57 of the Very Best Small-Kitchen Ideas That Have Larger-than-Life Style

updated Jun 27, 2024
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So you’ve got a small kitchen. Whether it’s in a rental apartment or something to call your own, you might have a foot of counter space, a few kitchen cabinets, and maybe a wall to work with, if you’re lucky. Not a ton of room to get creative, but give us an inch and we’ll give you a mile of small-kitchen organization ideas and decorating inspiration. 

A tiny kitchen doesn’t mean you need to forgo cooking and live off of takeout — from kitchen storage ideas to smart shelving tips, you can make even the smallest kitchen work for your needs.

Here are 57 fabulous small-kitchen ideas chock-full of solutions and inspiration to help you jazz up your tiny space and keep you cooking in style.

Small-Kitchen Organization Ideas

Credit: Lana Kenney

1. Tap into your ceiling’s potential.

If you’ve run out of wall and counter space, look up. Your ceiling is often untapped (and full of potential). Try a heavy-duty ceiling pot rack or create a DIY one like the owners of this small kitchen in Cape Town, South Africa, who fashioned a hanging bar.

Credit: Julia Sahin

2. Use every square inch of space — yes, all of it.

The kitchen of this 300-square-foot London flat has no drawers. What to do? Take advantage of every single bit of available space — under the cabinets, the side of the range hood, above the backsplash.

“I put in all the hanging kitchen storage, wall shelves, magnetic knife rack, spice pots, and draining rack, and while the resulting space might still make a real cook cry, it’s a functional and appealing kitchen for me,” says homeowner Julia Sahin.

Credit: Stacy Keck

3. Use your sink and stove for extra space.

This renovated Airstream creates extra counter space by adding covers to the sink and stove. Owners Melanie and David Raver explain, “We made sure to maximize counter space by creating a walnut wood insert for the sink, made out of the same material as the countertops. When the sink is not in use we put the wood insert in, and it acts like a continued portion of the countertop. Our stove also has a top so when we are not using it, we close it and use it as counter space.”

4. Maximize your backsplash.

The backsplash is one of the most underutilized vertical spaces in the kitchen. Here, in the Montreal home of Marlène Deshaies, an additional shelf installed between the upper cabinets and the countertops makes room for an adorable collection of vintage dinnerware. When every little bit of space counts (or there’s a serious lack of cupboards), this is a smart way to make room for more.

Credit: Erin Derby

5. Utilize vertical space.

When you have a very tiny space, like Kayla Shannon in her 375-square-foot Brooklyn studio, you have to make use of all the wall space.

“It’s the size of a closet, but with a good coat of paint, a dish rack, shelves, and wall storage, it transformed,” Kayla said at the time of the tour.

6. Cop this cool DIY.

A place for everything, and everything in its place. That’s the idea behind this amazing DIY storage wall in the kitchen of this Seattle home. It holds several pots and pans, which would otherwise take up valuable cabinet real estate, and even has room for a chic home for spice jars. 

7. Try a copper bar.

Weren’t blessed with tons and tons of cabinetry to stash away all your pots and pans and other kitchen tools? Make your own fortune, instead! Take a cue from this vignette in a Seattle kitchen that uses a simple yet stunning copper bar to add hanging storage.

Credit: Minette Hand

8. Take advantage of skinny shelving.

Go vertical with skinny shelving to make use of even the smallest sliver of wall space, like in this Washington Heights kitchen. Store items you use the most on the easiest-to-reach shelves and use the higher ones for less frequently used items.

Small-Kitchen Storage Ideas

Credit: Liz Calka

9. Set up a pegboard for your pots and pans.

In this NYC studio, Grace used an industrial pegboard with hooks to store her pots and pans. It maximizes space and puts those shiny pans on display!

Credit: Erin Derby

10. Use the space above your kitchen cabinets.

In her modern New York City apartment, Christina Goldschmidt stored odds and ends in baskets above her kitchen cabinets. “Use all of the vertical height that you can. Hang things on your walls. Put baskets on top of your cabinets. Always try to go to the ceiling as much as you can,” Christina said during her tour.

