Are you fed up with your tiny /cluttered kitchen area? Here are some small kitchen design ideas to encourage more space and add style to your home.
Renovating or remodeling a kitchen, no matter the size, can easily add up to big bucks; especially if you’re swimming blindly or just following the wave of trending ideas.
We don’t want you to be faced with any unnecessary expenses.
That’s why I’ve rounded up this list of budget-friendly small kitchen design ideas that you can adapt and be rest assured that it won’t leave a dent in your pockets to do so.
Of course, there are certain features that may be easier and relatively inexpensive to change than some, like your flooring (not tiles though) or floor stains (for hardwood flooring), light fixtures, paint, kitchen hardware (for cabinets and faucets), window treatments, accents, rugs/mats, and other little things.
We will be focusing on those in this post.
Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links which simply means that if you buy through any of those links, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases (at no added cost to you). See my disclosure at the bottom of the page or read it, in full, here.
#1: Use Open-concept To Allow More Space
For many people, their kitchen is the hub of their home.
It’s where all the magic happens; where everyone gathers to talk, laugh, do homework (around the kitchen counter), and of course settle to eat delicious meals (breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner).
That is why many gravitate to open-concept kitchens, as they feel it’s more spacious and convenient for when they entertain or have gatherings. And with many open-concept floor plans being a living room-dining room-kitchen combo, they often are.
Space is especially crucial and equal-strength a hassle for owners of homes or apartments with small kitchen areas. If you are unfortunate enough to have a kitchenette or a micro-kitchen, the burden becomes even harder to bear.
I know from experience.
The small kitchen (measuring about 7ft x 7ft) at my mom’s house (where the hubs and I currently live; until we’re through with our build) can barely hold two people at the same time.
And if those two unfortunate people turn out to be me (at over 5’10”) and hubby (at a whopping 6 ft 4inches) then you can only imagine the detailed planning that has to go into me just attempting to pull something from the fridge while he’s cooking up a storm at the stove (they are adjacent, by the way).
So, I get your frustration. And that is one major factor that led me to plan for an open-concept design for my own kitchen when I reach that stage.
Some people absolutely hate the idea of open-concepts, but I absolutely love it. Anything that can grant me more space, is a win in my book.
An open-concept kitchen will seamlessly integrate with the rest of your house, so as long as you can keep the space tidy and you don’t mind the lack of privacy (no doors you can shut), then you may find this a good solution to your “limited space” problem.
The openness of an open floor plan gives an instant illusion of a larger space, and all you need to do is knock out a wall.
Now you can stay tuned to your favorite show playing in the living room while making a snack, or running to the fridge for a drink, or keep an eye on your tiny tot playing in the living room while you’re preparing dinner. You’ll also have more space for when your friends or fam come over for movie night.
What’s so cool about this idea is how much it saves you the hassle of having to stress over color coordination between rooms.
With an open concept plan, you can simply use the same paint color and flooring throughout (and just add accents and furnishing to add zest).
Saves time and money? Win-win
Of course, you can always use colors that blend well for each space if you’d like. That works too. It’s up to you what you decide to do.
PRO TIP#1: Too many different colors can make your kitchen look smaller than it already is (a clutter of colors can also be distracting to the eyes). So it is recommended that you try as best to stick with one color scheme or go with colors within the same color palette.
PRO TIP#2: While we’d all love to have an open-concept floor plan, I’d advise you to think long and hard about this (and thread carefully) as you may be required to get a certificate of occupancy/permits, plus hire an architect.
If this is too complicated for you or is simply out of your budget, you can find some easier, less expensive options below.
#2: Go Light, Bright & Airy With Paint
If we love to follow a good trend, we may be tempted to cloak our walls in dark, moody colors; the “in” look.
But, by doing that, you may be doing your space (or the lack thereof) an injustice.
As I’ve mentioned in almost all of my posts that deal with using paint colors to send a certain signal, you can see where I generally advise against this practice and for good reasons.
