A young woman kneads pizza dough in her small kitchen. She's maximized her space by hanging common utensils and by keeping things uncluttered

Small Kitchen Renovation: 21 Very Small Kitchen Ideas on a Budget

Kitchen Remodeling

by Kat Piccolo Posted on May 21, 2024

It’s obvious: In a small kitchen, every square inch of space matters. So if you’re looking for small kitchen renovation ideas (or very small kitchen ideas) on a budget, we’ve got you. And the best part? You don’t need a ton of materials. From implementing small kitchen storage ideas to creating a more spacious feel overall, here are 21 ways to elevate your cooking space and maximize your square footage without blowing your budget.

1. Consider Light and Airy Colors.

Paint is one of the easiest ways to transform a space, which makes it one of our favorite budget kitchen ideas. If you’re planning to paint the cabinets or walls, keep this in mind: Light colors can make a space feel less cramped. When you have lighter colors in a room, it allows both the natural and artificial light to bounce throughout the space. When you have darker colors, they absorb the light and can make a space feel smaller and more intimate.

And while colors can play a huge part in defining the space of your kitchen, the amount of natural light is also important. If your space is north-facing or doesn’t have a lot of natural light, consider off-whites and warm grays — stark white paint in a low-light kitchen can end up looking dingy.

Here are a few of the most popular light and airy paint colors for kitchens:
  • Benjamin Moore Simply White
  • Behr Snow Fall
  • Benjamin Moore White Dove
  • Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee
  • Sherwin Williams Creamy
  • Behr French Gray
  • Sherwin Williams Amazing Gray

Pro Tip: Finding “oops” paints are great for people on a budget. These are colors that were mixed incorrectly at home improvement stores, but they’re then sold at a big discount. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right?

2. Maximize the Space Above Your Cabinets.

Vertical space is key when it comes to small kitchen storage ideas. Add storage by utilizing the room above your kitchen cabinets. Buy a set of stylish bins, like these decorative baskets and bins from Target or these creatively designed utility baskets from World Market. Then, you can store all kinds of items you don’t use regularly — plus they double as beautiful decor above your cabinets. Try DIY-ing your own basket labels to keep track of everything.

Stainless steel pots and pans are hanging from a suspended rack, maximizing the limited storage available in the small kitchen.

To create vertical storage, you can hang pots and pans from the ceiling or from a wall-mounted rack.

3. Hang Pots and Pans From a Ceiling Rack.

Another way to create vertical storage? Hanging a rack on the ceiling. You can hang pots and pans instead of letting them take up valuable cabinet space. These options from Wayfair are affordable and designed to hang from the ceiling. Don’t have the clearance for a ceiling rack? Consider a wall-mounted rack, like these from Home Depot. Whatever type of solution you choose, just make sure it’s rated to hold heavy pots and pans, if that’s what you need.

4. Bring in Some Color With a Small Rug.

Upgrade your standard kitchen mat with a vibrant flat-weave rug in a small size, like a 2' x 3' or small runner. It’s an easy way to introduce a bit of color and warmth to a small kitchen. You can find fun, unique designs for affordable prices. Just be sure to look for a rug woven from durable materials that are easy to clean, like recycled polyester or washable cotton. And make sure to get a non-slip rug pad for underneath to ensure it stays in place — which is especially important for high-traffic areas like the kitchen.

Various day-to-day cooking implements are arranged neatly on a kitchen counter and on the floating shelf above.

Try streamlining your kitchen must-haves and keeping them close at hand, so they’re easy to grab when you need them.

5. Display Your Favorite Functional Items.

When storage space is at a minimum, often the only spot for things is on your countertop or wall. Try streamlining your kitchen tools to the items you actually use, and then use hooks to hang them from the wall or keep them on display (but still easy to grab when you need them!). Here’s a few quick budget kitchen ideas: Stack up your cutting boards or hang them from hooks, use a magnetic strip on the wall to display your best knives, or hang pots and pans on the wall in front of the stove.

6. Add Storage to the Inside of Your Doors.

For another way to maximize small kitchen space, consider adding storage to the inside of your cabinet doors. A great spot to start would be the cabinets below your sink. Instead of cluttering your sink area with dish soap and sponges, stow everything away in a basket attached to the inside of your cabinet. There are affordable over-the-door options, or you can try one of these DIY cabinet door storage ideas.

A portion of a kitchen counter looks brighter and newer after some small kitchen updates, including a new decorative teal backsplash.

