How to Make a Small Kitchen Look and Feel Bigger

A small modern white kitchen

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December 12, 2023

We can all agree that the kitchen is the heart of any home. It’s a place for cooking, hosting, eating, socialising and gathering as a family.

Therefore, it’s a key part of the home that deserves to feel spacious and inviting, regardless of its size. After all, the chances are you spend a lot of time in your kitchen, and so you should make the most of the space, regardless of how limited it is.

If you find yourself navigating the challenges of a compact kitchen, you are in luck, as there are a variety of interior design choices and design tricks that can make a significant impact.

From playing with light and colour to maximising storage efficiency, you can make a small kitchen look and feel bigger, transforming it into a spacious and welcoming place to be.

Use Light Colours or White

Don’t underestimate the impact that light and white colours can have on interior design, especially when it comes to creating the illusion of a larger kitchen.

Light colours, particularly whites and soft neutrals have the unique ability to reflect light, causing it to diffuse and spread throughout a room. This not only brightens the space but also gets rid of a lot of shadows, giving the room the feeling of being much better.

White acts as a blank canvas, allowing natural light to bounce off surfaces and reach every corner, every ‘nook and cranny’ in the room. This is why you will see a lot of kitchens, especially galley kitchens, with a white colour scheme.

By choosing a light colour palette, it’s possible to create a more refreshing and spacious atmosphere.

Natural Light

Harnessing the power of natural light is a design strategy that many people use, and it goes beyond simply brightening a kitchen. When sunlight enters a room, it not only brightens every corner and small space, but it also gets rid of many shadows that would otherwise create darker areas.

By bringing natural light into a room, you blur the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces, making the kitchen feel as though it extends outside. Maximising windows or introducing glass doors allows for a lot of natural light to enter a room, creating a feeling of openness.

Install Reflective Surfaces

Integrating reflective surfaces into the design of a kitchen is a key way to make it feel larger, whilst also enhancing the overall look and feel of the space.

Mirrors, glossy finishes, stainless steel and metallic elements can manipulate the light, creating a sense of spaciousness. Mirrors, in particular, have the ability to boost both natural and artificial light, making a kitchen feel brighter and more open.

Glossy or mirrored furniture, as well as metallic accents, contribute to this effect by encouraging light to bounce around the space. The reflective quality of these surfaces not only adds a touch of sophistication but also makes walls and corners less noticeable, which makes the entire room feel larger.

Use Open Wall Storage

There is no denying the importance of storage space in a kitchen, but opt for open shelving instead of closed cabinets if you want to make the room look bigger. Open wall storage not only adds a touch of modernity to a kitchen, but also creates the illusion of more space by keeping your line of sight open.

Unlike traditional closed cabinets, open wall storage eliminates the visual weight and solid look associated with enclosed spaces, creating a sense of transparency and lightness throughout the room. Without solid doors, your gaze can travel freely across the wall space without any visual barriers, giving the impression of there being more space than there actually is.

Simple Lighting

Though it can be tempting to add feature lighting to a kitchen, it’s best to choose simple, straightforward lighting fixtures if you want to make a small kitchen look bigger.

A brown kitchen

Pendant lights or recessed lighting are excellent choices, as these provide a lot of light and illumination, without overwhelming the limited space available. Plus, they are on-trend and functional.

By avoiding elaborate or bulky light fixtures, less room is taken up by the lighting itself, allowing the eye to move freely from one corner to another. Additionally, simple lighting designs often provide an even and diffused type of light, which prevents harsh shadows, whilst boosting the overall brightness of the room.

Combine Workspace Surfaces

Regardless of its size, a kitchen needs workspace surfaces to be a functional part of the home. Though you can’t make a small kitchen look bigger by removing workspace surfaces completely – as without worktops, it’s hard to effectively use a kitchen – you should consider combining them by installing a kitchen island or extending countertops.

This creates a seamless, uninterrupted surface that makes the kitchen feel more connected and open.

This design choice not only enhances the functionality of the space by providing a versatile and expansive workspace, but it also enlarges the kitchen visually. The seamless connection between various surfaces eliminates visual interruptions, making the room feel more open and interconnected.

Places to Store Clutter

When you are designing a small kitchen, you can make it look bigger by ensuring that there are designated places to store clutter. A clutter-free space appears larger, so it’s a good idea to invest in smart storage solutions such as pull out shelves, hidden bins, concealed cabinets and compact organisers.

This makes sure that every item has its designated place, minimising visible clutter and maintaining a clean, unobstructed appearance, resulting in a kitchen that looks a lot larger.

Smart storage solutions not only serve a practical purpose, but they also create a streamlined and tidy design, allowing the eye to move freely across the room without encountering bulky, ‘out of place’ visual obstacles.

