11 Tall Tips for Your Small Kitchen Remodel

From on September 30, 2009 in Kitchen Remodel

small kitchen paintKitchen design experts all agree - the smaller the kitchen, the more efficient it has to be. Every square inch can be maximized for effortless movement around the stove and to and from appliances. So let’s whip that kitchen into shape.

Here are 11 tips for making your small kitchen remodel a burning hot success:

1. The Look of Light

You may not be able to make your kitchen any bigger, but you can certainly make it appear that way with these design tricks. Select lots of light colors like whites, beiges, natural woods, yellows, etc., for your flooring, cabinetry, appliances, and countertops. Reflective materials can also give the illusion of a larger space because they amplify light - stainless steel appliances and counters really help with this, as well as the addition of mirrored tile. More on selecting kitchen paint colors.

2. You Don‘t Need That!

Small Kitchen Sink
Look for ways to maximize space - every inch you save is an inch you can use more efficiently. Downsize your double bowl kitchen sink to a single bowl, but be sure to get the deepest bowl you can find. The general rule is to conserve surface area and slim down appliance width. A bulky, side-by-side refrigerator can easily be substituted for a slimmer bottom freezer model. And if you’ve got a canned good pantry you rarely use, consider moving it around the corner or into an adjacent area.

3. Superfluously Redundant

Kitchen Mixer
Some things are better off obliterated. Lose the items that duplicate the functions of other appliances. A trash compactor and a trash can are unnecessary. Even the little overlapping accessories can add up, like large countertop mixers and hand mixers, manual and electric can openers, etc. These can be pared down without sacrificing anything.

4. Kitchen Junction

What’s Your Function?: I know you’re going to say cooking, duh, but take a good look at your pattern of use in the kitchen. What’s your ideal home kitchen? For some, it’s lots and lots of storage space. For others, it’s hi-tech gadgetry or convenience. Whatever your interest, try to figure out how you can best achieve that.

  • For storage nuts, scale back the appliances and opt for more cabinetry. If you don’t need much countertop space, you can substitute tall pantry cabinets for some of your base and wall cabinets.
  • If you’re all about wide, open countertop space, do away with pantry or oven cabinets and keep all appliances below.

5. You Got This!

You may not consider yourself all that handy, but the smaller the room, the easier it is to remodel it yourself. Large home improvement stores carry pretty much everything you need and by buying off the shelf instead of paying a contractor, you’ll save lots of dough. Pick out your own flooring, cabinets, countertops and appliances right there in the store. Know your limitations, though, and hire a pro when you need it. Jobs like cutting countertops, installing plumbing fixtures and adding electrical receptacles may be well worth calling a contractor.

6. Bright Lights, Big Kitchen

Small Kitchen Lighting
Visually, extra lighting will do a lot to expand the feel of your kitchen.
You can add more light by simply putting in brighter bulbs, installing under-the-cabinet halogen lights, opting for touch lighting or any number of light features.

Or go one step further and add natural light. If possible, think about putting a window or skylight in your kitchen. If you already have a window, consider expanding it to a larger size or installing an additional window. Skylights are great, but if you’ve got a second story overhead, then that may not be an option for you. In this case, you could always opt for a solar tube, which carries light from your rooftop through a tube and into a fixture on your ceiling, no matter which floor of the house you’re kitchen is on. View our gallery of kitchen lighting ideas.

7. Into the Deep


Small Kitchen Countertops
Regardless of how much we use our kitchens, we all overuse our countertops. They’re not only work surfaces, but also tend to become our mail-pile receptacles, job/work centers, small appliance stands, dish dryer areas and so on. To give your kitchen more work space, order countertops that are deeper than normal. The standard kitchen countertop is 25 inches deep (to cover a 24-inch cabinet with a 1-inch overhang).

If you special order your countertops, you can get them any size you like. Consider upgrading to 30 inches deep for counters that will butt up against walls and 36 inches for tops out in the open (i.e. kitchen islands).

8. Deeper Yet

And if you’re going to give yourself more countertop space, you might also consider ordering your kitchen cabinets deeper as well for additional storage. You’d be surprised how little you’ll miss that extra 6 inches of floor space, but you’ll definitely notice the space you gain in storage and work area.

9. Get Some Closure

You can save even more space by utilizing built-in features in your small kitchen. Built-ins come in many different forms - some can be found in-stock at the hardware store, while others may have to be special-ordered or custom-made.

Built-in appliances can be framed in to help them blend in with your cabinetry for a more continuous flow. There are also built-in pantries and appliance garages for extra storage space, built-in small storage features for foods (i.e. potatoes, onions and breads), and slide-out or pop-up built-in shelving for stashing small appliances, such as toasters and mixers.

10. Use the Nitty-Gritty

Take advantage of tight little spaces. Waste nothing. Put tilt-out trays behind the false drawer fronts on your sink cabinet and use it for holding your sponges, empty trash bags and other small items. If your wall cabinets stop short of a window or leave a gap between the cabinet tops and ceiling, use that space for anything you can. You might put up small shelves or hooks next to the window to hold cookbooks or hang cooking utensils. Rarely used fine China or serving platters can be stored on top of the cabinets. And don’t forget the gaps between the end of the countertop and an adjacent wall. The space may be tight, but it’s probably big enough to stash a mop or broom.

11 - Wow ‘Em with Style

Instead of worrying about trying to make your kitchen appear larger, you could just make a few bold choices that completely transform the look. While the space may still be small, the main impression of the room will change to “Wow!” You can do this by using bold contrasts between materials like the flooring, cabinetry, countertops and wall colors. You don’t want to blind your guests with neon, but choose some vibrant colors that really make the room pop and then accent some features with those colors.