Written by Hugh Metcalf

Small kitchen ideas for maximising your home’s potential

If you’re short on space to create your dream kitchen, these planning and design tips to ensure will help you get the most from a small floor plan.

optiplan narrow kitchen with built in seating and table - goodhomesmagazine.com

Image: Optiplan Kitchens

Large, open-plan kitchens may be en vogue right now, but they’re not a possibility for every home owner.

However, no matter how small your kitchen space is, there’s still a way to create a style you love and maximise functionality. Try these top tips and get inspiration for how to get the most out of your compact kitchen.

How to create a social space in a small kitchen

wren small kitchen space - goodhomesmagazine.com

Image: Wren Kitchens

Hulking islands are the big trend right now to turn the kitchen into the hub of the home. If you don’t have room for one, you can still achieve a social space if you’re clever with your floorplan.

A U-shape kitchen like the one above really limits the cook interacting with other people, as you’ve almost always got your back to them. However, the introduction of a small peninsula offers a place for family and friends to perch and also a great serving space for those ‘help-yourself’ dinners.

This idea from B&Q is particularly clever as it has a slightly lowered height on the peninsula, still zoning off the kitchen, but ensuring the space doesn’t feel too enclosed.

Use visual tricks 

small kitchen with peninsula and upper cupboards - goodhomesmagazine.com

Image: Benjamin Moore

When you’re trying to make your space feel bigger, using optical illusions can be useful. For example, wall-mounted cabinetry is in your eyeline, so can make a kitchen feel more cramped, but removing it would take away too much valuable storage. By painting the top cupboards a light colour, as in this scheme from Magnet, will help to lighten the look of them. As an alternative, you could use dark cupboards on the wall, but paint the wall behind in a similar shade, helping them to fade into the background.

Make the most of every inch

Oxford slate kitchen from Benchmarx Kitchens with ceiling height cabinets

Image: Oxford slate grey kitchen, Benchmarx Kitchens 

In a small kitchen, every last bit of storage counts. Often, kitchen designers leave a gap above wall units, which can help a room feel more spacious as you can still see the full depth of the room. However, if you’re going to end up with pots, plates and potatoes spilling out of every cupboard, it’s a worthwhile trade off.

Read more: 5 modern shelving ideas for style and storage

To get the best of both worlds, you could choose to have the very top cabinets with glass inset into the front, providing proper storage but also highlighting the true dimensions of the room.

Scale down grand plans

second nature slab rose kitchen with mini kitchen island - goodhomesmagazine.com

Image: Second Nature Collection 

If you’ve seen a feature you really love for your kitchen, ask yourself if it would work on a smaller scale. This kitchen island in a Second Nature kitchen, for example, is on the small side, but still offers a sociable seat courtesy of a miniature work surface overhang, as well as bringing extra storage and work surface space into the equation.

Read more: 5 things to consider when choosing a kitchen island

Seating ideas for small kitchens

optiplan narrow kitchen with built in seating and table - goodhomesmagazine.com

Image: Optiplan Kitchens

When it comes to kitchens with small floor plans, a dining table will offer the most value when seating for the whole family is required.

‘Dining tables often sit at least six people, and take up less space within the kitchen,’ explains Andy Briggs, interior designer at Optiplan. ‘Some of course also extend to seat even more when the occasion demands it.’

Read more: 6 ideas for built-in kitchen seating

With this in mind, consider how you can help your dining table go the extra mile when it comes to getting bums on seats. Benches offer versatile seating, which works particularly well for children – perfect for when a school friend drops by for dinner. Banquette or built-in seating is also a good option for small kitchens, as this will reduce the amount of space you need around a table on the wall side, where you’d usually need room to pull out and push in chairs. Offering a much more functional use of the room, it can help make your walkways larger, improving the flow through your kitchen.

Get smart with appliances

gloss white kitchen with u shape peninsula - goodhomesmagazine.com

Image: Alisma high gloss kitchen, B&Q

The right appliances can transform the functionality of your kitchen. To keep a clear worktop in your small kitchen, for example, a hot water tap could replace a kettle, while a combination oven/microwave saves on an extra bulky appliance. If you find that you’re tripping over yourself while cooking in your kitchen, consider ovens mounted in a tower, so that you don’t have to bend down to check on your food. Innovations such as Neff’s Slide & Hide oven doors – the ones famously featured in the Great British Bake Off tent – will also help make your compact kitchen easier to use.

Have you mastered the art of small kitchen design? Tweet us @goodhomesmag or post a comment on our Facebook page. Or, tag us in your own kitchen photos on Instagram, using the hashtag #ThisGoodHome.

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