7 Small Kitchen Tips From an Interior Designer

10 kitchen interior design tips from an expert – create your dream space

7 Small Kitchen Tips From an Interior Designer

When it comes to kitchen interior design, there really is more to it than meets the eye. Before considering colourways and decorative features, it's important to get the flow of the space, position of appliances and work surfaces just right to make sure that your space is functional in a way that suits you and your family's lifestyle needs.

So how would a professional interior designer approach the look of a new kitchen? We're here to fill you in with expert interior design tips for all types of kitchens. Be yours contemporary or traditional, we've got all the know-how you need to help turn your kitchen into your dream space.

For plenty more kitchen ideas and related questions you might have, be sure to visit our hub.

(Image credit: Neptune)

1. Is your kitchen layout properly space-planned?

This really comes into the remit of a kitchen designer, but if you're designing your kitchen yourself, ensure you get the following spot on:

Is everything where you need it? Consider how and where you use the different items in your kitchen, and place everything conveniently.

Breakfast cereals and bowls should be near the breakfast table or kitchen island, for example. Plate storage and the bin should be as near as possible to the dishwasher, which, ideally, should be near the sink.

Bread board and bread storage near the toaster; cups near the teapot or boiling water tap. 

'If you’re installing your hob on an island, it’s a good idea to incorporate a prep sink on the island too so that you don’t have to walk across a main kitchen thoroughfare with pans of boiling water to reach the main sink. Adding a prep sink also helps to zone the different areas of the room, which is useful if there’s often more than one person working in the kitchen at the same time.'

Is the gap between cabinetry runs wide enough? Designing a galley kitchen? Or perhaps installing a kitchen island? Paths through the kitchen should be 1m wide, and through cooking zones, at least 1.25m wide. 

Have you got the direction of traffic right? All kitchens lead off other rooms and often overlook a garden, so getting the passage between the various spaces right is vital, especially so if you're designing an open plan kitchen, diner and living space or a planning a family kitchen. Ideally, the lay the kitchen should look natural but you also want to ensure that the cooking zone isn't the room's main thoroughfare. Why? From a safety point of view, you don't want children catching pan handles as they pass; and, from a cook's point of view, you don't want to be constantly moving the way of people passing through. And if your kids constantly access the fridge or cupboards for snacks, that might mean considering the location of these two zones carefully, too.

(Image credit: deVOL)

  • If you're planning your kitchen from scratch and need kitchen design help you can look to our guide.

2. Choose the right colour for your kitchen cabinets

Just as you would in your living room, base the choice of your kitchen cabinet colour on how it will make the room feel. This is largely down to the amount of natural daylight the room receives, and where in the room the kitchen sits.

So, if you're designing a kitchen extension with the dining and living areas overlooking the garden, and the kitchen units at the darker end of the room, light-coloured cabinetry will reflect light around back into that part of the room, making it feel larger.

If, on the other hand, your kitchen is sitting within a south-facing, light-filled room, darker units are not only entirely suitable, they might actually make the kitchen feel more homely.

Choosing the right colour for kitchen cabinets isn't just about light, though. Picking a grainy wood finish for your units will introduce texture and interest into an otherwise featureless room – perhaps a contemporary extension that has no period details. 

Or perhaps you want to introduce a bold colour to your kitchen? Popular when painting cabinetry, bright colours add instant personality to the kitchen; however, this should be done with caution: you have to be sure you will love your kitchen's bright colour scheme now and in the future, and it's not wise to choose a bold colour if you think you might sell within five to 10 years. You could of course always paint your kitchen cabinetry yourself and then revert back when you get tired of it or come to sell your home. Check out our guide to painting kitchen cabinets to find out how. 

Still love the idea of a bold kitchen colour? Limit it to a painted kitchen island – you'll get maximum impact that you can easily transform.

Finally, the colour of your kitchen cabinets should, ideally, reflect the colours used elsewhere in your home. This goes for every room – if it echoes the themes and schemes of all the others, your home will feel more cohesive and will flow better overall.