Darker colors tend to shrink (for want of a better word) your space. And if your space is tiny as is, you wouldn’t want that to happen.
Unless you have a flood of natural light coming into your kitchen, you’d want to stick with light, bright, and airy color pallets.
White (in all tonal ranges, such as Simply white, Egg white/Eggshell, Pure White, and so on), for example, is usually a top pick.
While finding the right shade of white can be a tricky task, you can generally do justice with a shade that has no undertone of blues, pink, or yellow, like Pure White paint from Sherwin Williams, for instance.
Many interior designers and common homeowners (including me) swear by Sherwin Williams paint, so you can bet you’ll find a paint color, that you can love, available there.
Benjamin Moore Simply White is another great pick.
It’s a warm white that looks both crisp and cozy (due to its slightly warm undertone) at the same time.
I don’t think you can go wrong with this shade of white as it goes well with almost any color scheme.
Other neutrals such as gray, beige, greige (yes, a mixture of gray and beige), pale yellow also work well (depending).
Light blues are good, too.
Darker shades of blue, like navy (a popular one), are good for larger kitchens, but for a tiny space, they can make it seem even tinier and closed-in; especially when used on the walls.
PRO TIP: Before painting, make sure to assess how each color affects your mood and emotions (or your family’s).
If you have your eyes set on resale, you may or may not know that there are certain paint colors that can increase your resale value tremendously, or decrease it.
If you’re renovating your home for sale, or you think you’ll likely sell it within a few years, I’d highly recommend that you go with a flat paint or anything low sheen.
Flat paint is super popular and also gives your walls a stylish finish. Because it has no sheen, it tends to do a better job at covering your walls and concealing any imperfections; giving it a fresh new look.
As a rule of thumb, don’t choose colors that are too dark (brown or black, anyone?), too loud/bright (bright yellow, bright green, red), glossy (semi and high gloss…eggshell for example), too warm (orange, yellow, red, beige, and any other paint with a lot of warm undertones), or too white (some people say Pure White paint reminds them of a sterile hospital—I don’t know how I feel about that).
If you’re going to go white, it’s better (and safer) to choose a cool-toned white. Alabaster by Sherwin Williams is a good pick, or Dove White, or Simply White by Benjamin Moore.
Cool grays are also a win.
I know there’s a lot of controversy surrounding the use of grays in people’s homes, but just know this: many people love this color (despite what all the naysayers have to say) and many of those people are looking to buy homes.
You should be mindful that gray doesn’t work well in every single space though, so just like white, you need to find the right shade for your kitchen.
And just like how you have dozens of variations of white, you have the same for gray, too (some with beige undertones, blue, taupe-green undertones et cetera).
Greiges are good too.
In fact, one of Benjamin Moore’s best-selling paint happens to be their Revere Pewter which is a combination of gray and beige (greige).
Its warm undertone makes it inviting and a good complement to almost any decorating style.
Agreeable Gray and Repose Gray are also highly recommended.
Be conscious of what people are loving or hating in the market, nowadays.
Again, that’s only if you’re planning to sell your home.
If not, then I’d say go with what you like and will feel comfortable living in for years to come.
If you’re still at a loss as to what paint color is best to use, you can easily flip through some magazines, or scroll through Pinterest for some ideas.
You can even test a variety of paint samples in your own home in its natural lighting to see what could potentially work.
You can get a paint shade fan deck like this Sherwin Williams color fan deck or this Benjamin Moore color fan deck (depending on the brand you use) to help you test a wide array of color schemes without running to the store each time for new samples.
#3: Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets
Photo Credit: Jenshomejournal
Painting your cabinets may be one of the easiest ways to update the look of your kitchen without venturing into full-on reno mode.
While I personally love the look of rich wood tones, many people don’t. So, if you are one of those people, you should consider painting your cabinets in a color that you’ll love.
Here are just a few of the really cool cabinet color ideas I’ve seen and loved:
- White —white is a classic and seems to be the first color to be recommended off the bat. Again, Dove White, Simply White, and Pure White are good white shades for kitchen cabinets.
