Good things come in small packages, right? Well, a cozy kitchen is no exception to that old adage. Just because your space is snug doesn’t mean you have to give up gourmet cuisine or morning chats over coffee. With artfully arranged appliances and innovative storage solutions, you can create a welcoming and well-designed kitchen with all the perks of the full-size variety. If you’re considering an update to your space, read on. We’ve put together our favorite small kitchen ideas to help you get stirring on your renovation.

What is the best design for a small kitchen?

As in any kitchen, the best small kitchen designs are those that make cooks happy. In a cozy space, that usually means breathing room and easy, convenient access to tools and ingredients. It also means not giving up the little luxuries we all enjoy in the kitchen — it’s still the heart of the home, after all, even if it’s tiny. Friends congregate in the kitchen. Families gather for a quick breakfast and help prepare dinner when the day is done. To create space for those traditional treats in your small space, consider these design ideas:

  • Open cabinetry: Bring the illusion of depth to your kitchen with glass-door shelving on your high-level cabinets — or forget the doors altogether and install open shelves. With creative placement of your glassware and dishes, your cabinets do triple-duty as art, storage, and space-enlargers. 
  • Kitchen island: A narrow island is ideal for extra prep area, which is much needed in small kitchens, along with storage opportunities. A wine cabinet works well built into an island, along with cubbies for small appliances like your mixer, blender, food processor, and air fryer.
Here are three kitchen island options to consider: 
1. Make it mobile: An island on wheels is easy to roll into the kitchen when you need extra room for prep, and roll away when you’re finished. Voilà! You regain the floor space. 
2. Add an extension: A small breakfast bar-type extension, complete with a couple of bar stools, will add even more function to the piece.   
3. Make it a peninsula: Attach an island to a wall to give you the same functionality without the large footprint. A win-win! 
A person writing on a blueprint for a U-shaped kitchen

What type of kitchen is ideal for a limited space?

The U-shaped style, fairly common in kitchen layouts, works well for small kitchen designs when real estate is in short supply. As the name implies, the shape features three walls — two parallel to one another and one at the end, in the shape of the letter “U.” Your kitchen cabinetry and appliances are aligned along the walls, leaving space for an island or utility cart in the center, if that’s your preference — and only if your space allows it. Designers advise keeping a minimum of 42 inches between the island and your cabinetry to avoid overcrowding. 

How do you make space in a small kitchen?

If your resident cook (yourself, perhaps?) prefers room to move around while preparing meals, try these small kitchen ideas to maximize space:

De-Clutter the Counters 
In a larger kitchen, you can afford to showcase that cookbook collection and the rooster figurines you’ve acquired on your travels. But in a small, galley-type space, tidy is the way to go. Move the doo-dads to the den, and preserve your premium counter space for mixing and chopping. 

Shrink Your Appliances 
You don’t have to downsize all the way to your college-dorm mini-fridge and microwave. But there are lots of options for small appliances that can open up extra real estate in your kitchen: 

  • Compact refrigerators are available in varying sizes, from around 3.2 cubic-foot shorties to tall and sleek 24-inch wide models that are perfect for narrow spaces. 
  • In the baking department, wall ovens are an interesting option if you have the right setup. The built-in style frees up other space for cabinetry or other appliances. And installed at chest-height, the wall oven is a helpful ergonomic choice — no more bending over to haul that 20-pound turkey out of there.   
  • A compact countertop dishwasher is an ideal tool for a small space. You can store it in a closet when you’re not using it. And with capacity for fewer place settings than a full-size model, it’s unlikely to spark a spousal argument about proper dishwasher-loading methodology. 
Pots and pans hanging in a kitchen window between cabinets

Climb the Walls 
Try some imaginative wall- and ceiling-anchored solutions for your kitchen storage needs:

  • A peg board with hooks is perfect for hanging pot holders, dish towels, and items you might otherwise stash in a drawer. And the splash of color they offer leads the eye up and away from a small floor area — a nifty way to create the illusion of space without the actual space.
  • Your knife collection is another opportunity to use the walls. A heavy-duty magnet called a knife strip can latch onto your blades and hold them tightly — and safely out of reach of curious little paws.  
  • Hang a pot rack from the ceiling to give your chef easy access to saute pans, skillets, and stockpots, freeing up a cabinet or two. 

Get Organized 
If you’ve spent any time at all in an apartment, you know how crucial it is to be intentional about how to make space in a small kitchen. Nobody wants to open a closet door and have an avalanche ambush them from above. The same goes for pantries, cabinets, and drawers. With a little purging and a lot of organizing, your chef and helpers will know where to turn to grab spices, utensils, and all the things necessary for making a meal — without having to dig through drawers or pull everything off of a shelf to get to the one needed item, which is invariably in the way-way back of the pantry. Can’t you hear your mom saying it now? There’s a place for everything, and everything has its place.

What colors make a small kitchen look bigger?

You can’t go wrong with a natural color palette, no matter what size kitchen you have. But for especially small spaces, whites and beiges are the best option in paint ideas for kitchen walls, creating optics of an open, airy space. And white kitchens reflect light, which adds to the sense of extra room to move. Curate a few pops of color around the room — pretty primary-colored vases on display on your open shelving, a brightly patterned kitchen backsplash, or a warm throw rug, for example — for an artsy, modern kitchen vibe.

A couple holding tools for remodeling their small kitchen with a PODS storage container outside

How do you function in your home while remodeling a kitchen?

Make room for your kitchen remodel with a PODS portable storage container. Keep it conveniently in your driveway and use it to house tools, materials, and anything else you need to keep contained and out of the way during the work. Keep it as long as you need, and when you’re done, we’ll pick it up — you just focus on all those delicious meals you’ll be making in your new space. Easy peasy! 

Seems like everybody’s remodeling these days — are you ready, too? Check out the PODS Blog for five questions to consider before you begin renovations, the latest trends, and home renovation ideas that help save energy.


Shannon Jacobs is a Tampa-based freelance writer and frequent contributor to the PODS Blog. She has lived in Atlanta, the Berkshires, and Nashville, but always returns to the warmth of Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Source: Kitchen island size: TheSpruce.com

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