(Image credit: Fiona Walker-Arnott)

3. Pick the right finish for your kitchen units

High-gloss, mid-sheen or matt finish for your kitchen cabinetry? This is really down to the style of your home. If it's contemporary, high-gloss units will fit right in, as will mid-sheen and matt finishes. If it's a traditional home or period property, steer clear of high-gloss and stick to mid-sheen or matt finish cabinetry.

'If you do going for high-gloss units, use natural wood elsewhere in the scheme – in the flooring, worktops or as other elements – to soften a potentially clinical feel and to help to create a more family-friendly, contemporary environment. Inject colour and texture where possible, with fabric sofas or dining chair coverings.'

It's always worth doing your research on both cabinet colours and finishes – ask your kitchen designer the right questions, and see if you can take cabinet door samples home to see how they will look in your room's light, rather than under showroom lighting. Check out our 25 kitchen cabinet ideas, too.

(Image credit: Kasia Fiszer)

4. Is your kitchen cabinet design right?

Consider the kitchen cabinet style you want from a purely aesthetic view.

You may love the traditional feel of a Shaker style kitchen, but would the sleek lines of a handleless, ultra-modern kitchen suit your contemporary kitchen extension better? Could a curved kitchen be more sympathetic to your small kitchen's proportions? How do the cabinets' handles and knobs complement other fittings in your home? 

(Image credit: Olive & Barr)

5. Opt for the best worktops for your kitchen

Choosing the best kitchen worktop types is as important as getting the cabinetry colour and finish right.

If you're installing a high gloss, contemporary kitchen, this is the opportunity to introduce warm texture, such as wood; if your room has period detailing, such as a marble fire surround, perhaps marble worktops – or composite lookas – will be a good way to tie the scheme together; or perhaps you'd to mix and match different worktop materials within a run of units and a kitchen island to add interest to the room? 

If you're designing a stylish kitchen on a budget, you might have scrimped on the cabinetry or be planning to fit your kitchen yourself – either way, good quality, handsome kitchen worktops will lift the room instantly.

(Image credit: Philip Lauterbach)

6. Is the kitchen detailing up to scratch?

A good kitchen designer will take care of the tiny details for you, but what if you're designing an Ikea kitchen yourself, for example? Here are just a few of the smaller details to work into your kitchen design:

  • Do you have a gap to fill? Rather than fill over it with a blank piece of cabinetry, could it be made into a handy bread board or tray niche?
  • How far from the ceilings are the top of your cabinets? They need to either be far enough that you can get in to clean them (kitchen cabinet tops are sticky dust traps), or designed to be floor-to-ceiling to avoid this and to make the most of storage space.
  • Where will your least good-looking or least-used appliances be stored (this includes the microwave)? Ideally, they'd be fitted into a larder cabinet or stashed away when not in use so as not to gather dust and clutter up worktops.
  • Is everything at the right height? It's all very well stacking fitted ovens, but if you can't easily or safely remove hot dishes from yours because it's too high, then you've made a costly mistake.
  • Similarly, can small children reach what they need safely? A low cupboard with their cups and bowls stored inside will help them be more independent and stop them climbing up on worktops to reach what they need.
  • Is there enough room on either side of the hob or just next to the oven to put down hot dishes? Ideally, you need a good 40cm of worktop space for this. 
  • Have you got electrical points exactly where you need them – including on a kitchen island – and are there enough? Ideally you don't want to have to unplug appliances to be able to use others – or to charge a phone, for example.

Suffolk kitchen by Neptune

(Image credit: Neptune)

7. Have you got the right kind of kitchen storage?

'In a well-planned kitchen, it’s not simply a question of having enough storage space, you also need to ensure you choose the right kitchen storage for your needs.

For example, deep drawers for crockery, serving dishes and cookware are often more useful than standard floor cabinets where you have to get down on your hands and knees to see items at the back of the cupboard.

Pay attention to smaller details, too: ask yourself whether you have planned storage for items such as spices and dry foods close to the preparation area.'

Good storage for small kitchens can make or break your room, so pay particular attention to getting these details right. And if you need any more tips on getting the best storage for small kitchens, check out our gallery for ideas. 

8. Get the kitchen lighting right

Planning kitchen lighting needs be done early on – at extension design stage or when you're considering your kitchen's layout.