11. Store a large pot on top of your stove.

Carving out creative storage is always on the top of our list of small kitchen ideas. Large items that would otherwise take up lots of space in your cabinet can be stored on top of your stove when not in use. Bonus points if they’re attractive, like the Dutch oven in this Cape Cod kitchen.

Credit: Lula Poggi

12. Incorporate built-in storage (bonus if there are storage perks!).

Having built-in storage is a major plus in small kitchens. But Tanit, who owns a minimal, modern Barcelona apartment, has a trick inside her built-ins. “I love the fact that the kitchen cabinets are all drawers, including the pantry. It’s not something that is very common, at least here in Spain, and it really makes finding that small spice jar and seeing what you’ve got in your pantry so much easier,” Tanit said at the time of the tour.

13. Organize with a magnetic spice rack.

If you have a small kitchen, you know how important it is to make use of every nook and cranny. The vertical magnetic spice rack in this Washington, D.C., tiny house is an ingenious idea to steal.

Credit: Tina Barisky

14. Hang frequently used tools on the inside of the cabinet door.

If your kitchen doesn’t have drawers, don’t fret! Take a tip from Tina Barisky, who lives in a 400-square-foot apartment. She hangs frequently used tools, like her measuring spoons and cups, on the inside of her cabinet doors. 

Credit: Erin Derby

15. Build DIY open shelving beside your existing cabinetry.

Rachael Harvey had only around 24 square feet of kitchen space to work with in her New York City studio rental apartment. Instead of taking up valuable real estate in the rest of her 275-square-foot home, she built DIY open shelving attached to the existing cabinetry. 

Small-Kitchen Decor Ideas

16. Lean into clear acrylic to create more space.

Kristyn’s California apartment was designed by her neighbor and friend Melissa. In her tour, she said, “The living/dining area was so tiny that I had a small panic attack when I moved in, but Melissa assured me we could make it work. Her solution to put the narrow, sleek pub table in with see-through stools was clever, functional, and aesthetically pleasing.”

17. Invest in hanging planters.

Haley and Michael’s Philadelphia home has a small kitchen, with a counter on one side and a dining nook on the other. Hanging planters leave room on the table to eat while providing a burst of green in the kitchen.

Credit: Lana Kenney

18. Make a statement on the floor.

Adding some major wow factor to an already impressive Cape Town kitchen, these geometric tiles take this space to new style heights. In a small room, tiles can make a serious design impact (and because you have less square footage, the price is far more approachable).

19. Go for the gloss.

Ultra-glossy kitchens tend to look a bit Euro-mod, but there’s no denying the reflective (read: light-bouncing) properties they offer. This inviting East Village kitchen brings shine, thanks to a glossy subway tile backsplash.

Credit: Layne Dixon

20. Don’t be afraid to go dark.

Opting for a dark kitchen cabinet color is a way to lean into the coziness of a smaller space. “I wanted to create drama, and what better way than through a dark paint color?” Jessica Blue said when Apartment Therapy toured her eclectic Chicago apartment

Credit: Andrew Bui

21. Customize with contact paper.

Gold contact paper makes these IKEA cabinets shine and brightens up this whole Brooklyn studio apartment. “Before I moved in I knew that every inch of the place needed purpose,” Kim White said at the time of the tour. “So I outfitted the kitchen with basic IKEA cabinets up to the ceiling to store kitchenwares as well as other less-used items that I needed to store. I found a roll of gold contact paper at Canal Plastics that I decided to cover the cabinets in to bounce light around the room.”

22. Embrace retro vibes.

The ’70s are alive and well in this retro Melbourne kitchen, which has a chartreuse color palette and simple cabinetry that gives off a groovy feeling. Should you have a small dated kitchen you’re not too happy about, try leaning harder into its era to really make the most of it.

