Seattle condo with galley kitchen featuring passthrough serving area
Above: Seattle condo with galley kitchen featuring passthrough serving area.


Small Kitchen Remodeling Ideas

Everyone loves the “Ooh and Ahh” factor of a large, opulent kitchen. But let’s face it, most of us can’t afford to blow out an exterior wall to accommodate a massive space. So when it comes to small kitchen design there are some tricks to make a tiny space live large.

“I like working on small kitchen design most of all,” says Neil Kelly Design Consultant Karen Richmond.  “I always tell my clients that a space doesn’t need to be large to function well,” she says.

Living Large in a Small Kitchen

The space should be as flexible as possible. Since you don’t have the luxury of multiple ‘zones’, the space should be designed to adapt — for prep, cooking, cleaning, and entertaining — as much as possible.

Long Table in a small Kitchen designA good example of flexibility of a small kitchen design is using a long table that doubles as an island. At left, the table is used for cooking preparation, then it’s re-purposed (after a thorough cleaning!) as a dining table. Other examples include benches with built in storage, pull-out cutting boards, etc.

The need for creative problem solving is heightened in small kitchen design, but so is the opportunity for some really clever space-saving ideas.  For instance, in the kitchen at right, the clients were avid bakers. While most folks may not want a pop-out mixer that intrudes on an entryway, these clients really did want a mixer-free zone on the countertops.


The small kitchen design must be flexible AND mobile. “It’s often beneficial to have a mobile surface like a prep table on casters or a table that folds out from the wall,” Richmond says.

Focus On Color

The use of color in a small kitchen design

Swedish design firm, Bemz, specializes in small kitchen design, and suggests that the proper use of color and focal points create the illusion of greater space. “A good idea is to keep the overall color scheme toward the milder spectrum with accents of color,” says Bemz Marketing Project Manager, Sara Herring. “A softer color scheme is easier on the eye and can trick the brain into thinking that this is a calm space.” She adds: “Using all of the same color creates a bland look, so I recommend spicing it up by providing bright colors as a focal point.”

Small Kitchen Design: See The Light

Lighting design in a small kitchen

Natural light in a space also helps make it feel larger. As far as artificial light, Herring says to mix different types and avoid having just one big light hanging from the ceiling in a kitchen. Spotlights under cabinets provide light to the countertops and eliminate dark corners. Accent lighting can be used to illuminate darker niches.




More Small Space Design Ideas

Appliances set into the wall underneath an adjacent staircase

Above: In this small kitchen project, the design team found extra space by setting appliances into the wall underneath an adjacent staircase.

Mobile countertop that can also function as an improvised dining table

Above: This galley kitchen features a mobile countertop that can also function as an improvised dining table.

Countertop extension provides a tiny breakfast bar

Above: A simple countertop extension provides a tiny breakfast bar where the kitchen would normally end.

Storage in every part of the kitchen

Above: In small spaces, storage is critical, and this project is a master class in packing storage into every part of a kitchen.


Above: A banquette provides extra seating, extra storage, and makes a modest kitchen seem much larger. This kitchen also has lots of natural light coming from the window and ceiling, which enhances the sense of a larger space.

A pop out countertop creates a tiny prep area in front of the microwave

Above: In this kitchen, a pop out countertop creates a tiny prep area in front of the microwave.

Floating shelves

Above: Floating shelves create storage opportunities in challenging locations.

Neil Kelly can help you create the kitchen you’ve been dreaming of — large or small. Connect with one of our design consultants to get started.