10 Ways to Make a Small Kitchen Look Bigger

Imagine stepping into a kitchen that feels cramped and cluttered, where cooking feels more like a chore than a joy. Now, imagine transforming that same space into a light, airy, and inviting area where you can cook, dine, and entertain with ease.


Small kitchens can often feel limiting, but with the right strategies, you can make them look and feel much larger. Whether you’re dealing with a galley kitchen in an apartment or a compact space in a cozy home, there are numerous ways to maximize your kitchen’s potential. In this article, we’ll explore ten effective ways to make a small kitchen look bigger, offering practical tips and creative ideas to help you enhance both its functionality and aesthetic appeal.

Optimize Your Layout

Open Shelving

One of the most effective ways to open up a small kitchen is to replace traditional cabinets with open shelving. This simple swap can make a significant difference, as open shelves create an illusion of more space by allowing you to see all the way to the back wall. Additionally, open shelves can add a modern, stylish touch to your kitchen.

  • Pros and Cons: While open shelving can make your kitchen look more spacious and stylish, it also requires more organization and cleanliness. Everything on the shelves is on display, so it’s essential to keep items tidy and aesthetically pleasing.
  • How It Opens Up Space: By removing the visual barrier of cabinet doors, open shelving makes the walls recede, creating a sense of depth.
  • Tips for Styling: Use a mix of decorative items and everyday essentials. Store frequently used items like plates and bowls on lower shelves for easy access, and place decorative pieces higher up.

Multi-Functional Furniture

In a small kitchen, every inch counts. Multi-functional furniture can help you make the most of limited space by serving multiple purposes. Consider investing in pieces like a kitchen island that doubles as a dining table or a fold-out table that can be stowed away when not in use.

  • Examples: Look for kitchen islands with built-in storage, foldable tables, or bar carts that can serve as additional prep space and storage.
  • Benefits: These pieces maximize functionality without adding clutter, providing both storage and workspace in one compact unit.

Compact Appliances

Large, bulky appliances can overwhelm a small kitchen. Opt for compact versions of essential appliances to free up space and create a more streamlined look.

  • Recommendations: Consider a slimline dishwasher, a smaller fridge, or a microwave that doubles as an oven.
  • Choosing the Right Appliances: When selecting compact appliances, ensure they meet your needs without sacrificing too much functionality. Look for models that are designed specifically for small spaces, offering the same features as their larger counterparts in a more compact form.

Use Light and Color Effectively

Light Colors for Walls and Cabinets

Light colors can make any space feel larger and more open. In a small kitchen, using light hues on walls and cabinets can dramatically change the feel of the room.

  • Psychological Effects: Light colors reflect more light, which can make a space feel more airy and open. They also create a clean, fresh look that can brighten up even the darkest corners of your kitchen.
  • Popular Choices: Whites, soft grays, and pastels are excellent choices for small kitchens. These colors create a neutral backdrop that can make the room feel more spacious.

Reflective Surfaces

Incorporating reflective surfaces is another excellent way to make a small kitchen look bigger. Reflective materials bounce light around the room, enhancing the sense of space.

  • Benefits: Reflective surfaces, such as glossy tiles, stainless steel appliances, and glass backsplashes, can amplify natural and artificial light, making the kitchen feel brighter and more expansive.
  • Ideas: Consider a high-gloss finish for cabinets, a mirrored backsplash, or polished countertops to achieve this effect.

Natural and Artificial Lighting

Good lighting is crucial in any kitchen, but it’s especially important in a small space. Adequate lighting can make the room feel larger and more welcoming.

  • Maximizing Natural Light: If possible, enhance natural light by keeping windows unobstructed. Use sheer curtains or blinds that can be fully opened during the day.
  • Best Types of Artificial Lighting: Use a mix of ambient, task, and accent lighting. Under-cabinet lights can illuminate countertops, pendant lights can provide focused light over work areas, and recessed ceiling lights can create an even, overall brightness.

Smart Storage Solutions

Vertical Storage

When floor space is limited, look to the walls. Vertical storage can significantly increase your storage capacity without taking up valuable floor space.

  • Utilizing Wall Space: Install shelves, pegboards, or magnetic strips to store utensils, pots, and pans.
  • Creative Solutions: Use hooks to hang mugs, install a pot rack above an island, or add high cabinets that reach the ceiling for storing less frequently used items.

Drawer Organizers and Pull-Out Shelves

Drawer organizers and pull-out shelves can help you make the most of every inch of storage space in your small kitchen.

