14 Effective Techniques to Make Your Small Kitchen Look & Feel Bigger

You don’t have to choose between cramped or convenient in your small kitchen. Whether you’re planning a kitchen renovation or designing a kitchen for a new home, there are clever ways to make your small kitchen seem more spacious.

14 Ideas to Make Your Small Kitchen Look & Feel Bigger

We’ve rounded up 14 of our favourite ways to make your small kitchen roomier. You don’t have to employ them all. Implementing even one or two will make a big difference in your small space. 

1. Select Colours & Materials Strategically

White is a small kitchen’s best friend. It reflects light and creates the illusion of a larger space. Multiply the effect by using several shades of white throughout your kitchen. 

If white doesn’t appeal to you, stick with lighter hues like light yellows or pale grays to create an airy feel. If you’re determined to incorporate darker colours, be sure to keep the darkest shades in the lower third of the room—lighter colours on top keep a sense of that airiness.

Using similar colours on your cabinets, backsplash, countertop, and walls produces a seamless look that opens up the small space.

Consider choosing shiny, reflective surfaces, such as stainless steel, ceramic tile, glass tile, or marble to bounce light, which makes any kitchen feel bigger. 


2. Use Horizontal Lines & Patterns

In the world of fashion, horizontal lines are discouraged if you don’t want to look wider or larger. The illusion created by those lines can be used to your advantage in your small kitchen. Employ this technique with your backsplash tile or your flooring. 

Not all patterns will serve your aim to make your small kitchen look and feel bigger, but oversized diamonds or chevrons are a couple of examples that work well to make the room seem wider than it really is. This technique works best with low-contrast colours.

3. Create a Cohesive Look

Busyness in your small kitchen design breaks up the space and causes a cluttered, cramped look. Avoid this by creating symmetry and seamlessness wherever possible. One popular way of accomplishing this is with a waterfall island countertop. Or extend your countertops up the wall as your backsplash.

4. Switch to Glass Cabinet Door Fronts

Replace solid cabinet door fronts with glass to draw the eye past the cabinet frames. This technique creates depth and works best if you keep your cabinet contents orderly and colour-coordinated with your kitchen. 


Another option is to remove the cabinet doors altogether and stick with open or floating shelves. 

5. Consider Shallow Cabinets

This technique is not common, but in extremely small spaces, it has serious advantages. Install custom cabinets with a shallower depth than the standard—24 inches for base cabinets and 12-15 inches for upper cabinets. Cutting a few inches from the depth of your cabinets will give you more floor space and make a big difference in a tight kitchen.

6. Direct Eyes Up

As horizontal lines create an illusion of width, vertical lines add height. Draw the eye up by installing cabinets that go all the way to the ceiling. This provides the added benefit of extra storage space. Add decor to your walls to achieve the same lofty effect. 


7. Don’t Use a Double Sink

A single sink or a one-and-a-half sink (with a slim second bowl) takes up less space. This allows you to expand your countertop up to 12 inches. Depending on the placement of your sink, you could divvy up those 12 inches between the two sides of the sink. 

The size of your sink determines the size of the base cabinet it’s in. A double sink typically demands a 36-inch cabinet. A single sink only requires a 24-inch cabinet, giving you an extra 12 inches of space you could add to more functional adjacent cabinets. 

8. Expose the Hood

Cabinets above your hood fan usually have poor functionality. Their primary purpose is to hide the unsightly ductwork, so they have limited space for storage. Instead of wasting this space with a useless cabinet, choose a range hood that looks nice on its own and keep it “unwrapped”. Consider adding a decorative backsplash.

9. Opt for Compact or Paneled Appliances

When shopping for appliances, consider apartment- or condo-sized options. For example, a standard dishwasher is usually 24 inches in width, but a compact version is only 18 inches wide. Those six inches are valuable real estate you may want to dedicate to storage or other uses instead.

If you’re not desperate enough to choose slimmer appliances, you can still make your small kitchen look and feel bigger by opting for paneled appliances that blend in with your cabinets. This creates the seamless, cohesive look that makes the room appear more spacious.

10. Get Creative With Storage

Clutter shrinks a room, so you want to have a spot to store everything in your small kitchen instead of letting it pile up on the countertop. Special cabinet features like built-in spice racks, a corner small appliance garage, or built-in cutlery trays can help you maximize your storage space. 

Pull-out shelving is especially efficient because it allows you to take full advantage of the space without the inconvenience of having to reach into the dark depths of the cupboard.

Another option is to conserve valuable floor space by installing recessed shelves into the wall space between studs.

11. Add Patio Doors

If your kitchen is too small to welcome guests, it may be time to add French doors leading to a porch. Even a small porch can hold your barbecue or a small bistro set to expand your kitchen just enough to accommodate a small social gathering.

12. Take Out a Wall

Taking out a wall might be a measure too extreme for the project you have in mind. But even a half-wall can open up your small kitchen and create a spot for an eating bar or a convenient kitchen peninsula. 

13. Brighten the Space

Light has a huge impact on the look and feel of any room. A small kitchen with poor lighting seems even smaller. But sufficient lighting brightens up the space and makes it feel bigger. Ensure your kitchen has adequate lighting, including ambient lighting, task lighting, and accent lighting. 


If your kitchen has a window, maximize the natural light by removing drapes and minimizing any window treatments. If you must hang something over the window, choose a sheer fabric, or stick with a simple valance so the window is mostly uncovered and the light can shine through. 

See How to Choose the Best Lighting for Your Kitchen.

14. Embrace Minimalism

Eliminate clutter from your small kitchen. If you don’t use an item in the kitchen, don’t store it in the kitchen. And if you must store it in the kitchen, don’t store it on the countertop or the window sill. Keep your kitchen contents behind the cabinet doors. 

See 15 Easy Ways to Conquer Kitchen Clutter.


And speaking of cabinet doors, embrace minimalism in the design of your kitchen. Choose sleek, flat-panel doors and eliminate the hardware. Knobs and pulls, though small, take up real estate. Touch-activated latches or integrated reach-in pulls are hidden and keep the lines of your kitchen clean, contributing to the illusion of more space.

A Perfect Design to Transform Your Small Kitchen

The expert kitchen designers at Riverstone Kitchens & Renovations have decades of experience in creating functional and beautiful kitchens for small spaces. Contact us today for a free consultation to find out how your small kitchen can be transformed into a space where you love to be.

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