23. Make a statement with your appliances.

When you have just a few cabinet doors and a small stretch of countertops, your best bet for making a decorative splash just might be your refrigerator, like in this Detroit kitchen.

Credit: Emma Fiala

24. Reimagine your kitchen tools as art.

Set against a rich black wall in this Minneapolis kitchen, this knife set fits perfectly with the existing matte textures — an effect that most certainly would be lost if hidden in a counter-hoarding butcher block.

Credit: Viv Yapp

25. Hang decorative plates.

Simple yet pretty, the decorative plates hung above the sink in this U.K. kitchen add a dash of color and whimsy in this small kitchen.

26. Go for the gold.

The gold foil decals adorning these cabinets in an Oakland kitchen are an unexpected choice, yes, but a worthwhile one. They add a fun glamorous touch, but require no commitment — if you get bored, simply peel them off and start fresh.

27. Add a curtain for a skirted cabinet.

If you have appliances that you want to hide or an open lower cabinet that could use a bit of personality, consider hanging a curtain. Imogen Woodage used an H&M curtain to mask the dishwasher in her colorful English home

28. Paint your lowers.

Maybe you’re looking for just a tiny bit of boldness to give your kitchen some personality. If so, consider taking a pointer from this fun and funky kitchen, which pairs white walls with emerald cabinets. The color pops, but isn’t so crazy that the owners of this Austin kitchen will regret the paint job in a year’s time.

Credit: Vero Suh

29. Take big color risks.

Michelle Trinh might only have around 100 square feet in the kitchen in her Parisian-inspired apartment, but that didn’t stop her from adding drama to the space. She used two bold paint colors that complement each other and make the space feel vibrant and warm. 

30. Choose a fun wallpaper.

You might have been warned to stick to solids in small spaces, but that’s not always the best advice. The vintage-inspired, pink patterned wallpaper in this Sydney apartment is as charming as it gets.

31. Keep the kitchen alive.

Plants are a great way to add freshness to a small, stagnant space and, in this Bay Area kitchen, their wild limbs add movement and motion to the area.

Credit: Emma Fiala

32. Let architectural details shine.

Rather than trying to cover up this aged brick (there are surely far, far worse problems in the world), this cozy Minneapolis kitchen made it part of its decor. Whether you have beautiful brick like this or reclaimed wood or vintage tile, consider sticking with it before making big changes.

Credit: Viv Yapp

33. Add playful touches.

In this super-small kitchen, a retro menu board adds a fun “greasy spoon” diner vibe to the wall. It adds just the right amount of kitsch without going overboard in this London kitchen.

Credit: Sandra Rojo

34. Add sheer draperies.

This one is particularly useful if you find yourself in a studio where every room kind of just spills into the next. Should you have a window in your teeny kitchen, consider adding draperies, which will invite the same coziness your living room offers, encasing you in purposeful design, just like this Barcelona apartment.

35. Create an accent wall to write home about.

The writing is definitely on the wall in this Connecticut kitchen, where a chalkboard-painted accent wall acts as a space to write daily mantras or to-do lists.

Credit: Yesi Laver

36. Add texture to your kitchen.

When Shenel and Hassan Shaikh moved into their organic modern Washington, D.C., apartment, the materials and colors in their existing kitchen felt “colder and less inviting.” So, they added texture by applying a removable beadboard to their otherwise bare kitchen bar. 

Credit: Layne Dixon

37. Paint your walls the same shade as your cabinets.

If you live in a rental apartment and want to make a bold change without worrying about upsetting your landlord too much, consider painting the walls (which can easily be swapped back) the same color as your cabinets. That’s what Brigette Haulenbeek did in her Parisian-inspired Chicago apartment, making the space feel elevated and spacious. 

Small-Kitchen Layouts

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

38. Hack a kitchen peninsula.

This pint-size Toronto kitchen really adds to its prep space with a DIY kitchen peninsula, which is fashioned from an IKEA TROFAST.

