37 Ways to Make Your Small Kitchen Better

A small kitchen can be challenging to work in, organize, and enjoy, but there are ways to make your small kitchen better. This post is a collection of our top small kitchen ideas. You can improve the space you have so it’s where you truly love to be.

Light is the Key to an Awesome Small Kitchen

Light makes all the difference in any room, but especially in a small kitchen. Proper light is essential to create a space that’s inviting and to make it feel spacious and open.

Reflective or high-gloss surfaces

1. Reflective or high-gloss surfaces create a sense of natural light and make the space feel large. It’s the same illusion you get with a mirror. Use this technique to your advantage on various surfaces including your backsplash, cabinets, and countertops. You could even use a mirrored backsplash to reflect light and add depth.

reflective or high gloss surfaces


2. Especially in a small space, windows open up the room and make it feel bigger. Install as many windows as possible in your small kitchen.

windows open up the room and make it feel bigger

3. A skylight can give you the open feel of a window without taking up valuable wall space. Let the sun shine in!

Let the sun shine in

bright small kitchen


Smart lighting

4. Recessed lighting (hidden underneath upper cabinets) can brighten up your small kitchen without taking up any space at all. Optimize the effect with bright countertops and light-colored cabinetry for a clean, spacious look.

Smart Storage for Small Kitchens

For many small kitchens, storage is the biggest challenge. Even if you can make do with a tiny countertop and a cramped work area, having enough space to store your food, dishes and cookware requires the skill of a Tetris expert. 

Think “minimalism”

5. Reduce the amount of dishes you have. Do you really need that many coffee mugs? And if you only keep what you really love and what really goes with your kitchen style, it will complement your kitchen design instead of cluttering it up.

Reduce the amount of dishes you have

Get creative

6. Use a pot rack to hang pots over your island. This is the most efficient use of all that empty space.

Row of gleaming copper pans hanging on the wall in luxury kitchen

7. Attach magnetic knife strips on the wall to avoid cluttering your counter with a knife block or filling valuable drawer space.

magnetic knife strips

8. Magnetic spice boxes for the side of your fridge add functionality to that essential but large appliance. It also happens to be one of the best ways to store spices regardless of the size of your kitchen!

9. Create storage in every possible nook and cranny. Add cubby storage to fill otherwise unused spaces (such as above a window or your range hood or the space in front of your sink).

cubby storage

10. Add a rod with hooks under upper cabinets and shelves to hang mugs and cooking utensils. The goal is to take up as little drawer, cupboard and countertop real estate as possible.

rods with hooks

rods with hooks & magnetic knife strip

11. Install an “appliance garage” to clear countertop clutter. Tuck away your toaster, blender, or stand mixer with ease. Make this feature even better by using a spring-loaded shelf so you can easily access those small appliances.

Store strategically

12. Contrary to popular belief, you can install a shelf across a window. Use it to store glass dishes or decorative items or plants that won’t completely block the light.

13. Use the space above your cabinets. Store items in decorative baskets or bins. Be sure you have a step ladder or stool you can use when you need to access this high storage. 

14. Add an extra shelf. Think creatively. Could you fit a small one above your stove to store seasonings? Or consider a shelf at your windowsill, for example.

add an extra shelf

15. Open shelves are on trend and create an airy feel. Be careful not to make them look too busy by cluttering them up. This storage option works well when you can master minimalism in your small kitchen.

open shelves

16. Create extra storage with seating. A bench seat can double as linen storage or a bulk food pantry, for example. 

Design Strategies for Small Kitchens

A “less is more” approach to design is best for small kitchens. Your goal with the design for your small kitchen is to master the workflow to make that best possible use of the space you have. A professional designer can help you maximize the functionality and purpose of your space.

a professional kitchen designer

Visual manipulation: draw eyes up & create illusion 

17. Streamline silhouettes in your small kitchen. Smooth, clean lines take up less visual space.

streamline silhouettes

18. A small statement backsplash can draw the eye in and add interest while leaving plenty of white space to keep your small kitchen bright.

a small statement backsplash

19. Integrate panel doors to hide your small space. You can slide them closed to make your kitchen disappear. Or use them just to minimize the visual disruption of appliances.

panel doors

20. Choose cabinets that extend all the way up to the ceiling. This draws the eye up and creates an illusion of a larger space. 

21. Horizontal tiling makes the space feel wider. Subway tiles are a trending option.

horizontal tiling

22. Be mindful of your bar stools. If they’re too tall, they take up too much visual real estate. Keep them level or below the countertop. Choose a color that blends in with the cabinetry. 

23. If your kitchen and dining area is part of an open concept with your living room, make your kitchen blend into the living room. If it looks completely separate, the smallness stands out.

make your kitchen blend into the living room

24. Break up a bank of cabinets with glass fronts and display a nice dishware collection.

25. Use statement light fixtures to draw the eye up and add visual interest without taking up space.

Choose color & design features carefully

26. Organize strategically. Use every space for storage. Think outside the box. Hang utensils on the side of the island or the end of a cabinet, for example. Arrange dishes by color to create a sense of cohesion instead of clutter. 

27. Skip bulky hardware (drawer pulls and faucets) and go for a more streamlined look.

skip bulky hardware

28. Brighter is better. Choose white and add pops of color for interest.

29. Add plants to brighten up the small space.

add plants

Increase Space in Your Small Kitchen

You might not be able to change the square footage of your kitchen space, but with some strategic changes, you can still create more working or eating space. 

Maximize surfaces

30. Make your island or peninsula multi-purpose. Use it for eating and preparing food. Installing your sink here adds even more functionality.

31. Create more counter space by adding even a tiny island or including a wrap-around countertop

32. An angled peninsula can add more space than a typical right-angled design provides.

33. Use a bar cart and/or a rolling cart with a butcher block top for food prep. The advantage of this is the ability to tuck it out of the way when it’s not in use.

34. Create more eating space with an overhanging countertop and bar stools. It’s a simple way to maximize countertop space.

overhanging countertop and bar stools

35. Choose a sturdy, durable dining table that can double as a work surface.

multi-purpose surfaces

36. Use a tall table (like a cocktail table) if your kitchen is too small for a dining table. It can be both a nook and an island.

tall table

37. Lower your raised eating bar to be even with the rest of your countertops to increase work space.

More Small Kitchen Ideas

These ideas for small kitchens can help you create a better kitchen for your small space. But there are more ideas where these came from! The expert designers at Riverstone Kitchens & Renovations can create a custom design for your small kitchen that makes it a space you’ll love. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Share this post

Stay Updated

Subscribe to our quarterly newsletter for design & renovation tips, promos, and more!