Table of Contents

Be Intentional With Every Square Inch

Anastasia Casey

Space is a valuable commodity in a tiny kitchen, so make the most of every square inch. In this design by Anastasia Casey, floating shelves are added wherever possible, counters are thoughtfully elongated, and a petite oven range allows for more counter space.

Take Cabinets to the Ceiling

Libby Palmieri

Leverage vertical space by taking your cabinets to the ceiling, says Libby Palmieri, principal at House of L Designs. “Taking the cabinets to the ceiling helped the space [pictured above] feel much larger at only 88 square feet,” she says.

Keep the Island Open Underneath

Bethany Adams Interiors

If your small kitchen has enough room for an island, consider keeping it open underneath. “This keeps the space from feeling too crowded and blocky,” says Bethany Adams of Bethany Adams Interiors.

Add Shelving Above the Sink

Meghan Beierle-O’Brien

Unless there’s a window above a kitchen sink, this space tends to remain empty. Make the most of it by adding a few rows of open shelving, as seen in this design by Caren Rideau. The area still feels open while providing more storage.

Embrace Rich Tones and Textures

Avery Cox Design

A standard white kitchen can sometimes come across as cold and without much personality. The infusion of color and texture in this space is a kitchen trend that’s here to stay. A palette of rich tones makes this small kitchen design by Avery Cox feel luxurious and intimate.

Consider Splashy Bright Colors, Too

Natalia Robert

If you do like the bright white look, break up the monotony with some carefully placed splashy colors. The aqua backsplace pictured here brings this space to life without feeling kitschy.

Incorporate a Skylight

Libby Palmieri

Small spaces have a tendency to feel dark, so incorporate natural light as best as you can. “We added a gabled skylight over the center island to help bring in natural light and act as an architectural ‘crown’ in an otherwise simple space,” says Palmieri.

Opt For an Open Layout

Conor Harrigan Photography

Open floor plans aren’t going anywhere soon, and that’s certainly true of kitchens that open into dining or living spaces. That concept is demonstrated beautifully here in a small kitchen by Re: Design Architects.

“Opting for an open-format kitchen in a small living space is a smart move because it optimizes your area by eliminating walls or partitions, making it look and feel more spacious,” says Kinlaw. “This design choice also enhances natural light flow and encourages social interaction.”

Take Your Cue From the Home’s Style

Cory Rodeheaver

It’s important that your kitchen feels like a part of your home versus a completely different space. This 1920s farmhouse kitchen, designed by Cory Rodeheaver Spectrum Design Group, embraces the original feel with beautiful arches and cabinetry.

“The final design captured the period and style of the existing home, yet produced a kitchen that was functional and allowed plenty of room for new ‘modern’ appliances,” he says.

Install Corner Shelving

Sam Lund

Cabinets can feel a bit clunky in teeny spaces. As an alternative, consider swapping in floating corner shelves, as seen in this design by interior designer Sam Lund.

Incorporate a Half-Size Kitchen Bar

David Patterson Photography

If space doesn’t allow for a full size kitchen island or bar, that doesn’t necessarily mean you must eliminate one from your design plans. This small kitchen by Rumor Designs features a half-sized bar that fits beautifully into the natural footprint of the space.

Add Storage Under the Island

Ryan McDonald Photography

Alternatively, make the island a destination for plates, cups, and serving ware, as seen here in a design by interior designer Chris Kinlaw for Gil Melott Studio. The transparent doors help you see what’s inside and provide a sense of openness.

Update and Maximize Existing Cabinetry

Carolyn de Agosto, Chris Atwood Photography

Old cabinetry can sometimes look worn down, but it also doesn’t function as well as modern cabinetry does, notes Rodeheaver. Instead of simply opting for a facelift via sanding and paint, price out options for completely new cabinetry, as seen here in a design by Carolyn de Agosto of The Scale Collective. If your budget is tight or time doesn’t allow, then maximize existing cabinetry with modern storage solutions.

Try Benches Instead of Bar Stools

Libby Palmieri

Palmieri was tasked with accommodating a cooking and gathering area large enough for a couple and their children in this small kitchen. Instead of traditional bar stools at the island, she added two long benches to maximize the seating potential.

Hang Items From the Ceiling

Whitney Leigh Morris

Hanging items from the ceiling of a small kitchen is another way to maximize the space. In this design by interior designer Whitney Leigh Morris, a hanging fruit basket adds rustic charm while serving an important function.

