A massive island. A walk-in pantry. Oodles of deep cabinets with roll-out drawers. If these phrases don’t exactly fit the description of your kitchen, you’re not alone. Tiny kitchens abound, in apartments and in single-family homes, yet lots of people soldier on, squeezing in to cook dinner every night and pack their kids’ lunches.
But with a few simple tricks, you can make your kitchen feel larger, even if you don’t have a pantry or much space to work with. Start by streamlining your kitchen storage, and check out these tiny kitchen ideas for creating more elbow room and the illusion of wide open space.
Create Clear Sightlines
Do you really need your standing mixer, rice cooker and blender on the counter at all times? And that pile of junk mail, permission slips and middle school math sheets really needs to go. Clutter makes any room feel small—and clear sightlines are paramount in a tiny kitchen. The fix here is to keep large appliances out of sight until you’re ready to use them. If you don’t have space for them in your kitchen cabinets, stash them in a hall closet or in a shelving unit in a room near the kitchen. As for your piles of paper, tuck them away in a pretty basket or filing system. Moves like these will leave your countertop space free to display the few items you do use daily, like your coffee maker.
Choose Light Colors
If you’re considering painting the kitchen walls or rehabbing your cabinets, lean hard on the white family and other pale shades. These hues promote a feeling of openness by smoothing away edges and creating visual calm. But if you can’t stand the harsh sterility of an all-white kitchen, work a few pops of color into the space, like bright red spatulas.
Maximize Your Shelf Space
Open shelving is a trend that’s here to stay, but that doesn’t mean you can toss your dishes and canned goods up there and be done with it. Instead, take a few minutes to organize your shelves by stacking like with like (bowls, plates), and use a turntable to keep pantry items (vinegars, sauces, dressings, etc.) tidy and easy to reach on a crowded shelf. Consider decanting some packaged goods into clear containers. Storing items in modular containers makes for easier, more efficient stacking. Plus, easy-to-seal containers keep the contents fresh longer.
One big print or photograph works better than a wall gallery of several pieces when it comes to decorating in a tiny kitchen. A larger piece of art draws the eye to one spot, while multiple frames break up a wall, making it feel busy and cramped. Just be sure whatever you choose can be wiped clean and is sturdy enough for this high traffic room.
Leave Windows Bare
A bright room is inviting—and it feels bigger too. The best way to achieve this sense of space is to leave your kitchen windows unadorned, to create a feeling of openness and allow maximum natural light to shine in. But if you’re a fan of curtains, a small valance or roller shade at the top of your window is fine too.
Take Advantage of Vertical Space
Don’t let the area at the top of your cabinets become a catch-all for unused appliances and dusty baskets. That space is just begging for some organization and a little design love. For example, if you collect platters, this is an ideal spot to neatly show off your treasure trove on individual stands. Or try a large set of containers in a row as a pretty display. Once this spot is shipshape, your kitchen space will seem taller and more open.
Hang Up Utensils and Pans
A wall-mounted rack for knives, tongs and spatulas can quickly free up counter space, which can make your kitchen appear larger. And a specialized wall or ceiling rack to hold frying pans and pots is another smart way to get your kitchen supplies out of the way (and a neat arrangement of gear can stand in as a décor element too).
Try an Island on Wheels
Owning a kitchen island, even in a tiny cooking space, is a plus for those who love to prep and entertain. At the same time, said island can take up a large part of your real estate, leaving you feeling squeezed. The solution? A smaller island on wheels that can roll away when you’re done chopping and give you more elbow room whenever you want it.
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