Small Kitchen Survival Secrets

Produced by Architectural Digest with The Home Depot.
No square-footage? No problem. Here’s how to live large no matter how little your space is.

If the kitchen is the heart of the home, it would appear that many houses and apartment dwellings might benefit from a little life support. From awkward layouts to minimal real estate, lots lack even the most basic necessities for everyday living, let alone entertaining friends and family for weekend get-togethers or holiday celebrations. But there are plenty of ways to make a small kitchen work for you, no matter how limited you are in the square-footage department—and we’re not talking about spending thousands on a major renovation, though if you have the funds by all means go for it. From tricks to make every corner more functional to ideas for maximizing storage, here are seven tips for surviving in a small kitchen.

Color block your way to the appearance of more space.

It’s no secret that painting a room white can make it look bigger. Double down on that idea by keeping your upper cabinetry and backsplash the same shade as walls, and matching lower cabinetry to your appliances. The simplified palette tricks the eye into seeing less clutter.

Be wary of open shelving.

A streamlined aesthetic helps make small spaces feel more expansive, but if you love the look of open shelving, less is more. Group similar shapes and colors for a uniform approach that won’t feel chaotic. You can even choose a hanging system for mugs and wine glasses.

Keep a low profile.

Avoid seating with high backs or extra bulk and opt instead for stools that can tuck away beneath a countertop.

Add an island.

If your kitchen layout allows for it, install a rolling cart or stationary island to provide additional counter space and hidden storage for toasters, coffeemakers, and other eyesores. Bonus points if you can also use it as a dining surface.

Make every last inch functional.

Survey your room and see where you can add extra storage, from installing bite-size cabinetry on the wall above a window to converting the space beneath a windowsill into a bench with a concealed compartment.

Look up.

Instead of hanging pendants above a kitchen island, consider adding a pot rack, which can help save precious cabinetry real estate for unsightly items while creating an attractive space to display cookware.

Find a place to reflect.

You already know that mirrors can bounce light around a room—so install one on a wall or backsplash opposite a window for maximum effect—but you can reap the same benefits by applying a lacquered finish to cabinetry or even on your kitchen’s ceiling.