5 May 2022 | Updated: March 1, 2023
Small is beautiful too as far as kitchens are concerned. With some creativity and smart design solutions, even the tiniest of kitchens can be transformed into a charming and efficient cooking space.
There’s no need to miss out on the culinary experience if you don’t have an enormous, echo-filled space. It’s simply a matter of being cleverer with organising the space you do have. This article provides a definitive guide to doing more with less in the kitchen. We will give tips on layouts, how to organise available space and design ideas for small but perfectly formed kitchens. With these small kitchen ideas, you can turn your compact space into a functional and stylish kitchen that meets all your culinary needs.
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According to the census, the size of UK households is getting smaller with each passing decade. Not only in terms of occupancy but also in terms of floor area. Small houses and apartments present certain challenges when it comes to layout. We want everything modern life has to offer but must learn how to fit more into less.
These tips help to plan smaller spaces to accommodate the kitchen without sacrificing quality:
The single most important decision to maximise available space is to match the right kitchen layout to the available space. Later on, we’ll go over the best kitchen layouts for small kitchens.
Use full-size appliances rather than smaller versions, i.e. a four or three-ring hob, under-counter fridge, microwave etc.
Bring the cupboards right up to the underside of the ceiling, or soffit to provide maximum storage and sensation of additional space.
By keeping the colour palette white, light grey or pastel shades the sensation of space is made larger psychologically. This is because reflected light tricks the eye into erasing boundary edges.
Keep the cupboard doors simple and unfussy. Having push-mechanism drawers and cabinets also helps make the overall layout seem larger.
Under-cabinet or overhead task lighting is a must-have in a small kitchen. Shadows cast across a work surface should be avoided at all costs.
Some small kitchens will seem more spacious than others. It’s all about fitting the right configuration with the space available. Not every layout will work within a given space. However, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to kitchen configurations.
The following layouts are listed in order of compactness. We have included both kitchens in separate and open-plan spaces. Another given is the ‘triangulation rule’ that governs the relationship between storage, preparation and cleaning.
A single run of cupboards and appliances, typically arranged against a wall is known as a galley kitchen. This arrangement is the most efficient in terms of ‘use of space’. The galley kitchen is usually open at two ends even if it’s within a separate space of its own. The double galley is simply two parallel runs of worktop and appliances facing one another.
▶ Note. The distance between the hob and the sink must not be greater than 1.8 m for health and safety reasons. Carrying hot liquids and kitchenware any further is considered a hazard.
This is a variation on the single galley layout. Typically the Hidden Kitchen is camouflaged behind sliding or folding cabinet doors. A short countertop is framed by vertical pantry units on either side. An island addition is optional, typically placed symmetrically with the galley kitchen that can also serve as a breakfast bar / additional preparation counter space.
This configuration is ideal for small spaces, in separate compartmentalised layouts, but can equally work in open-plan kitchens. We recommend positioning the hob and oven on one leg of the L configuration with the sink on the other. And keep all pantry and tall units within the shorter side of the L for the optimum aesthetic.
The U configuration can work in areas that have a minimum of 1525 mm (60 inches) clear space between opposite counters. This together with the 60 cm typically required for appliances and worktop width gives a minimum of 2725 mm total width required. The U configuration is the ideal one for the work triangle. Pay particular attention to the corner base units, i.e. use carousel storage insets to squeeze every square cm of storage.
▶ Note. In order to avoid a claustrophobic sensation make sure one of the surrounding walls has floating shelving. This helps avoid a closed-in feeling.
The L-Shaped or U-Shaped layout can be adapted with one length of the countertop used as a practical breakfast bar. This also functions as an additional workspace. Cantilever the worktop over the side facing the room for tucking in legs. Keep the breakfast bar at standard worktop height (90 cm off floor level) or raise it to shelf level (107 cm) slightly above, maintaining the standard counter below for additional prep space.
Storage is probably the most important aspect of small kitchen design to get right. Be ruthless with deciding on what is useful and what is superfluous to requirements. When you have the absolute essentials then follow these tips:
No matter how small a kitchen is some things cannot be compromised. The kitchen must have enough counter space for food prep and include all necessary modern appliances. Designers and architects are often inspired by the servery of aeroplanes and ships for optimising practical spaces like the kitchen. After all hundreds of passengers can be catered to within a minuscule area on planes and cruise ships.
These tips will help:
In the age of Uber everything, for some having a kitchen is simply decorative. For others, the kitchen is the very heart of the home. The small kitchen presents a special challenge. Follow our checklist below to ensure the best results.
▢ Choose an appropriate kitchen configuration
▢ Plan the position of the fittings & appliances
▢ Select an appropriate design for the cabinet doors & ironmongery
▢ Ensure your configuration maximises storage
▢ Don’t forget to integrate waste/recycling
▢ Install flooring and backsplash finishes that add to the sensation of space
▢ The worktop should be light and reflective
▢ Make artificial lighting both a feature and a practical tool
▢ Maximise any natural light available
▢ Keep the colour palette bright
Even a 30 cm wide continuous surface can be of use in a small kitchen. A non-standard island that is mobile or fixed will always be handy to have. And for the double galley kitchen, one side can simply be the width of a wall cabinet, i.e. between 30 and 35 cm with a shelf provided at countertop level.
Yes. There is always space for an island, no matter how small a kitchen is. An island is both a practical solution for small kitchens and an attractive one. It can be a breakfast bar and additional prep space. It can be fixed or mobile. The important thing is that there is enough space to move easily around it, open floor cabinets and reach the sink, hob and fridge unobstructed.
▶ Check out more kitchen island ideas
As you can see after reading this guide, the possibilities for making the most of a small kitchen are limitless. Taking this into consideration, the best thing to do is contact a professional who will offer you a specific solution for your kitchen based on the configuration of your kitchen and the style you want to give it. Come to your local Porcelanosa store and our kitchen experts will gladly assist you.