Mirrors

When hung in the right places, such as on backsplashes or cupboard doors, mirrors bounce natural and artificial light around a kitchen, bringing a lot of brightness and light into the space, and eliminating shadows.

This not only adds a touch of sophistication and style to the kitchen, but it also creates a sense of airiness and openness.

Mirrors create a visual depth that goes beyond the physical confines of the kitchen, making it feel a lot larger and spacious. It reflects the kitchen back in on itself, making it look as though the room goes much further, into the mirror.

If you strategically place mirrors in your kitchen, you can reflect light and create the illusion of additional space.

Slimmer Cabinets

Cabinets are a key part of creating a functional and practical kitchen, but that doesn’t mean that you need to opt for a large and bulky design. If you want to make a small kitchen look bigger, choose slimmer cabinets that maintain functionality, whilst also taking up less visual space.

A kitchen and dining table

Streamlined, sleek cabinets contribute to a clean and uncluttered appearance. The reduced width of these cabinets not only contributes to a more chic and contemporary interior design style, but it also creates the illusion of expanded space, as the same amount of cabinets can fit into the room without taking up as much space.

Compact or Integrated Appliances

When you are in the market for new kitchen appliances, focus your attention on compact or integrated options, especially those that seamlessly blend into your kitchen design.

Unlike standalone and large appliances, compact and integrated appliances seamlessly blend into the overall design of the kitchen, contributing to a clean and streamlined look.

Compact and integrated appliances eliminate the bulk associated with traditional appliances, allowing the eye to move freely across the room without being met with a bulky, large and ‘out of place’ appliance.

Whether they are concealed within cabinets or designed to blend in with the overall kitchen decor, compact and integrated appliances can change the perceived dimensions of a kitchen, making it feel noticeably more spacious.

Give the Eye a Vertical Path

By incorporating vertical lines and creating a seamless flow in a kitchen, your gaze is guided effortlessly through the room. This can be achieved through elements such as floor-to-ceiling cabinets, clear vertical tiles or a statement backsplash that draws your attention towards a specific part of the room.

This is a commonly used kitchen design tactic, that not only creates a more open and cohesive design but also contributes to increasing the perceived dimensions of the kitchen.

By giving the eye a clear path to follow, the kitchen feels more spacious and inviting, and less restrained by limited space.

Add Glass Elements

You can make a small kitchen space look bigger by adding glass elements to the space, such as transparent chairs or glass cabinet doors. These features create a sense of transparency and openness throughout the room.

Instead of blocking off the path of eyesight, the glass merely blends into everything else. Rather than standing out and blocking things off, you can gaze around the room, without being met by blocked light, dark spaces or bulky furniture.

Incorporate Vertical Lines and Patterns

A lot of people make the mistake of assuming that making a small kitchen look bigger means having to keep the design simple, but this isn’t always the case.

You can add style, pattern and design to a small kitchen by incorporating vertical lines or patterns on walls or backsplashes. Vertical lines draw the eye upward, giving the impression of higher ceilings and a lot more space.

Maximise Floor Space

In a small kitchen, it’s important to maximise your floor space. You can make a small kitchen look and feel bigger by keeping as much away from the floor as possible, which highlights the actual size of the room.

With a lot of furniture – such as cabinets, tables and seating – covering the floor, the entire room can feel a lot more cramped and claustrophobic.

Things to Avoid in Small Kitchens

If you want to avoid making a kitchen feel any smaller than it already is, there are a few things that you should avoid wherever possible.

Dark Colours

Steer clear of dark colour schemes, as they absorb light and make a kitchen feel smaller. Instead, opt for lighter tones or neutrals to reflect light and create an airy feel.

Oversized Furniture

Avoid oversized furniture that overwhelms the limited space and instead, choose compact and appropriately scaled furniture to maintain a balanced and proportional look throughout the room.

Cluttered Countertops

Resist the urge to clutter worktops with too many appliances, as a clean and unobstructed worktop creates an illusion of more space.

Busy Patterns

Avoid adding too many busy patterns to walls, floors or worktops in a small kitchen. Intricate designs can make the space feel cramped, and it’s best to opt for simpler, more subtle patterns.

Poor Lighting

It’s easy to forget about lighting, but it’s not something to forget about in a small kitchen. Poor lighting can make the kitchen appear gloomy and confined, and even smaller than it already is.

Bulky Hardware

Choose sleek and streamlined hardware, such as door handles and cabinet knobs, as bulky alternatives can overpower the overall appearance. This can make the room feel cramped, and cabinets and doors can appear heavy, with the hardware clumsily added.

By steering clear of these common pitfalls, and embracing the top tips for making a small kitchen look bigger, you can pave the way for a kitchen that defies its physical constraints. Thoughtful design choices, from colour schemes to accessory selection, can turn your small culinary space into an open and inviting part of your home.

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