For an instant impact in your small kitchen, update your backsplash to something with a bold color or fun pattern.
(Source: @moonstickers via Instagram)

7. Switch Up Your Backsplash.

There are more options for very small kitchen ideas on a budget than ever before — thanks to the popularity of home DIY projects. For an instant impact in your small kitchen, update your backsplash to something with a bold color or fun pattern. Home Depot has an entire section of peel-and-stick backsplash, which takes little time and effort to install. And with many options under $15 per square foot, it won’t take much moolah to update the small space, either!

8. Utilize the Space Under Your Upper Cabinets.

Free up your counter space with another storage solution: Racks installed to the underside of your upper cabinetry. It’s the perfect spot for a paper towel holder. You can also find special racks made for hanging wine glasses or wine bottles. And if you don’t want to attach anything to the underside of your cabinet, you could install a small shelf or storage rack to the wall below. It’s an ideal spot for storing dishes, cooking utensils, or mugs.

Close-up of some DIY wooden shelves that were recently installed in a small kitchen. The shelves are already neatly filled with cups, mugs, plates, and other kitchen items.

Open shelving can make your small kitchen feel bigger and less closed in — plus it doesn’t cost much if you do it yourself.

9. Build Your Own Shelving.

While storage is always crucial in a small kitchen, open shelving can make it feel bigger and less closed in — plus it doesn’t cost much if you do it yourself. All you need is some wood, shelf brackets, and nails or wall anchors. And you’ll want to make sure there’s around 15 to 20 inches of space from your countertop to the bottom of your lowest shelf. For inspiration, see how the blogger behind Lemon Thistle created kitchen shelves for less than $20 each.

10. Create a Coffee Corner.

To cut down on your overall small kitchen renovation cost and save on your morning pick-me-up, you can carve out a corner for your coffee. This is a renovation that requires some extra planning, as you’ll need a bar or separate corner of your kitchen cordoned off, but it’s easy to incorporate into your existing layout. Go the extra mile and spoil yourself with an at-home barista system and all your favorite drinkware.

 Side-by-side promotional images of large pendant statement lights from IKEA. The lamp on the left has a bronze finish and the one on the right is painted blue.

Consider an oversized light for a statement in a small kitchen.
(Source: IKEA)

11. Add a Statement Light.

Since many small kitchens only have one light, it’s the perfect opportunity to go for something bold. Make a statement with a unique flush-mount light or colorful pendant, like these budget IKEA options. Consider an oversized light for a statement in a small space — one large light can expand the room, while multiple small lights can make it feel more cluttered. Always measure your space first, so you can ensure the size of your light fixture or shade doesn’t affect functionality. And unless it’s above an island, a light fixture should hang at least 7 feet from the floor to ensure there’s enough clearance for walking underneath.

12. Go for Recessed Lighting.

One of our favorite small kitchen renovation ideas is completely overhauling your kitchen’s lighting. Once you’ve added a statement light, you’ll build out from there recessed bulbs that run flush with your ceiling. The minimalism here creates a clean look for your already small space, and putting those lights on a dimmer allows for easy mood-setting during get-togethers or quiet nights in.

A white display wall has various cabinet pulls installed horizontally and vertically,  so customers can see what they might look like on their own cabinets.

Switching out the hardware around your kitchen is a great way to give it a much-needed facelift.

13. Switch Up the Hardware.

Switching out the hardware around your kitchen is a great way to give it a much-needed facelift. The best part? You can easily find cheaper options on Facebook Marketplace or Etsy. If you’re in a thrifty mood, you can peruse garage sales around the neighborhood. You never know. You might strike gold and find vintage options! But if you’re in more of a rush, there are modern options — like this 30-pack of Ravinte cabinet pulls on Amazon — that can still give you a new look.

14. Do a Small-Scale Remodel.

You don’t need to blow out entire walls and rearrange your kitchen’s layout to have an effective remodel. In fact, small changes can go a long way. While there are plenty of great options to change up your entire floor plan, small kitchen remodel ideas on a budget are going to end up easier on your wallet in the long run.

So how do you maximize a small kitchen? Find hidden spots to put unique storage solutions or invest a bigger part of your budget on custom options for your small space to get the most bang for your buck. Open shelving on smaller walls is especially effective for not only maximizing your space but also making it your own.

Close-up of a pair of hands taking a couple of items out from a pantry shelf.

Separate shelving and dedicated drawers are just two (of the many) ways you can create a pantry space in your small kitchen.

15. Add a Pantry.

Your first thought when hearing the word “pantry” might be a completely separate room for all your kitchen essentials, but that’s just one possibility of many. Pantry ideas for a small kitchen are available in abundance — they just take some creativity. Separate shelving units, dedicated drawers, or combining rooms in your home (Can you sacrifice some dining room space for food storage?) can help you achieve this effect without taking up much-needed space in your already small space.