- A really cool white kitchen with bold Turquoise cabinets (for the lovers of vibrant color schemes)
- Simple sophisticated gray (for a more neutral, pristine treatment that gives off the same light, clean, fresh effect as white)
- Cool blues & navy.
- Cherry wood lower cabinets paired with medium gray painted top cabinets (to give a warm, layered feel).
And don’t think you have to stick with one (sometimes boring; depending on the color) monochromatic color palette, either!
Two-toned cabinets are all the rave, right now.
So think about mixing and matching colors for lower and upper painted kitchen cabinets.
Blue and white generally go well together. S
o do gray and blue.
Plus, you already know the classic black, grays, and whites.
Note though that if you’re going to use gray for your cabinets, I’d advise against using it for your kitchen islands and walls, as well; simply because too much gray can make anything seem cold and bland.
PRO TIP: If you aren’t quite ready to embrace the two-toned cabinet look, that’s OK. You can always update your kitchen cabinets in one color then make your kitchen island the focal point by experimenting with another color there!
Avoid using Chalk paint! I’ve heard that these are a disaster waiting to happen and don’t usually last very long either (not with the wear and tear of everyday use, or with the chemicals in the products used to clean them).
I know that may not be what you wanted to hear, but it’s sound advice.
If you can manage to make chalk paint look plausible, good for you. Else, I’d encourage you not to waste your time.
Many DIYers who repainted their cabinets with chalk paint may show you how pretty the finished product looks right after it’s done, but do they say how well it holds up for a year or 2? Or even 6 months down the line?
If you want a light, bright painted cabinet, I’d say go with white paint (with a satin finish).
You can’t go wrong.
If you went ahead and bought that bucket of chalk paint already, use it on your FURNITURE instead. It’s great for that.
Psst, before you move on to #4, here are some of the best products for painting your kitchen cabinets as any professional would:
Paintbrush: This is a no-brainer. For painting a cabinet, you must make sure you get the right-sized brush with the right type of bristles.
I recommend this Corona Chinex 2.5 inch bristle brush.
All professional painters use it.
When you use a sprayer, you basically reduce drying time (the lacquer paint dries super fast) and the quality finish you get is higher and much more resilient against cleaning products and chemicals.
But it is easily the most expensive of these tools.
If you can manage to invest in a sprayer, though, here’s a really good one that you can buy on Amazon right now.
Primer: Yes, you’ll need it, if you want the paint to properly penetrate and adhere to your cabinets; especially for certain grade wood.
Don’t fall for the claims that you won’t need a primer if you buy the 2-in-1 type of paint from those “big box” stores.
They are not true.
You’ll need a primer that is oil-based too, like this really good one that you can get from Amazon as well.
Don’t skimp here.
Your finished product is just as good as the base.
Hand sander: Sanding is a must! And an orbital sander like this one from DeWalt will make your life MUCH easier.
Dropcloth: Paint is the easiest to spill and the most annoying to clean up. Here’s a link to one of Amazon’s best-sellers for your convenience.
Not a fan of painted cabinets? Try staining yours, instead.
#4: Get With The Program And Update Those Floors
As the years progress, more and more people are moving away from orange, yellow, and reddish floors and towards gray floor, floors that have been whitewashed, or solid wood flooring painted or stained in dark brown colors like dark walnut, espresso, or ebony, for example.
For those with tiled floors, if your old tiles have started to chip, crack, or lift, it’s time to peel them up (or pay someone to do it for you) and replace them with new ones.
You can either replace all of them at once (which might be super expensive to do), or just the ones most affected (and replace them with the same single tiles).
Bear in mind the layout of your flooring as well.
If you’re trying to make your space appear bigger or more spacious, consider using larger tiles (12″ x 12″, or 13″ x 13″) or wider wood planks (3 1/4″, 4″, or 5″ instead of the usual 2 1/4″ stips).