Task lighting is a given, but don't forget to work in ambient lighting, dimmable options and good-looking pendants: your kitchen shouldn't just be about how it functions; how it looks while you're eating or socialising in it is important, too.

(Image credit: FritzFryer)

9. Is your kitchen fit for socialising?

If you've worked a kitchen island into your design, have you come up with kitchen island seating ideas? Is there enough space for yours or would a breakfast bar do the trick just as well? Are the bar stools or dining chairs you've picked comfortable enough to encourage people to linger? You'd be amazed how much these small details will increase the amount of time your family spends together – and they're a handy addition when friends come over, too.

If you need more advice on adding a kitchen island, have a read through these clever kitchen island design ideas.

(Image credit: Mowlem & Co)

10. Give the kitchen personality

From choosing kitchen wall paint colours to creating a gallery wall or picking pretty kitchen wallpaper designs, giving your kitchen's interior design personality is all in the detailing. Choosing the best kitchen window dressings, sourcing the best kitchen flooring or simply displaying family photos effectively are all part of the process of giving your kitchen personality. 

Just as you'd add those personal touches to a living room, putting your own stamp on a kitchen will take it from showroom piece to heart of the home.  

(Image credit: Little Greene)

More kitchen planning advice:

Source: https://www.realhomes.com/design/interior-design-advice-for-kitchens

50 Best Small Kitchen Design Ideas – Decor Solutions for Small Kitchens

7 Small Kitchen Tips From an Interior Designer

deVol Kitchens

1 Get Some Statement Lighting

Is anyone actually going to notice how big or small your kitchen is when you've got an amazing piece of statement lighting? Definitely not. We're also loving the mixed metals and olive green paint in this one.

2 Store Things On Top of Cabinets

If you've got space between your cabinets and your ceiling, you've got storage. Add wicker baskets and it's the perfect spot to keep lesser-used tools. In this kitchen designed by Michelle Nussbaumer, she chose a vibrant ikat print to embolden the entire area.

3 Pare Down

Do you really need 25 extra bowls? Pare down your kitchen stuff to the bare minimum and you'll be surprised how much space you actually have. That way, your textural materials can really pop.

4 Keep It Classic

Here's one more reason to love subway tiling. Lay it horizontally all around your kitchen and it will help the space feel wider. And stick to a neutral, bright palette for a classic look.

5 Go High-Gloss

Here's another show-stopper brought to you by Michelle Nnussbaumer. The blush pink and deep aqua lacquered cabinets are reflective, which means they make the space feel large ( the classic mirror trick, but colorful).

6 Use Your Green Thumb

Plants make everything feel happier—even small kitchens. Plus, if you get great light, why not make use it? ETC.etera cleverly put a large plant on top of the fridge to brighten up the space.

7 Mirror the Walls

Mirror the walls to make a small kitchen feel larger. In this gorgeous apartment designed by Akin Atelier, the mirrors accentuate the sweeping views. And with a view that, who cares what size the kitchen is?

8 Organize Strategically

If you're adding shelves for storage, you don't want them to look cluttered. Arrange bowls and mugs by color so everything feels cohesive. In this small kitchen designed by Velinda Hellen for Emily Henderson, every single space is used for extra storage—even the side of the island, where they installed a rod to hang cooking tools.

9 Ditch the Hardware

Skip bulky hardware on your cabinetry and drawers. It'll help your space look more streamlined and sleek. Going monochrome will also make it feel a jewel box.

10 Go Bright

You know the drill: whiter=brighter. Keep everything white, then add in pops of color from your serving ware or a cool pendant light that doesn't take up too much space.

11 Squeeze In More Cabinets

To squeeze in extra storage, try adding little cubbies to fill in the space above a window or your range hood. Just make sure you have a step ladder handy. We're also digging the statement hood in this Hecker Guthrie-designed kitchen. Proof that size doesn't matter.

12 Warm It Up With a Rug

When there's not much you can do with a cramped space without making it feel even smaller, add a rug. It'll warm it up, and add color and pattern without overwhelming your kitchen. Interior designer Michelle Nussbaumer also chose a warm color palette and packs plenty of texture-rich materials into the small space.

