10 Space-smart Solutions for a Small Kitchen
Don’t let a cramped kitchen get you down. Here, design experts share 10 ways you can make the most of compact quarters
“Hiding appliances by integrating them into your cabinetry is one of the easiest and most effective ways to make a small kitchen appear bigger,” says Chris Ruffé, director at Bondi Kitchens. “Most brands now offer fridges, freezers and dishwashers that can be integrated, and we simply conceal them behind kitchen panels, so they blend in seamlessly with the cabinetry.”
Integrating appliances can also help to save you space, as the cavities can be custom designed for a perfect fit. “This frees up kitchen space, which you can then use for additional storage,” Chris says.
“Sticking with one finish for all your cabinetry faces creates a clean, cohesive look and makes a small kitchen appear larger. It also gives a touch of elegance to the space, however small it might be,” Chris says.
Just like any room in a home, the kitchen needs a hero piece – that one thing that instantly draws the eye, Chris says.
“Introducing one bold, statement feature, such as a fabulous stone worktop, can add personality to a small kitchen and give it gravitas,” he says. “It can also add an element of surprise, as you might not expect to see such a beautiful, sumptuous material in a small space.”
Don’t underestimate the power of a well-considered lighting scheme. “Good lighting can make all the difference, particularly in a cramped kitchen,” Chris says. “Flooding the splashback with diffused light is a great trick to employ, as it visually broadens it, making the kitchen appear bigger than it actually is. Plus, it adds a touch of warmth and cosiness to a kitchen-diner in the evening.”
Tempted to revamp your space? Find kitchen designers in your area and see images of their past projects.
“In large kitchens, designers tend to avoid using corner cabinets, as it’s more functional to close them off and have drawer banks on either side. However, in small kitchens, we don’t have the luxury of space and have to make practical use of whatever we can get,” says Graeme Metcalf, industrial designer at Dan Kitchens.
“Corner cabinets are full of space – it’s just annoying to reach into them,” he says. “Storage manufacturers have taken note and come up with a variety of solutions that give you better access. My favourite is the Le Mans unit [where curvy shelves twist out of the cabinet towards you], but you’ll also find shelving carousels and magic corners [which have shelves that extend towards you].”
While not as space-efficient as shelves in a standard cabinet, they do mean a good proportion of this otherwise dead space can be used.
“Large-scale features and bold patterns can overwhelm a small kitchen and make you feel confined,” Graeme says. “To create a more comfortable space, minimise the number of different colours and textures, specify small-size tiles for splashbacks and flooring, and select muted tones and textures.”
“We always try to incorporate a full-height, minimum 60cm-wide pantry cabinet into a small kitchen,” Graeme says. “There are several ways to fit them out.
“You could stick to fixed or adjustable shelves, but these make it hard to access the items at the back,” he says. “A pull-out pantry gives you access to the items at the back, but they’re heavy to move, and can be overloaded and block traffic through to other parts of the kitchen.
“We find the most efficient solution is to use internal drawers instead of shelves,” he says. “They suffer from few drawbacks other than the extra cost.”
Appliances that are too big can overwhelm and clutter up a small kitchen, says Colin Jones, product adviser at Appliances Online. “It’s hugely important to choose the right-size appliances, as standard ones may take up too much valuable space,” he says.
“The most important thing is to take detailed measurements of your kitchen’s cavity spaces and worktops. This is so you can work out what you can comfortably fit into the kitchen without overcrowding the food preparation and storage areas, as well as allowing you space to move around when appliance doors are open.”
“Seek out compact appliances such as fridges, dishwashers and ovens,” Colin advises. “Ensure they’re all finished in the same colour, or have them integrated into cabinetry for a fuss-free, cohesive look.”
Some compact appliances that you might like to consider for your small kitchen include:
- Compact ovens that are full width but only around 45cm in height. Brands are also producing ovens with microwave capabilities, saving you even more space.
- Two-burner hobs, which are available in induction, touch control, ceramic and gas.
- Under-worktop extractor fans save space if you have wall cupboards. Or if you have space above, a 60cm cooker hood works well.
- Compact dishwashers, such as the Fisher & Paykel single-drawer dish drawer, or a slimline 45cm dishwasher.
- Single-bowl sinks that give you space on either side of the sink for food prep.
- Slimline, compact fridges. You can now find slimline designs in top- and bottom-mount configurations.
When space is at a premium, multi-functional appliances – a single machine that performs the roles of several – is a smart solution. “Being able to cook a variety of dishes using one appliance is incredibly handy, saving you both time and space,” says Martin Kim, home appliances expert at LG Australia.
Have these suggestions been helpful? Do you have any other tips for a small kitchen? Share your thoughts in the Comments.