39. When space is tight, go long and narrow.

If you’re designing a kitchen space and you don’t have a lot of square footage, it’s always best to create a galley-style kitchen that’s long and narrow. This Chicago kitchen may have a small footprint, but it has tons of countertop and prep space to work with.

40. Add a small island when possible.

This tiny Los Angeles apartment didn’t offer much storage in the kitchen, so a small island with open shelving and a baker’s rack were brought in to remedy the lack of built-ins.

41. Cook up a dining area.

Sometimes, all you need to create a small dining area for one or two is a tiny table tucked in any open space you might have between cabinets and your appliances, like in this hyper-efficient (and totally lust-worthy) Los Angeles kitchen.

Lighting in a Small Kitchen

42. Opt for a flush-mounted light.

Flush-mounted lights, like the one used in this New York City studio, can be a great way to bring some light into a small kitchen towards the evening without taking up too much space — especially if the kitchen is low on natural light.

43. Go industrial.

Two large industrial-style pendant lights make quite the statement over this narrow kitchen island in this Portland kitchen.

44. Implement a chandelier.

Make even the smallest kitchen feel fancy by adding a chandelier or cool light fixture. The small chandelier in this 38-square-foot galley kitchen was a vintage piece from the owner’s grandmother. “I love to cook and thought I would go crazy having such a small kitchen, but it has become my favorite kitchen I’ve ever cooked in for its cozy efficiency,” says designer Ali McEnhill.

45. Use a statement bulb.

A hanging pendant bulb is simple yet elegant over this tiny kitchen area — and it most importantly doesn’t take away from the stunning waterfall marble countertops in this California space.

46. Don’t be afraid to go big.

This little kitchen looks downright grandiose, thanks to the large modern chandelier and the black statement wall in this Brooklyn brownstone.

47. Hang two lights.

We love the use of the decorative lighting in this small yet bright Los Angeles kitchen. While inset can lights could have been used, the double pendants add such a nice touch.

48. Add a semi-flush light.

The natural light in this Joshua Tree kitchen is enough to illuminate it throughout the day, but the simple semi-flush globe light in the corner will add just enough task lighting during the dinner routine.

49. Install lights underneath cabinets.

Adding adhesive lighting underneath your cabinets is a great way to brighten a space without taking up virtually any square feet. Diana Yen installed motion-sensor lights under the shelves in the pantry in her earthy Ojai home. They immediately added light, but were basically hidden. 

Small-Kitchen Pantries

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

50. Store pantry staples on an open shelf.

This Toronto kitchen demonstrates that even pantry staples can look decorative. If you lack a proper pantry, consider using glass jars to style often-used kitchen essentials.

Credit: Samara Vise

51. Add a baker’s rack.

A tiny pantry lacked the amount of storage that was needed in this Boston kitchen so the renters added in a baker’s rack to quadruple the pantry space.

52. Roll in more pantry storage.

Writer Nancy Mitchell lives in a small studio in Manhattan with very little storage space. She remedied that by bringing in a compact rolling cart, which acts as an island/pantry.

Credit: Anna Spaller

53. Add a piece of freestanding furniture.

A mere $300 transformed this rental kitchen (a feat we applaud regularly). And while there are many, many lessons to take away from this makeover, we love the freestanding sideboard, which can hold pantry staples, kitchen appliances, and serve as a prep space.

Small-Kitchen Nook Ideas

54. Add a round table for two.

A small round table is the perfect size for eating breakfast in the kitchen in this Chicago studio apartment.

55. Use built-in nooks to your advantage.

This sunny retro Los Angeles kitchen uses a small wall space to its advantage for a picture-perfect dining nook.

56. Create a nook on top of kitchen storage units.

This Copenhagen kitchen creatively makes a nook out of a kitchen storage unit, which helps to eke out every inch of space. To cozy things up, soft pillows and a throw are added.

57. Squeeze in a nook by the window.

Although this vibrant apartment in Los Angeles is larger than life, it’s actually only 650 square feet — so squeezing in a dining nook by the window in the galley kitchen was the only way to arrange an eating space comfortably.