Swap in a Small Range

David Patterson Photography

In extra tiny kitchens, a narrow stove/oven can help save space while still providing plenty of room for cooking and baking. This beautiful range looks right at home in a kitchen by Rumor Designs.

Opt for a Small Island

Jeff Herr Photography

You don’t need to forego an island in a tiny kitchen. If space is limited and you want to maintain good flow, opt for a small island like interior designer Yvonne McFadden did here. The double shelving provides more storage, and the singular statement pendant above makes it feel intentional.

Build a Petite Coffee Nook

Meghan Bob Photography

Interior designer Caren Rideau of the Kitchen and Design Group proves you can have your small kitchen and coffee nook, too. The recessed built-ins don’t take up as much real estate space, and provide a place for cookbooks, vases, and other necessities. For a streamlined look, consider adding doors to your coffee nook, as seen here.

Let There Be (Lots) of Light

Whitney Leigh Morris

When it doubt, remember that more light is always better.

“Sunshine is the ingredient to making any small spaces feel bigger and more inviting,” says Ashley Macuga of Collected Interiors. “Instead of sizing down that kitchen sink window, we recommend the opposite, size up.”

Add a Built-In Wine Rack

Avery Nicole Photography

Kristin Marina of KozyKasa got creative with storage solutions in this small kitchen design. The island features a built-in wine rack on the right side along with storage underneath, and a tall and narrow pantry provides lots of space for food.

Install a Corner Sink

Avery Nicole Photography 

A corner sink has a few perks in a small kitchen. First, it maximizes space by leaving more room on the countertops for meal prep. It can also optimize workflow and create a more open feel.

Make the Fridge Feel Intentional

Sam Lund

There’s no getting around a bulky fridge in a small kitchen, but there are ways you can make it feel like a more seamless part of the design. Here, Lund added paneling and cabinetry around it, which tied into the cabinets on the other side of the space.

Or Try a Hidden Fridge

Unique Kitchens and Baths

Another way to make a fridge feel more seamless in a small kitchen is to hide it altogether. This is a splurge and requires some careful measuring and installation, but the result is a more streamlined appearance. (It’s located on the middle right in this design by Unique Kitchens and Baths).

Go Vertical With Your Storage

Whitney Leigh Morris

 Go vertical with some of your most essential tools to maximize storage and allow them to pull double-duty as decorative flourishes as well. “Mug hooks, pan racks, magnetic rails and clips, and S-hooks—for suspending everything from textiles to cutting boards to measuring cups—can help a tight kitchen function smartly while giving it an entirely unique appearance,” Morris says.

Install Floating Shelves

Nicole Diane Photography

When designing a kitchen with limited square footage, it can be tempting to fill every inch of every wall with cabinetry.

“Storage is, of course, important and critical for functionality, but it should be balanced with the need to bring natural light into the room,” says Ashley Macuga of Collected Interiors. Floating shelves provide that contrast and offer a nice sense of openness.

Stretch Your Backsplash Up to the Ceiling

Ryan McDonald Photography

Taking the backsplash up to the ceiling helps the room feel taller and more spacious. These black, vertical tiles chosen by Chris Kinlaw make a bold statement, too.

Enjoy a Cozy Dining Nook

Sam Lund

A cozy dining nook adjacent to your kitchen makes the entire space feel more social and welcoming. It can also serve as a primary dining space in a tiny home. Accessorize it with cozy pillow and fun seating.

Use the End of Your Island for Storage

Meredith Owens Interiors

Here’s another creative way to gain more storage in a small kitchen. This island end cap shelving, in a design by Meredith Owens Interiors, provides room for recipe books, beautiful decor, and a radio.

Opt for a Sleek Exhaust Fan

Ryan McDonald Photography

An exhaust fan can quickly eat into the upper space of a small kitchen. Streamline your design and save space by opting for a slick design, as pictured here.

Incorporate Small Built-Ins

Cory Rodeheaver

Strategically placed, small built-ins allow for extra storage in tucked-away spaces. In this small kitchen design by Rodeheaver, the shelves provide the perfect place for olive oil, vinegar, and other cooking essentials.

Go For the Farmhouse Sink

Cory Rodeheaver

Farmhouse sinks are popular for a reason: They’re highly convenient. They provide ample space for scrubbing dishes and washing food and can often be found in styles that are deeper than they are wide.

Choose a Statement Backsplash

Cory Rodeheaver

Incorporating playful touches into your small kitchen instantly creates more character and dimension. For example, this funky backsplash placed behind the stove in a design by Rodeheaver creates a warm and inviting place to cook.

