You might not be able to change a lot of things in your small kitchen, but you can do the next best thing: give the illusion of larger, more open, space. Breathe better, and move about with ease, with these six suggestions:
Low Contrast Color: Keep everything in the same color family, with minor variation. Light colors, or all white helps too. In the kitchen above, the cabinets and appliances blend in with the walls, and things feel more spacious than they actually are.
Elongated Patterns: Choose geometric and striped walls and floors that draw the eye lengthwise or vertically and make the room appear longer or taller than it actually is. Had the checked tile been laid squarely, versus on the diagonal, the floor of Liz & John's kitchen would have felt more stunted and chopped up. If you can't change the floor itself, add a patterned runner that will add the same effect.
Light Furnishings & Decor: Certain elements — like backless barstools, wire kitchen islands, or glass pendant lights for example — leave sight lines open and don't trip up your eye as you move around the room. Jevon's floating countertop, and mid century stools, do just that.
Shiny Surfaces: We talk a lot about using reflective mirrors strategically, but stainless steel appliances, glossy floors, satin paint, glass tiles, and sleek cabinets can also do the trick.
Open or Glass Shelving: Instead of traditional closed upper cabinets, follow Oliver and Sherrie's lead and go for storage that feels airy instead of bulky. Only (and I repeat only) do this if you aren't a tornado in the kitchen, and can keep everything neat and tidy.
Little Visual Clutter: This isn't just keeping things tidy and tucked away (although it's that too). It's about maintaining clean lines, without tons of overly decorative details. Avoid things like corbels and ornate cabinet pulls, and opt for a more minimalist look instead. The small metal hardware and modern cabinet fronts in Monique's kitchen keep things open and fuss free.
(Image credits: Bethany Nauert; Sherrie and Oliver ; Lindsey Kay Averill; Elle Interior; Adrienne Breaux; Monique Lavie's Minimal and Modern)