13 Embrace the Cozy

The smaller, the cozier. Embrace it with warm cream colors and gold fixtures. In this small cubic kitchen designed by deVol Kitchens, the retro English-style hardware complements the size of the space.

14 Embolden a Galley Kitchen

Sure, galley-style kitchens lack counter space, but you can make up for it by thinking of the space in stations: an area to prep, an area for stovetop cooking, and so on.

Then you can make dinner assembly-line style.

This one designed by Brady Tolbert for Emily Henderson manages to make room for everything (those ceiling-high cabinets help) while also packing a lot of style punch with monochrome graphic touches.

15 Expose Your Goods

Keeping things white will brighten up a small space, but that doesn't mean you have to swear off wood forever. Reclaimed wood shelving adds contrast—and necessary storage. In this deVol Kitchen, the prettiest items are displayed on the exposed wall-to-wall shelves and cubbies so the less attractive essentials can be tucked away in the cabinets.

16 Slide in a Bar Cart

When your kitchen is minuscule, you'll have to surrender the dream of a kitchen island (for now, at least). The next best—and most proportionally appropriate—thing? A bar cart! It provides a little more storage and you can also opt for a little rolling cart with a butcherblock top for cooking.

17 Create Your Own Pantry

If you have zero space in your kitchen, don't stress. Create your own storage nook on a nearby wall in your house by putting up shelves and placing some stools underneath. You'll have a place to put your bag, shoes, and hats when you come home, and a place for all those gifted cake stands you've accumulated. That's a thing, right?

18 Ensure the Breakfast Counter Flows

Connect a kitchen and dining area with a cute pass-through. Not only does it open up both rooms, but the countertop adds a spot for breakfast if you don't have room for a nook in the kitchen.

19 Get Scrappy

Take advantage of literally every little surface, even one's that don't seem functional. For example, deVol Kitchens added a rod with hooks under the upper shelves to hang mugs and cooking utensils. Strategic and chic.

20 Keep Stools Low

Disco ball or breakfast counter? This tiny kitchen designed by ETC.etera for L.A.'s Firehouse Hotel is beyond cool. The mirrored tile backsplash contrasts nicely with the casual wicker stools. The key is to keep them low-profile as to not take up too much visual real estate.

21 Make a Statement

It's tiny, so every inch should be both functional and communicate the right style statement. In this deVol kitchen, it's all about unique patterned backsplash and a bold paint color.

22 Make it Blend In

If you have a small kitchen that's exposed to your living space, make it blend is as much as possible. Here, the silver refrigerator, simply white cabinetry, and marble countertops manage to be both stylish and understood so the dining room can shine under the spotlight. Plus, a farm table can do double-duty as a dinner spot and work surface.

23 Choose a Moody Color Scheme

Once you decide what color to go with, don't forget about the finish. A high-gloss coating can help a small space feel larger.

24 Conceal Everything

Designed by Matthew Ferrarini, this kitchen is bursting with ingenious small-space solutions. He used folding wood pocket doors to conceal the entire counter and cabinet area against the wall. This would be a major game-changer in a studio apartment in particular.

25 Opt for Backless Stools

Backless stools can slip under a counter to save space. Choose a color that'll blend in with your island, unifying the room. The industrial stools in this open kitchen designed by Leanne Ford blend right in.

26 Make It a Jewel Box

This kitchen designed by Garrow Kedigian is the perfect mix between over-the-top glam and pared back industrial. We didn't think that was possible until now. Use metallic finishes and statement lighting for a similar effect.

27 Hang Pots and Pans

Bulky pans can take up valuable space, so install an industrial pot rack above the kitchen island or on an empty wall. It's functional and stylish. In this kitchen designed by Leanne Ford Interiors, the copper pots and pans boast a vintage, French country-style character.

28 Go to the Dark Side

Embrace small space by going for black cabinetry. Contrary to popular belief, dark paint colors can actually make a small space feel larger than stark white paint. In this modestly-sized kitchen designed by Heidi Caillier, the inky hue makes for an intimate and soothing atmosphere.

29 Rethink the Layout

This itty-bitty kitchen designed by Jess Bunge for Emily Henderson Design proves that no space is too small to be functional and pretty. The bold convex mirror brings a sense of fun and personal style and also detracts from the stove (which, in such a small space, could have looked bulky).

