Small Kitchen Design Advice

Your kitchen is small, that’s a fact that you cannot escape, but there are things that you can do to improve how it looks. You have to cook in this space every day for many years and the last thing you want is to feel as if you’re cooking in a dark cupboard. Space and light are the two priorities for small kitchens, this will make it a far more pleasant environment.

With some careful planning and cleaver tricks, a small kitchen can appear open and spacious. Here are a few of our tips:

Light, bright and consistent colours

Dark colours make a room look smaller, keeping your colour scheme lighter and brighter increases the amount of light being reflected into the kitchen, which can make it appear bigger. White or cream are the obvious choices, but you could go for a pale light green or a duck egg blue.

high gloss handleless kitchen

Whichever colour scheme you choose, keep it consistent. Having cabinets of different colours can ruin the light and open effect.

Plan VERY carefully

In your small kitchen, you have a very small amount of space, so you need to think everything through very carefully and make sure everything will fit and work as intended. For example, will your dishwasher door catch on the other door handles? Or does the pluming for your washing machine have enough room to be routed correctly?

Avoid cluttered worktops

Appliances which have been placed carefully can really enhance the flow and the character of your kitchen, but too much on the worktops can make your kitchen look cluttered. Can you integrate any of your appliances or store any appliances in cupboards?

Open wall storage

Storage space in a small kitchen is critical, every inch counts, but that doesn’t mean you should automatically squeeze in extra cupboards. Open storage such as shelves or hanging rails can give you the same amount of storage, but because it doesn’t have the cupboard door it can make that particular section look bigger. However, choosing all shelves for your storage is not advisable either, this could make the kitchen appear cluttered, there must be a balance.

Think carefully about lighting

You may have a stunning light fitting, but if it doesn’t fill your kitchen with light (including the ceiling), then it may be best to rethink. As we’ve mentioned, every inch counts in a small kitchen and dark areas can make the room look smaller. Good lighting from the ceiling and underneath cupboards can make a huge difference. Plus, you may even want to consider lighting above the kick board to give your kitchen that extra light and bright feel.

You also need to think about the colour of the lighting. A warm white, which appears more yellow, can make a kitchen look more homely and comfortable because this is often associated in our minds with sunsets. Whereas a cool white, which appears more of a blue colour, can make our kitchen look brighter and more awake because it’s more associated with the midday sun. Think about the look and feel you want to give your kitchen.

If you can use natural lighting, this would beat any artificial lighting options. Windows which have no obstructions are best, keep them free of clutter and the frame design simple and unobstructed. You may even want to add in a ceiling light tunnel, it’s incredible how much of a difference these can make to a room, without much building work.

Glossy/reflective surfaces

We often hear that we should use mirrors in hallways and bedrooms to make the space appear bigger, it’s a trick often used in restaurants, but we can use the same trick in the kitchen. Consider using high gloss kitchen units, this will reflect the light throughout the kitchen and give your space a clean modern look.

The same trick can be used for worktops, backsplash, taps and even appliances. However, as with everything in life, keep a balance between style and reflective surfaces you don’t want to go overboard.

Go handleless

The smallest of changes can make a huge difference to the look and feel of your kitchen. Not having the handles to break up the lines of your kitchen, gives you a very clean, modern and open feel. Perhaps you may even want to look at installing a high gloss handleless kitchen.

If you do consider this route, ensure you read our recent blog post on handleless kitchens, particularly on the section about ‘true handleless kitchens’. This blog guides you through everything you need to know about handleless kitchen design.

Other tips:

Do you need a full sized sink? – If you have a dishwasher, can you get away with a smaller sink? Worktop space is very valuable in a small kitchen.

Can you move your washing machine? – If you currently have a washing machine in your small kitchen, can you move it to somewhere else? That’s a lot of space that could be used for something else.

Consider how the doors open – There are many different cupboard door mechanisms, some will suit the style and practical space you have better than others. Not every door is designed to open outwards, some open upwards.

Slide and hide oven – If you have a very small amount of floor space, consider a NEFF Slide and Hide oven. This oven features a door which opens out then slides underneath the main oven cavity, the big advantage of this is that it keeps the door out of the way, perfect for when you’re rushing around a small space.

Multi use appliances – If you’re a real foodie who loves to cook a variety of different dishes, but you’re lacking the space for a multi-oven setup, consider buying ovens which do a variety of different things well. For example, NEFF make a FullSteam oven, this combines a CircoTherm oven and steam cooker in a single unit.

Don’t forget about the Shaker style – a lot of the advice we’ve given may make you think that you can only have a modern styled kitchen, but if you’re looking for a slightly more traditional look and feel, consider a Shaker styled kitchen.

Cost of a small kitchen

Small kitchens have one big advantage over a normal sized kitchen, they cost less. This enables you to focus on better quality units, worktops and appliances. You’ll be looking at between £3,000 and £6,000 for good quality designer units, basic worktops and a few appliances. Because it’s small, you can make the kitchen of your dreams for a very reasonable price.


Small kitchens are tricky and present a large number of unique design challenges. They must be carefully planned out to ensure that you’re using the space in the most effective possible way and that you’re making the space feel larger than it is. It’s very important that you think about light, this will give the biggest illusion of space in your kitchen.

We hope the tips we’ve given help you to design the best possible kitchen. However, if you need some design assistance or just general advice, please get in touch with us. We offer a FREE design service for all of our kitchens. Call 01279 504230 or email for more information.