  • Maximizing Space: Drawer organizers keep utensils and small items neatly arranged, making it easier to find what you need. Pull-out shelves provide easy access to items at the back of cabinets, reducing clutter and improving organization.
  • Products and DIY Ideas: Look for adjustable drawer dividers, spice racks, and custom pull-out shelving solutions that can be installed in existing cabinets.

Corner Units and Lazy Susans

Corners can be challenging to utilize effectively, but with the right solutions, they can offer valuable storage space.

  • Making the Most of Corners: Corner units with pull-out shelves or rotating trays (lazy Susans) make it easy to access items stored in hard-to-reach areas.
  • Advantages: These units maximize corner space, allowing you to store more items without crowding the rest of the kitchen.

Minimalism and Decluttering

Adopt a Minimalist Approach

Embracing a minimalist approach in your kitchen can create a more open, airy feel. Focus on keeping only what you need and love, and eliminate unnecessary items.

  • Principles of Minimalism: Keep surfaces clear, choose simple, functional designs, and limit the number of items on display.
  • Benefits: A minimalist kitchen is easier to clean and maintain, and the lack of clutter can make the space feel larger and more serene.

Decluttering Tips

A clutter-free kitchen is essential for making a small space feel bigger. Here are some practical tips to help you declutter effectively:

  1. Start Small: Tackle one drawer or cabinet at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  2. Sort and Purge: Separate items into categories—keep, donate, and discard. Be ruthless about getting rid of things you don’t use or need.
  3. Organize: Use storage solutions like bins, baskets, and drawer dividers to keep items organized and easy to find.

Maintaining a Clutter-Free Kitchen

Once you’ve decluttered, it’s important to keep your kitchen organized to maintain the illusion of space. Regularly review your kitchen items and remove anything that’s no longer needed.

Optical Illusions and Design Tricks

Using Vertical Lines and Patterns

Vertical lines and patterns can draw the eye upward, creating the illusion of height and space in a small kitchen.

  • Elongating the Space: Vertical stripes on walls, tall cabinets, and vertically-oriented tiles can make the room feel taller and more spacious.
  • Pattern Ideas: Consider using wallpaper with vertical stripes, installing beadboard panels, or arranging tiles in a vertical pattern.

Transparent Elements

Incorporating transparent elements can help maintain a sense of openness in your kitchen.

  • Benefits of Glass and Clear Furniture: Glass cabinet doors, clear bar stools, and acrylic chairs can make the space feel less crowded and more open.
  • Design Ideas: Use glass-front cabinets to display attractive dishes, or choose a clear dining table to reduce visual clutter.

Flooring and Backsplash Choices

Continuous Flooring

Using the same flooring throughout the kitchen and adjoining rooms can create a seamless look that makes the space feel larger.

  • Creating a Flow: Continuous flooring eliminates visual barriers, making the entire area appear more spacious.
  • Best Flooring Options: Hardwood, laminate, and vinyl are excellent choices for continuous flooring. Choose light colors and large planks to enhance the effect.

Strategic Backsplash Designs

A well-chosen backsplash can add depth and interest to your kitchen without overwhelming it.

  • Enhancing Depth: Use materials like glass or mirrored tiles to reflect light and create a sense of space.
  • Creative Ideas: Opt for a subtle, monochromatic backsplash that blends with the rest of the kitchen, or choose a pattern that draws the eye upward.

Incorporate Technology

Smart Storage Solutions

Modern technology offers innovative storage solutions that can help you make the most of your small kitchen.

  • Introduction to Smart Systems: Smart storage systems include automated pantry organizers, motorized shelves, and other high-tech solutions designed to maximize space and improve functionality.
  • Examples and Benefits: Products like motorized pull-down shelves and app-controlled pantry systems can enhance convenience and efficiency in your kitchen.

Space-Saving Gadgets

Compact, multi-use kitchen gadgets can save space while still providing all the functionality you need.

  • Highlighting Gadgets: Look for items like multi-cookers, foldable cutting boards, and collapsible measuring cups.
  • Recommendations and Reviews: Provide a list of recommended space-saving gadgets and their benefits, based on reviews and personal experiences.


In conclusion, making a small kitchen look bigger involves a combination of smart design choices, strategic use of color and light, and efficient storage solutions. By optimizing your layout, using light colors and reflective surfaces, incorporating vertical storage, and embracing a minimalist approach, you can transform a cramped kitchen into a spacious, welcoming area. Remember to make use of optical illusions, choose continuous flooring and strategic backsplashes, and incorporate modern technology to further enhance the sense of space. With these ten strategies, you can create a kitchen that not only looks bigger but also feels more functional and enjoyable to use. So, start implementing these tips today and enjoy the transformation of your small kitchen into a bright, open, and inviting space.

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