30 Add a Shelf Above the Sove

To expand a tiny kitchen, add extra shelves in places they'd be most functional, above the stove. That way, you won't have to spend a lot of money, or take up valuable floor space. This moody farmhouse kitchen designed by deVol kitchen also takes advantage of the wide windowsill, using it as an extra surface.

31 Face the Windows

Add in as many windows as you can to make a small space feel less claustrophobic. A glossy finish on cabinets also helps—it bounces light back into the room.

32 Highlight a Bright Color

Opt for a metallic hood and saturated range to make a statement. Then tone things down with a runner and artwork in muted iteration of the same color, as done here inn this pretty kitchen designed by Cameron Ruppert Interiors.

33 Make Your Island Multi-Purpose

If your kitchen is small, you ly won't have room for an island and a breakfast nook. Choose an island that'll do double duty—you can use it as counter space when you're prepping dinner, and eat at it later.

34 Pull Up A Chair

You might not have room for a breakfast nook, but you can probably make some space for a counter bar. To make it feel a little cozier, add a patterned rug. See more at Amber Interiors.

35 Industrial Edge

Open shelves amp up the cool, industrial feel to this kitchen's exposed pipes. To keep it feeling a bit more polished, go for all white.

36 Color Block

You can hardly tell that the cabinets in this kitchen by Maltsev Design stretch all the way up to the ceilings. The color-blocking approach helps disguise them, as does the lack of hardware.

37 Rolling Kitchen Ladder

Adding extra storage up top is a great idea—but reaching it, on the other hand, is a challenge. Install a rolling ladder to access ceiling-height cabinets.

38 Bring In a Tall Table

A tall table works great in a space that's too small for a dining table and too big to have nothing. It can function as both a nook and an island. In this kitchen designed by Hecker Guthrie, the wooden table overlaps with the modern kitchen island.

39 Appliance Garage

To keep countertops clear, tuck the toaster and coffeemaker away in a sleek appliance garage. A stand mixer can pop up from its own designated cabinet if you install a spring-loaded shelf.

40 Add Extra Task Lighting

You'll need all the task lighting you can get in a small kitchen. Here, deVol Kitchens installed three small pendants over the countertop workspace.

41 Moveable Kitchen Bar

To gain counter space, add a movable bar to the doorway of your kitchen. When you need to get in and out, you can easily roll it the way.

42 Singular Kitchen Shelf

No counter space? No problem. A single shelf adds a spot to put the not-so-necessary (but actually, totally necessary) kitchen items candles, art, and vases.

43 Hide Your Toaster

Instead of keeping your appliances, a toaster or microwave, out in plain sight, work with yoru contractor and designer to come up with cool ways to hide them. Here, Mick De Guilio created a sliding quartzite door on the counter to hide a pull out tray for the toaster. It blends in with the rest of the backsplash.

44 Add Some Wallpaper

You may not have a ton of counter/floor space to play with decor, so make a statement on your walls. If you don't want it to feel too overpowering, accent with it instead of covering an entire wall.

45 Copper Shelving

If you're low on cupboard space, add storage on shelves. Copper-pipe shelving has hooks for hanging mugs, shelves to stack dishes, and looks super chic.

46 Glass Doors

In this kitchen, wood floors extend out to an adjacent deck through glass doors, creating the illusion of a much bigger space. It's modern meets farmhouse, and I'm obsessed.

47 Folding Doors

Create folding doors to close off the dining room from the kitchen. If space is tight, you'll benefit from the extra room when guests come over.

48 Metallic Sheen

If the space is small, play around with fun wallpaper. Something with a little sheen will make the room gleam…even if you haven't gotten to the dishes in, uh, a while.

49 Open Shelving

Try open shelves instead of upper cabinets for an airy feel. Just make sure you don't clutter them or else it will look too busy.

50 Saturated Color

Pump up a color and make it feel even more vibrant by lacquering it. Keep everything, even the fridge, the same color and it'll feel more uniform.

Source: https://www.housebeautiful.com/room-decorating/kitchens/g394/small-kitchens/