7 Things Making Your Kitchen Feel So Much Smaller, According to Real Estate Agents

published Nov 1, 2020
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When it comes to home renovations, kitchens are a favorite space to make over. But if you simply want to make your kitchen look and feel bigger, you probably don’t need to commit to a full-on revamp that involves knocking down walls. A little decluttering and a few design tricks can work wonders in opening up your kitchen.

Here are seven things that real estate agents say make your kitchen feel so much smaller.

Cluttered countertops

The coffee maker. The toaster. The toaster oven. The mixer. The air fryer! Too many gadgets, plus a bunch of cookbooks, can quickly clutter your countertops and make your space feel small, says Talia McKinney, a New York City real estate agent with the Serhant Team of Nest Seekers International.

While it may make sense to, say, let your knife block or coffee maker stay out, the other lesser-used appliances probably aren’t deserving of the prime real estate on your countertops. If you’re not using these small appliances on a daily basis, and you’ve got the cupboard space, stash them away. Real estate agents also suggest putting away the mail, takeout menus, and knick knacks that crowd your countertops—once they’re gone, you’ll notice the space feels more open. 

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Too much artwork 

It’s not just your cluttered countertops that are a culprit of making your kitchen feel crowded. Decluttering your wall space can also open up your kitchen, says Katherine Kranenburg, a Massachusetts-based realtor with Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty. Her suggestion? Curate your art to one scalable or large print to draw the eye to one place. 

Hanging pots and pans 

“When pots and pans are hanging from center islands, it makes the whole space feel smaller,” says Sue Long of the Sue Long Realty Group in Corvallis, Oregon. If you don’t have ample storage space, here are some more streamlined solutions for hanging pots and pans

Dim lighting 

Natural and bright lights will make the space feel more open and airy than dimmed lights, says Ashley Baskin, a real estate agent who serves on the advisory board for Home Life Digest. Heavy, dark curtains can also overwhelm a kitchen, she says. Let that natural light in; your indoor garden will appreciate it, too. (Here are some modern and unique lighting ideas for your kitchen, if you’re on hunt.)

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A cramped layout

If you’re redesigning your kitchen, keep the traffic patterns of the space in mind, suggests New York City broker Gerard Splendore with Warburg Realty. If it’s impossible to maneuver around a dishwasher or oven when it’s opened, the kitchen plan isn’t just cramped but also inefficient and dangerous. “Similarly, be aware of refrigerator doors, cabinet, and pantry doors that open into walkways or bump into each other when open.” 

Dark cabinets

Replacing solid cabinet doors with glass-front doors can add visual depth, tricking the eye into thinking the kitchen is more spacious, says real estate broker Matthew Martinez with Diamond Real Estate Group in the San Francisco Bay Area. “Your gaze is drawn into the cabinet rather than stopped at the door, which creates the illusion of space,” he says. 

A busy backsplash

While backsplashes are on trend, the busy ones don’t usually make sense in smaller kitchens, says Hillary Deck of Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty in Austin, Texas. A classic white subway tile, on the other hand, works well in a smaller kitchen, she says.

Need some more inspiration? Here are 15 kitchen makeovers from Apartment Therapy readers.