Here’s a cool trick I picked up: if you have a square kitchen (or even a squarish one) try laying your flooring (tiles or hardwood) diagonally.
It is said to make your space look really bigger while staying true to the edgy contemporary appeal.
Whatever flooring choice you make, just make sure it fits your budget and matches well with your decorating style. I’d also encourage you to install your floors first then choose a paint color and decor that matches.
#5: Kitchen Area Rugs Are Important, Too!
While you may want both rooms (Kitchen and dining room/ kitchen and living room—for open-concept plans) to be cohesive in layout, design, and color, you may want to define both spaces as separate units…and a great way to do that is with a rug.
Get something that is modern and bold but also classic—as you wouldn’t want to have to change out your rug on a regular basis.
There are so many styles, brands, and color rugs to choose from; choose wisely.
#6: If You Have A Kitchen Door Paint It
If your kitchen is closed-concept with a door, it may help to bring it off with a little paint.
This may be harder to do than it sounds (not all of us are good with a brush), but as long as you follow the correct techniques and use the appropriate tools, you should manage.
If you can’t do it yourself, don’t have someone around you who can do it for you, or don’t want to, you can find a painter who’ll charge a small penny to do the job and do it well.
Remember to paint those trims, as well!
If your door leads outside, you can swap them out for glass doors or glass sliding doors.
This is great for channeling natural light inside which will make your space lighter, brighter, and look larger.
Plus, glass doors are so appealing to the eyes. Concerned about privacy? Use these marble blinds for some privacy with a hint of style.
Don’t have a door? Widen those windows!
#7: Don’t Shy Away From Using Wallpaper
Wallpaper can work as a quirky and fun alternative to traditional painted walls or tiled backsplashes.
While wallpapers may seem outdated to some and are certainly a pain to remove, with the technologically advanced era we’re living in, there are so many designs that are coming back in style and are much easier to maneuver, like the peel and stick wallpapers, for instance.
Some people even use wall decals, while others use entire sheets. The choice is yours. You have so many options to choose from.
#8: Update Your Kitchen Appliances and Hardware
I am a firm believer in adding light fixtures to change the style and flow of a room; especially a kitchen.
The same goes for appliances.
Stainless steel appliances are timeless (In my opinion) but sophisticated shades of black and slate are increasing in popularity.
Ditch heavy metals for something fun like nickel or brushed nickel for your cabinet knobs and cabinet pulls, and cool brass or matte black (like this Pfister Arkitek Kitchen faucet) or matte white for your faucets to add more character and personality to your space.
Build wall ovens, fridges, and microwaves into the cabinetry for a more streamlined appeal and a cohesive look.
For your smaller kitchen space, you can even swap out bulkier appliances for smaller, neater, more versatile ones that take up less ground space.
Here are some other updates you can incorporate:
Appliances in gold and copper finishes
It may be surprising how many don’t do this. If you’re one of them; shame on you.
Just kidding. Or am I?
Having a kitchen that’s both small and messy should be a sin or at least a crime.
Anything looks shitty when it’s cluttered, and almost anything looks good once cleaned and clutter-free.
If you have an open-concept kitchen, making sure everything is in its rightful place is a must!
If your kitchen is always in use, then you’d appreciate it being well organized and clean.
For cooking lovers, having everything you need in easy-to-reach places will save you time and foster a more pleasurable experience.
Make use of kitchen storage solutions that are practical, functional, and adds to your aesthetic.
Anything that’s low-maintenance and easy to clean is ideal.
That’s A Wrap
To wrap up, let’s review the suggestions for making a small kitchen interior design workable: build off of an open-concept floor plan, go bright and airy with paint, paint or stain your cabinets, paint those doors, or swap them out for glass doors, get pretty area rugs, update your flooring, update your appliances and kitchen hardware, use wallpaper for backsplashes and accent walls, and declutter your kitchen!
While having a small kitchen can be a challenge sometimes, I hope these small kitchen interior design ideas inspired you to make the most out of the space you have.