Use Wall Space for Smart Storage

Sam Lund

Leverage wall space in a small kitchen by installing handy storage solutions—like a magnetic knife holder—and hooks for beautiful pots and pans.

Turn Your Entryway Into a Walk-In Pantry

Cory Rodeheaver

If your home’s configuration allows, consider re-thinking the existing layout to gain more space. “We redesigned the back entry to be a full walk-in pantry,” says Rodeheaver. “Custom leaded glass work added a special focal point for this new room.”

Consider a Built In Microwave

Spectrum Design Group

Counter space is often limited in small kitchens, so do what you can to save space. A built-in microwave keeps your prep space open.

Get Super Organized

Sam Lund

Organization is important in any home, but it becomes imperative in a small space.

“Designing for small spaces is all about being functional and smart,” Lund says. “Using all cupboard and shelf space appropriately and using depth space. We use clear stacking containers and bins that are properly labeled so each item has a home and is easy to find.”

Keep Counters Clear With An ‘Appliance Garage’

Michael Alan Kaskel

Another way to leverage limited countertop space is to designate a cabinet or area in your pantry as an “appliance garage.” This is where you can store small appliances that aren’t used on a daily basis.

Leverage Space Nearby for More Storage

Ami McKay, PURE Design

If space is very tight within the kitchen itself, don’t be afraid to leverage space in adjoining rooms to get more storage. In this small kitchen design, Ami McKay of PURE Design utilized shelving on the opposite side for cups and other kitchenware.

Really Make It Your Own

Sam Lund

Don’t be afraid to truly personalize your kitchen and make it a space that feels cozy, lived-in, and welcoming. Add some greenery, incorporate art, and showcase cups and plates that are special to you.

Make Your Cutting Boards Art

Sam Lund

Cutting boards can take up precious drawer space, so consider keeping them on display instead. Choose designs that are beautiful and heighten the overall aesthetic of your kitchen.

Keep Organized With Trays

Sam Lund

Free-floating kitchen essentials can quickly make a space feel chaotic. Trays are a simple way to improve organization in your kitchen while ensuring everything has a place to live.

Have Fun With Pendant Lighting

Sam Lund

There are so many directions you can go with kitchen pendant lighting, so consider all your options and have fun with this design choice—which can make a big impact in a small space. These black starburst pendants complement the black details and funky backsplash in this kitchen designed by Lund.

Ground the Space With a Rug

Sam Lund

Rugs belong in every room of the home—including kitchens! Not only do they ground the space and offer a touch of personality, but they also can provide some cushion in an area where you’re sometimes on your feet for long periods. For this space, consider a washable rug option that you’re not afraid to dirty, and use anti-slip grips to keep it in place.

Incorporate a Nearby Bar

Atellier Davis / Heidi Harris

Cocktail accoutrement can take up quite a bit of valuable real estate in an already tight kitchen. Consider creating a nearby space for all your bar-related goods, including glasses, shakers, decanters, and the alcohol itself. This creates a new focal point in your space and is an opportunity to infuse some of your own style.

Create Additional Storage With a Nearby Hutch

Thibault Jeanson

Similary, a hutch placed in an adjoining dining room provides a designated place for pieces you use both everyday and for special ocassions. A corner piece is especially effective at utilizing space.

Install a Slim Pullout Cabinet

Annie Schlechter

A slim pullout cabinet installed near the sink or oven can provide more storage space while helping you stay organized. Use it to store dishwashing and cleaning essentials, or consider one that’s dedicated to cooking spices.

Add Texture With Wallpaper

Chango & Co. / SarahElliott

Wallpaper is another brilliant way to build dimension and add character to a small kitchen. If the idea of an entire wall or room doesn’t seem like your style, consider accent touches here and there.

Install a Small Dishwasher

Lindsey King Photography

A dishwasher is a modern luxury that can feel hard to live without. If your kitchen doesn’t allow for a full-size dishwasher, consider a compact option instead.

Make an Impact With Floor Tiling

Kelly Martin / Meghan Beierle O’Brien

Add character to your small kitchen by incorporating a statement tile. The key to making it work is ensuring it complements the rest of the kitchen’s aesthetic, as seen here.

Install a Tilt-Down Drawer

Annie Schlechter

Take advantage of even the tiniest nooks in your small kitchen. For example, a tilt-down drawer just below the sink allows you to tuck away sponges and brushes.


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