By David Glenn
The kitchen is the heart of your home, but a tiny, cramped kitchen just isn’t all that inviting—for you or your guests. While a complete kitchen renovation may be way out of your budget right now, here are some simple ways to make a kitchen look and feel bigger than it is.
1. Clear out the clutter: It’s amazing how, even in a tiny kitchen, clutter accumulates on whatever counter space is available. And nothing says, “This kitchen is really small and ready to burst at the seams,” like stuff sitting out everywhere. Clear out the things you really don’t need, such as appliances, dishes and other kitchen items you seldom use, and you’ll be amazed at how much bigger your kitchen looks and feels. You’ll also benefit from the calming effect that a de-cluttered room provides.
2. Get some “hang-ups”: Once you’ve removed the clutter, there will probably still be certain necessary kitchen items that you can’t quite get rid of that are still taking up room and giving the kitchen a smaller feel. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they need to remain in your countertop. By installing a few storage hooks into your walls or ceiling, or underneath your cabinets, you can relocate some of those counter-items and free up even more space. Magnetic racks are also available for storing cutting knives and other metal kitchen items in “out of the way” yet easy to reach places.
3. Get some shelf help: Many cupboards in older kitchens are basically cavernous boxes with few—if any—internal shelves. IKEA and many other furniture and home improvement stores offer portable shelves that you can slide right into cabinets to give you extra vertical storage space. Placing a spice rack inside a small cupboard is another great way to create a little extra counter space and a lot bigger feel.
4. Be “counter” intuitive: Kitchens don’t come with instruction booklets telling you that certain things are always kept on counters or in cupboards. And yet, we often try to set up our kitchens according to some unwritten tradition that tells us that certain items can only go in certain places. Take mugs and short glasses for example. Instead of placing them in cupboards and on shelves like everyone else, placing them in a drawer may make better sense in a small kitchen. This simple trick could free up a shelf to accommodate a blender or toaster that’s been taking up valuable counter space.
5. Think outside the kitchen: The kitchen isn’t the only room in your house or apartment. But if it’s one of the smallest rooms, why not consider storing traditional kitchen items in other rooms or closets? You’ll free up more space, your kitchen will seem larger, and you’ll still have easy access to kitchen-specific items when and if you need them.
6. Find the right furnishings: If your kitchen area accommodates a table, finding the right furnishings to make your kitchen look and feel larger is important. A kitchen table and chairs with narrow legs helps create more open visual space. As far as color choices go, lighter furnishings will always make a room feel larger. The same “lighter is better rule” also applies to kitchen rugs, textiles and appliances.
7. Lighten up: One of the best ways to make a kitchen look and feel bigger is to paint the walls and cabinets with light colors. Semi-gloss paints are a good choice, as they reflect more light to make the kitchen seem even more open. To create the illusion of a higher ceiling, try painting the ceiling a shade or two lighter than the color of the walls. Letting more light in by keeping kitchen windows curtain-free will also help to make the kitchen look bigger.
David Glenn is a home improvement expert who writes about apartments, condos and homes. He likes to teach others how to improve their living conditions with a few simple tricks.