Modern Design Blog

Small kitchen design

Small kitchen design: Optimize your space - Part 2

Creating an efficient and beautiful small kitchen design is often a tall order that requires satisfying both core needs and whims while dealing with several restrictions. However, there are some fundamental principles that, when applied, can help turn your small kitchen design into a thoroughly enjoyable and livable masterpiece

Part 1 of this post covered small kitchen design best practices in terms of layout, floor space use, and work surfaces. We now look at useful tips for storage, appliances, and the overall look and feel of the kitchen.


Sometimes the space you are working with for your small kitchen design doesn’t allow you to make radical layout changes. It’s ok; all is not lost. There are still ways to make your kitchen storage more efficient.

  • Include either a deep OR shallow pantry integrated into an existing wall (what you choose depends on what you have to store).
  • Add columns with full pull-out shelves to fill narrow gaps in the wall units.
  • Use window sills, walls, and backsplash sections as dedicated storage areas with the aid of practical accessories.

Small kitchen storage

  • If you don’t mind the possible visual excess, extend the wall cabinets to the ceiling. If very tall cabinets bother you, then use deeper base cabinets. This is a popular European trend that allows you to get more storage space in small kitchen designs where you have limited width to work with. The deeper base cabinets come with practical full pull-out baskets, don’t hinder your floor space too much and help you avoid overcrowding your line of sight with too many upper cabinets (which can make the room feel even smaller than it is).
  • Turn narrow, deep cabinets into wide, shallow ones by changing the door opening from the front to the side (in the case of units placed at the end of a cabinet run).
  • Keep in mind that frameless cabinets can help you gain a few precious inches of storage space compared to framed cabinets.
  • Use lazy-susans and full pull-out shelves for corner cabinets.

Corner storage for small kitchens

  • Knock out a wall to join the kitchen with the living room area and extend the footprint of your kitchen, so that you can place an additional storage unit (or bar/wine cooler system) somewhere in-between the two areas.
  • Take the opportunity to get rid of unnecessary clutter!!


A lot of people think they will have to compromise on appliances to be able to fit everything into their small kitchen design. Well, it isn’t so as long as you understand two things:

  1. smaller doesn’t necessarily mean less functional, and
  2. placement is key!

Here are our essential guidelines:

  • Replace full-sized appliances with high-quality, smaller ones that get the job done without taking up excessive space.
  • Forget the idea of single-purpose appliances and embrace combination appliances, like microwave/oven or microwave/hood (note: for the latter option, consider the height of the primary kitchen user).
  • Use induction cooktops instead of electrical gas because they can easily double as counter space when not in use.

Induction cooktops

  • Consider hidden ventilation systems and downdraft ventilation systems that are less obtrusive than a “regular” hood.
  • If you have one or more appliances that you don’t use very often, place them away from the functional center of the kitchen (yet still close enough to be practical).
  • Separate refrigerator and freezer.
  • Be very careful with the placement of your refrigerator. It is likely the biggest unit of the kitchen (and a crucial one), so it can take up a lot of space. Refrigerators that are integrated into wall units are always more functional because they can make the kitchen appear less cluttered.


There are a few aesthetic elements that can give your small kitchen design the illusion of space.

  • As mentioned in Part 1 of this post, avoid U-shape layouts that fully cover three walls with cabinetry and appliances. A U-shape layout can work better only if the central wall has a window that provides some visual relief while allowing you to place base cabinets, countertop area and sink along that side.
  • Use a light color palette throughout the kitchen. White lacquer or light wood are the best options, which you can mix with some frosted or clear glass cabinet doors.

Lighter aesthetic for small kitchen design

  • Don’t fill your walls with upper cabinets that reach up to the ceiling. This is especially useful if you use a darker color palette. Replace some of the upper cabinets with some open shelving systems or deeper base cabinets that free up your line of sight.
  • Use large tiles for floors and backsplash: compared to small tiles, they will make the space feel bigger.
  • Create a design that enhances horizontal as opposed to vertical lines. Vertical lines are “heavier” looking and make for an overall less streamlined feel.
  • If you can’t remove an entire wall to open up the space to the living area, consider carving out a “window” opening in the wall. You can fit a breakfast bar in it and create a relationship between the two rooms. The cook won’t feel isolated and you’ll have a layout that is conducive to socialization and entertaining.

Designing a small kitchen

  • Don’t forget proper lighting. Natural light from a window is always the best solution but, even if you don’t have that luxury, you can have a brightly lit small kitchen design thanks to the right combination of task and ambiance lighting. The lighter the room, the bigger it’s going to feel.

Have you tried any of these tricks in your small kitchen design? Do you have more to suggest?