Article by: Sara Emslie

Even the smallest of kitchen spaces needs to deliver big when it comes to form and function. No matter how awkwardly shaped or compact your cooking space, design tricks can help make even tiny corners work hard and look good too. These kitchens offer ideas for getting more from less and giving a high-function space a clean, uncluttered appearance.

Use open storage as display. If your tiny kitchen is part of a larger open-plan space, consider an island with built-in open shelves. This will add storage and display space and help separate food prep, cooking and clean-up areas from those for other living functions. 

Use attractive tableware, accessories and cookbooks to create a pleasing display.

Store high (and seamlessly). A clever way to add storage in a tiny kitchen is to position it high up the wall. Installing storage above seating, such as a built-in bench, can be a particularly smart use of space. 

For a clean, contemporary feel, fit the cupboards with push latches, removing the need for a door handle and creating a seamless finish that gives the impression of more space. A ladder stored away — perhaps inside a bench seat — can be used to access high cupboards.

Custom build a pantry cupboard. Well-planned storage makes efficient use of space and can help keep your kitchen organized. Consider a custom all-in-one pantry cupboard if you’re designing a kitchen from scratch. Install custom storage baskets for shelves and rail bars and baskets for cupboard doors to make the most of the space inside. 

A cupboard pantry can be used to store everything from food to china and kitchen equipment. And when the doors are closed, it’s all neatly out of sight.

Integrate built-in appliances. Shop around for appliances that will work in compact spaces and consider integrating them into your kitchen design. The framework needed for integrated designs eats up a little more lateral space, but the result will be a neater look. 

Think laterally, too — dishwashers are available as pullout drawers and can be paired with a storage drawer with the same front for a fuss-free finish. Microwaves and ovens can be fitted into a bank of wall cupboards, freeing up counter space for other kitchen essentials.

Think industrial. Utilitarian styling is ideal for making the most of a compact kitchen. It echoes the kitchens of days gone by, and its robust aesthetic says it means business, despite being a tiny space. Look for subway tiles, industrial factory lighting and Shaker-style units that combine beauty with utility.

Squeeze in an eating space. Having a space for sitting and eating in a kitchen, no matter how small, doubles the room’s functionality, making it feel more substantial. 

A compact breakfast bar, for example, can be both a dining area and an additional work surface for food preparation. To save space, choose bar stools that can be tucked under the counter when not in use. Try giving this tiny tabletop a separate visual identity with bold accessories, such as bright artwork and standout lighting. 

A fold-out, wall-mounted table is another option for a small kitchen.

Highlight character with color. Flashes of vivid color are ideal for adding a wow factor to a tiny space. It might be small, but it can still have presence. 

Against a pure white background, neon shades really stand out, so use these to emphasize any design features that have character and style. Maximize the different sizes and configurations of drawer and cupboard fronts to create eye-catching color combinations and design appeal.

Stick to a restricted palette, though, and keep clutter stored so as not to overcrowd your little kitchen.

Go for top of the line. Being small on space doesn’t mean a kitchen can’t be big on style. Adopt a high-end approach for fixtures and hardware in an otherwise minimal space to give a compact kitchen a designer look. 

Smart handles, inset lighting, state-of-the-art integrated appliances, contemporary faucets and molded draining boards are all design features often found in larger, more expensive kitchen designs, but they can add a big style hit to a tiny kitchen too.

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