How to design a small kitchen

Sunita Vellapally Sunita Vellapally
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In small apartments and houses, often the kitchen is so tiny that you barely have space to move around. How do you fit everything that you need into the limited area? Obviously, with space being scarce, the kitchen cannot double up as the eating area or the place to do your laundry. Additionally, it’s vital to make use of every available inch optimally but without compromising on functionality.

Today, we present tips on how to design a small kitchen so that it’s a pleasure to work in. Whether you have a tiny apartment in urban areas such as New Delhi and Chennai or a small vacation home in a smaller city such as Kochi or Goa, these ideas will help you get started with designing the kitchen better.

What’s the most significant factor to consider for a small kitchen?

The primary function of any kitchen is to prepare meals. In a small one, there might not be sufficient counter space for the kids to do their homework or even for an eat-in snack counter. Therefore, it’s important to make use of the space to improve the work flow. This can be done by choosing smaller or slimmer appliances that don't occupy too much space. For example, instead of a side-by-side refrigerator, you can opt for a taller model with a freezer drawer. Similarly, you can scale down the size of the stove to a two-burner option and choose a single sink instead of a double-bowled one. If you are short of counter space, consider a roll-out island that can be pushed away when it’s not in use to keep the kitchen looking less cramped.

You can consult a kitchen planner to get custom furniture that optimizes space utilization.

What type of kitchen furniture can make a small kitchen seem airier?

Cabinets are the first option that comes to mind for designing storage in a kitchen. However, in a tiny area, it can make the area seem boxed in and claustrophobic. Instead, consider installing open shelves or cabinets with glass doors for storing your spice bottles. Install a rail with hooks on which pots and pans can be hung. This will not only bring a nice open feel to the kitchen but also make it look cosier. If you have stools or chairs in the kitchen, opt for designs that are stackable or foldable so that they can be stowed away so they won’t hinder movement in the space. Choose chairs with slim legs. If you need extra workspace, a sliding counter that retracts under the counter top is a clever idea. Similarly, slide-out drawers and racks can enhance the openness in the kitchen.

Get ideas on how to organize the storage in your small kitchen.

Why you should use reflecting surfaces?

It’s a well-known fact that mirrors and other reflecting surfaces amplify the amount of light in an area to make it appear larger. In a small kitchen, one way to achieve this is by using the right type of materials. Choosing glossy finishes on the cabinet doors and countertops can help to make the area look bigger. Appliances with a stainless-steel finish are another great option for small spaces. Glass tiles or mirror finishes in the backsplash can reflect the surrounding area to create the impression of an extended room.

How to incorporate a small kitchen into an open-plan social space

In modern apartments and homes, it’s not uncommon to have the living room, dining room and kitchen in an open-plan layout. While this helps to save space, in a smaller design, it comes with the challenge of keeping the odours out of the living area. Using a glass wall or a sliding glass door to partition the spaces can help to solve this issue easily. Designing the kitchen to optimise the view to the outdoors is another trick that can be employed to make the area look much larger than it is.

How can you use lighting to create a sense of expansiveness in the kitchen?

As we mentioned earlier, light has a vital role to play in making a room appear bigger. Like any other space, a small kitchen should have a mix of natural and artificial illumination. In addition to task lighting that helps to brighten up the workspaces, decorative lighting can be used to add drama or depth to the space. You can install lighting under the upper cabinets or even under the rim of the counters to add an interesting feature to the kitchen. Hanging pendant lights over the counter is another option to add elegance and warmth to a small kitchen.

What type of flooring is ideal for a small kitchen?

Eye-catching flooring not only adds style to a tiny kitchen but also helps to create a sense of spaciousness. Checkerboard tiles laid diagonally can visually contrast the straight lines of the kitchen counters and cabinets to make the area look larger. Alternatively, you can use marble or large-format tiles in a light shade and glossy finish to reflect light and increase the amplitude of the space.

What colour should you paint the kitchen cabinets?

In general, light or pastel shades are a better option for a small space as a darker colour can make the walls appear to close in. However, you can use dark or bold shades to create a contrast that helps to add depth to the space. If you choose open shelves instead of cabinets, painting the background wall in a bright shade can bring a cheerful ambiance to a small and dull kitchen. Similarly, if you have white or other light shades on the cabinet, using a dark shade on the backsplash can add depth to the space.

Get inspired by these 14 amazing kitchen cabinet ideas.

Should you use bold colours in a small kitchen?

Using a bold colour in the entire kitchen might not be a great idea when the space is small. However, a splash of brightness or contrast can enhance the look of the space. If your kitchen uses light tones on the walls, you can get an appliance in a bold colour or use darker shades on smaller items such as dish towels. When using cabinets with a metallic finish, you can choose a bold shade as the surface will reflect the light and the surrounding space to make the tiny area look much bigger.

How can you add personality to a small kitchen?

If you want to try something different, instead of using visual trickery to make the space seem larger, you can embrace the smallness of the room by opting for a cosier design style such as rustic or country that focuses on the cosiness of the space. Alternatively, if those styles don’t match the décor in the rest of the house, especially if you have an open-plan layout, you can go with the minimalist look with its sophisticated straight lines and neutral tones. Contrast it with a few sleek accessories in steel or gold to create a small kitchen that looks like it belongs in a magazine. Alternatively, you can even choose a rich and dark colour such as black or navy blue that contrasts the light shades in the other rooms in the open-plan room.

Designing a small kitchen for an Indian home doesn’t have to be expensive. You can easily get a sleek and modern modular kitchen at a starting price of INR 1 lakh. Depending upon the materials you use as well as the quality of the appliances, the prices can vary significantly. Hire an interior designer to simplify the process of creating a perfect small kitchen.

Which of these ideas will you use for your small kitchen? Leave a comment to tell us.

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