16. Make the Most of Built-Ins.

If you’re asking, “How do I design my small kitchen while still going for a timeless look?,” a built-in dining table under a few big windows is a great way to get there. Even better: If you’re wanting to combine your dining area with a pantry, we recommend going for a built-in storage solution combined with a bench to sit on. Your dinner table can be pushed up against the bench for extra seating, and you can make the most of cabinets on either side of it with storage inside the bench.

 A young woman is chopping vegetables at her small kitchen island while she watches an instructional cooking video.

Kitchen islands don’t have to be massive to be useful.

17. Add an Island.

We know, we know. An island in a small kitchen?! But hear us out: Kitchen islands don’t always have to be massive. And they also don’t have to be stationary. Consider using a small cart with wheels instead, like one of IKEA’s offerings, that can be moved out of the way when it’s not in use.

Q: What is the best kitchen layout for a small kitchen?
For a small kitchen, the most efficient is actually one that’s u-shaped or has an island. They’re great for providing counter space without tripping you up when you’re cooking. They’re easier to organize than other layouts — like galley or L-shaped kitchens — and they eliminate the potential bottleneck that comes with one-path kitchens.

18. Integrate Appliances.

A great idea for low-cost, small, simple kitchen design is to integrate appliances into your overall design. Known as “panel-ready appliances,” they’re great for boosting your renovation to provide a custom look without breaking the bank (though that might take some extra effort).

By shopping sales or open-box availability, you can find decent options that won’t break the bank, like this Bosch dishwasher from Home Depot. With custom options, you can create a cohesive kitchen that feels more like a room in your home than a cramped area that you don’t want to stand in for more than 10 minutes at a time.

A simple color illustrated print of a woman relaxing in a giant macaroni casserole.

Wall art is a great way to set the tone for your space and enhance its overall mood.
(Source: CuteSalutePrints via Etsy)

19. Add Art.

Wondering how to decorate a small kitchen on a budget? If your small space is still feeling drab after new paint colors, brighter fixtures, and new hardware, you can always hang a few art pieces. Whether it’s a vibrant abstract piece or a collection of small framed prints, wall art is a great way to set the tone for your space and enhance its overall mood. It’s also easy to switch out with the seasons, or whenever you feel like changing up your space.

Q: How do you make a small kitchen look classy?
There are a few clear-cut ways to make a small kitchen look classy, like custom appliances, updated lighting, or even two-tone cabinets, but having small touches throughout the space to truly make it your own are going to take the cake. Even if it’s a knick-knack on the counter or a separate bar for all your coffee or drink-making essentials. The answer to this question is subjective, and adding your personal touch to any space is what’s going to make it look truly “classy.”

20. Thrift Your Furniture.

Whether it’s a new dining table or frames for a gallery wall, thrift stores are treasure troves waiting to be discovered. They’re also great for budget buyers. If you’re going for an eclectic makeover, you’ll be able to find one-of-a-kind plates, cups, mugs, jars, cake stands, and so much more. They’re also great places to score vintage finds from brands like Pyrex or KitchenAid. You might be surprised by how many luxury items you score, too, while digging around! And voila! You just found the perfect way to switch out your old with new-to-you!

The interior of a cabinet with colorful floral wallpaper on the back wall. There’s a standup mixer and various dishes in the cabinet.

If you have open or even glass-door cabinets, you can use wallpaper along the back to brighten up the space.
(Source: Pinterest)

21. Brighten Up Hidden Spaces.

Finally, we recommend placing light in even the most hidden places. And we’re not just talking about battery-powered portable lights. If you have open or even glass-door cabinets, you can actually use wallpaper along the back to brighten up the space. Going for a farmhouse kitchen look, complete with closed shaker-style cabinets? Line the backs of your cabinets with a bright contact or wallpaper, too, to add a nice (surprise!) touch to your kitchen without breaking even the smallest of budgets.

Let These Small Kitchen Ideas Inspire Your Next Update

Whether you’re constantly cooking or you’re a pro with the microwave, working with a small kitchen can be hard. That’s why cosmetic updates and ingenious storage solutions are easy wins for very small kitchen ideas on a budget. Planning a remodel to eventually enlarge your tiny kitchen? Consider using a PODS portable container to store items during your project.

Kat Piccolo is a St. Petersburg-based freelance writer whose only roommate is their cat. A frequent PODS Blog contributor, Kat loves finding ways to make moving into new spaces simple and stress-free. Between yearly apartment hopping, you can find them on the waterfront or experimenting with new ways to make coffee.

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