Small Talk | Small Kitchen Design Tips

The perfect recipe for cooking up a small kitchen with style.

Small Talk

As with any room design, the key to creating a small, well-organized kitchen is careful planning. You need to think about how you'll use the space and how it should be designed to best serve your needs.Here are the main components of every kitchen and how to make them work in a small space.

One of the most important considerations in a small kitchen is the height of the cabinets. Styles that extend to the ceiling are the best option for a small space. Not only do they pull the eye upward, they also offer storage for rarely used items. Frameless cabinetry is another good option for smaller kitchens because they contain more storage space.

One of the biggest trends in kitchen design today is the movement toward an open floorplan. Small or large, today's kitchen flows into surrounding living and dining areas. for it to work with this scheme, substitute a wall or two with an island or peninsula or carve out an arched entryway between your kitchen and an adjoining room. Sometimes, though, if you're space is really limited, a long-and-narrow galley-style kitchen is most efficient.

Look for a smaller range or stackable pieces. Microwaves are often built into cabinetry to free up counter space. And finally, U.S. manufacturers are beginning to take cues from European companies who've been making smaller appliances for decades.

Lower cabinets are more accessible, thanks to roll-out shelves, lazy Susans, tilt-out bins and door-mounted storage. A built-in trash can saves valuable floor space, while a pull-out pantry lets you stock up on dry food with organizational aplomb.

Other accessories such as tray dividers for utensils, cookbook holders and spice racks are storage possibilities that become even more important in a small kitchen.

To make your kitchen feel larger, experts recommend using a softer palette. For cabinets, wall paint, flooring and counters, opt for subtle, lighter colors to create a sense of airiness. Then accent them with small doses of vibrant color or custom tile. In a small kitchen, a little punch is all you need.

Place lights under cabinets for countertop illumination and above the sink or island to brighten work areas. Recessed lighting is a good option, too. Not only does it provide even light, it also makes the kitchen feel taller than it really is.

Natural lighting is another essential ingredient to kitchen design. Add a skylight to brighten up the room, or eliminate window treatments to let in more light.

The full story appeared in the Fall 2004 issue of Timber Frame Homes.

Hearthstone photo by Franklin and Esther Schmidt