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

updated Nov 28, 2023
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So you’ve got a tiny 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

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.

2. Store small appliances outside your cabinets.

Don’t take up valuable counter real estate with bulky items like your toaster or microwave. Place them on a small kitchen cart to keep them handy, like this Washington Heights kitchen. You can also save much-needed cabinet space by storing bulky items like a stand mixer or slow cooker here, too.

Credit: Julia Sahin

3. 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.

Says homeowner Julia Sahin, “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.”

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 the 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,” Shannon says.

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. 

Credit: Tamara Gavin

7. Use window sills for storage.

What are the best small kitchen ideas when display places are at a premium? The kitchen window sill, of course! Whether it’s collectibles, small plants, spices, or anything else that fits, your kitchen window is a great place to display some of your favorite items. Just stick with a few, like this Asheville home, to avoid it looking cluttered. 

8. 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

9. 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.

10. Use the space above your kitchen cabinets.

Use the space above your kitchen cabinetry to store large serving dishes, extra pantry items, cookbooks, or anything else you need a spot for.  “Let go of where things are ‘supposed’ to go,” says Raechel Lambert, who lives in a Hell’s Kitchen studio. “In a studio, things go wherever they can fit. We have a huge refrigerator, so we use it to store dry goods even though they don’t need to be kept cold.”

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.

12. Incorporate built-in storage.

The kitchen in this small Australian apartment might be tiny, but the floor-to-ceiling built-in storage easily helps this micro space hold everything it needs.

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 a genius idea to steal.

14. Add under-the-shelf wine glass storage.

Wine glasses are bulky and take up valuable cabinet space — so it only makes sense to move them out. The renter of this New Orleans apartment smartly moves them underneath the cabinet, which would otherwise be a dead space.

Small Kitchen Decor Ideas

Credit: Lana Kenney

15. 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).

16. 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 it offers. This inviting East Village kitchen brings shine thanks to a glossy subway tile backsplash.

17. Don’t be afraid to go dark.

Who says small spaces shouldn’t go dark? The black on white color scheme in this bohemian LA kitchen feels bold and gives the space some personality, while also being visually cohesive. The funky mat from Society6 adds an artistic flair that ties all the different decor together, including the brown laminate that this renter couldn’t change.

Credit: Andrew Bui

18. 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,” says Kim White. “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.”

Credit: Lula Poggi

19. Keep a consistent color palette.

Rather than committing to painting your cabinets or choosing a colorful appliance, infuse color through your accessories, like in this Los Angeles kitchen space, which features light blue and red accents.

20. Embrace retro vibes.

The ’70s are alive and well in this retro Melbourne kitchen, whose chartreuse color palette and simple cabinetry give 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.

21. Mix artwork with the culinary arts.

This homeowner didn’t let size get in the way of showcasing artwork in this teeny Oakland kitchen. In fact, he took the opportunity to let oversized art shine.

22. 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

23. 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

24. Hang decorative plates.

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

25. Use a clip for artwork.

When wall space is at a premium, you may need to get creative with how you hang your artwork. We love the idea of using a clip to hold photographs, like in this Airstream kitchen.

26. See your kitchen through rose-colored glasses.

If you’re hesitant to go full-on bold with a bright or deep color (but really want something different), perhaps you might consider just a hint of a color like the barely blush wall color in this Australian kitchen that’s housed in a backyard shed.

27. 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.

28. Add a curtain for a skirted cabinet.

An easy way to add a cottagecore vibe to your small kitchen is to install a small curtain over a lower cabinet, like in this Spanish kitchen. Bonus points: If you have a missing door or an open shelf, a skirted cabinet will hide any visual clutter.

29. 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.

30. Take big color risks.

This little space takes some big risks that have huge style payoffs. From the bold yellow cabinetry to the blue accent wall, it’s easy to overlook the pint-sized floor plan of this boldly colored space.

31. 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.

32. 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

33. 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.

34. Hang plants from the ceiling

Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to sacrifice your favorite plants because you have a microscopic kitchen. Simply hang them from the ceiling, as shown in this adorably trendy LA home

35. 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

36. 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.

37. 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.

38. Go bold or go home.

This eclectic Austin kitchen is not for the faint of heart, but aside from its bold paint choice it also makes smart use of the empty space above the stove, by using it to house liquor and cookbooks, which probably don’t get daily use.

Small Kitchen Layout

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

39. 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.

40. 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.

41. Add a small island when possible.

This tiny L.A. 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.

42. 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

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. Says designer Ali McEnhill,  “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.”

45. Simplify with a schoolhouse light.

This small San Francisco kitchen incorporates big style with this white schoolhouse-style pendant, which illuminates the tiny dining table.

46. 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.

47. 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.

48. Hang two lights.

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

49. 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.

Small Kitchen Pantry

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

50. Store pantry staples on an open shelf.

This Toronto kitchen demonstrates that even pantry staples can look like 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.

Apartment Therapy writer Nancy Mitchell lives in a small studio in Manhattan with very 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 eek out every inch of space. To cozy things up, soft pillows and a throw are added.

57. Squeeze in a nook by the window.

Though 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.