5 May 2022 | Updated: March 1, 2023

Home ideas

Small kitchen ideas: Maximising functionality and style

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.

Small kitchen


Table of Contents

– Planning tips

Optimum layouts

– Storage ideas

– Design ideas


How to make a small kitchen space look bigger?

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:

Small kitchen layout

#1 Small kitchen layout

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.

#2 Small kitchen applicances

Use full-size appliances rather than smaller versions, i.e. a four or three-ring hob, under-counter fridge, microwave etc.

Small kitchen storage

#3 Small kitchen storage ideas

Bring the cupboards right up to the underside of the ceiling, or soffit to provide maximum storage and sensation of additional space.

#4 Small kitchen colour ideas

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.

Small kitchen cabinet design

#5 Small kitchen cabinet design

Keep the cupboard doors simple and unfussy. Having push-mechanism drawers and cabinets also helps make the overall layout seem larger.

#6 Small kitchen backsplash

Simple but suitable should be the mantra. The mirror backsplash will amplify the space but the same effect can be achieved with high gloss tiles or even metallic effect tiles.

Small kitchen flooring

#7 Small kitchen flooring

Continuous kitchen flooring helps open up the space visually and makes it appear larger than it is. Rectified tiles help achieve a seamless effect. Vinyl flooring also works.

#8 Small kitchen lighting ideas

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.

Small kitchen countertops

#9 Small kitchen worktop

Stainless steel, white or grey marble or light-coloured worktops make great options for small kitchens. If timber is preferred, keep it in the pine or maple range of colours.

Guide to optimum configurations for small kitchens

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.


Best small kitchen layouts

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.


Small Kitchen Layouts


#1 Small Galley Kitchen (Double Galley)

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.


#2 Small hidden kitchen

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.


#3 Small L-Shaped kitchen

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.


#4 Small U-Shaped kitchen

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.


#5 Small Peninsula Kitchen

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.

Kitchen layout planning


Choosing a kitchen configuration can be challenging, so why not start by downloading our kitchen planner?



Small kitchen storage ideas

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:

  • Use glass panels for wall cabinets to add dimension to a small kitchen configuration.
  • Mix and match floating shelving and wall cabinets.
  • Cabinet inserts can double the storage capacity of standard units.
  • Hooks and rails if featured judiciously add to the working kitchen aesthetic and provide valuable extra storage.


Small kitchen design


Small kitchen designs

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:

  • Multi-functional appliances. Cooling drawers, microwave combi ovens, fridge-freezers, sink waste disposal, and other appliances help save space.
  • An island on wheels. For space-challenged kitchens, the moveable island is a great way to gain extra storage and prep space.
  • Covers for the hob and sink. Depending on the detailing and the type of hob a cover can be used to provide additional prep space. These covers typically slot into the recessed sink or close down over a hob.
  • Technology. Kitchen appliances are smarter than ever before. For example, the induction hob can be programmed to cook for you. Moreover, these multifunctional appliances can help you save space, as they don’t require as much storage.

Modern small kitchen ideas: planning checklist

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


Small kitchen island ideas & counters

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.

Small kitchen island

Can you put an island in a small kitchen?

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.

Book an in-store appointment 


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