20 Ways to Make Your Small Kitchen Feel Larger

Small kitchens have never looked larger.
Tayler Tayler (63)
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As more and more people start buying homes at later ages, the number of people renting apartments is increasing, too. According to data compiled by the Deutsche Bank, the average age that people are buying homes in the United States is 47, a number that has significantly increased since 1981 when the average age was 31. As a result, people are turning to rent apartments and buy small houses across the country.

While there are many benefits to renting one's home, there are a collection of downfalls, namely being the limited amount of changes you can make to the space. This poses a problem for tiny spaces like the kitchen. Kitchens are, arguably, one of the most important rooms in your house, and they're one of the ones that you'll spend the most time in. This makes tiny kitchens inconvenient, difficult to work with, and sometimes an eyesore. To combat this, here are 20 different tips, tricks, and hacks so you can make your kitchen feel larger!

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A splash of color.

Using colors in your kitchen is a great way to easily enhance the space, especially with white being a commonly used color in kitchens. White is known for opening up spaces, which is why it's frequently used in rentals, but colors can be used to open up a space nicely. Colors, in fact, can help contrast the white to make it look brighter, cleaner.

If you opt for white paint or a backsplash of white tiles, you can use different colors as accent points to make the whites seem brighter and cleaner. Don't be afraid to incorporate accent colors like yellow, making an area appear sunnier, pale green, and teal. These colors will complement the white in your kitchen nicely!

Very yellow kitchen.

When incorporating colors in your kitchen, you mustn't go overboard. Adding too many colors will make your kitchen appear darker and smaller. The more colors and patterns you include in your kitchen, the more light will be absorbed by these colors and textures.

You already know that white reflects light, which means that black absorbs light. The same can be said of dark colors, too. Furthermore, when you walk into a small space that is occupied by a lot of textures and colors, your eyes don't know where to look first. This can give the room an indirect feeling of being cramped, making it appear much smaller. So as you set out to add color to the white of your kitchen, be careful to choose your colors carefully!

Glass cabinets doors.

An easy and passive way of adding more dimension to your kitchen is by installing cabinets with glass doors instead of solid ones is a fast and easy way to trick yourself into thinking your kitchen is larger than it is. It works like this: when you look into a kitchen with glass cabinets, the illusion of space is created as the space itself stretches deeper than the cabinet door.

The best way to make the most of your glass cabinets is by installing the panes of glass in lightly stained wood or cabinets that are painted a light color. Glass panes on dark cabinets aren't as effective. If the idea of showing off the contents of your cabinets doesn't appeal to you, however, you can always opt for glass panes with a frosted finish that hides your cabinets but still reflects light nicely.

Kitchen rug.

Rugs are a great way to make a room feel larger, especially if you like the sensation of softness under your feet. Rugs come in many different colors, shapes, sizes, fabrics — you name it, making finding the perfect rug for you and your design needs easy if you look hard enough.

While there are a ton of different patterns you can choose from, one such pattern that is ideal for making a small space feel larger is a rug with horizontal lines. Horizontal lines make your eyes move from side-to-side naturally which creates the illusion of a wider and more open space. Furthermore, horizontal lined patterns are easy to incorporate into a decoration style.

Kitchen lighting.

If your rental kitchen doesn't have access to natural lighting, incorporating more lights into your kitchen is a must. Not only will this shed light on you and your kitchen situation, but lights are a great way to open up an otherwise small and cramped space.

Most kitchens, rental or owned, come with an overhead light because we need light inside the kitchen. Few builders, however, are overly concerned with what kind of light is added. Because of this, many kitchens come with atrocious overhead lighting that is often either too dark or the wrong color for the space itself. Let's jump into how you can add lights to your kitchen.

Recessed lighting.

For starters, you don't want your lights standing in the middle of your kitchen, just as you wouldn't place a floor lamp in the middle of your living room, which is why you want to start introducing light by tucking your lamps into corners.

Using lamps is a quick and easy way of introducing lights into your kitchen as you just have to plug it into a socket and go. You can also find lamps in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors meaning you can pretty easily find something that suits your decor. Since kitchen corners are known to be cramped, opting for compact lighting options is ideal.

Under cabinet lights.

Speaking of compact lighting, installing lights on the bottom and top of your cabinets is a great way to add light without taking up space. While illuminating the underside of your cabinets might seem like a no-brainer, installing lights on the tops of your cabinets, if there is a space between the cabinet and the ceiling, is a great way to make the room seem taller.

Because the human eye is drawn naturally to the darkest points of a room, illuminating the upper cabinets is a quick way to draw the gaze upward. Coupled with the lights on the bottom, the light will fill those naturally darker areas, giving the impression of a larger kitchen. This can easily be accomplished by a set of LED light strips.

Recessed lights.

Recessed lighting is lighting that is installed directly into the ceiling, wall, or other surfaces, meaning there are no light fixtures to contend with. For small kitchens, recessed lighting allows you to completely open up space above your head. Light fixtures, while pretty and a fun decoration to pick out if you have lofted ceilings or an already large kitchen will only take up precious space. This makes recessed lights a good option for utilizing your space effectively.

Recessed lighting has an effect called wall washing. Wall washing is an effect that casts more light around the room when the right kind of trim is used and it allows the light to be more effectively distributed. Furthermore, recessed lighting is safer than hanging lights, too, as it is widely protected from dust, children, and general mishaps that hanging lights can be subject to.

Kitchen window.

There are many benefits to using artificial lighting to your advantage, especially if you're working with a room that doesn't have access to much natural light, but natural light accomplishes this with a lot more ease. Natural light makes a room look larger and less confined. The kitchen is no exception to this rule.

If you have a window in your kitchen, try to emphasize it as much as possible by skipping the curtains. Your natural instinct might be to place plants by it but try to find another window in a room that isn't as cramped as your kitchens.

Mirrors in kitchen.

Installing mirrors is a quick and easy way to open up the room and manipulate natural light into darker corners. Mirrors aren't an everyday staple in most kitchens but don't be afraid to play around with small mirrors fixed to the walls across from a window or even a long, slender one fixed to a bare wall in an adjacent dining room. An accent mirror design is a good way to add an artistic element to your room.

You're creating the illusion of depth as the mirrors will reflect the room around you. At a glance, these reflections will make it seem like the room extends into different corners. You'll also be able to use the mirror to redirect the light around the room, which also adds the appearance of a brighter, more open area, which brings us to our next piece of advice: using natural lighting.

Island counter.

If you have enough space to incorporate an island countertop in your kitchen configuration, opting for a lighter version isn't difficult. In fact, it's quite easy if you incorporate an open island design into your kitchen. Open islands are islands that are designed with open shelves, instead of closed off ones, which allows more light to pass through. It's a great way to include more working surfaces in your kitchen without cramping the space.

Kitchen islands are often considered a luxury and they're a great way to include a dining area without building a dining area in the space. They're versatile, coming in many different shapes and sizes, and they're often come with an area built into one side for stools and storage built into the other. If you want to incorporate an island into your kitchen, make sure you measure the space and account for the amount of area you'll need to travel around it.

Light weight stools.

You're probably thinking: What is lightweight furniture? Lightweight furniture, for the purpose of this guide, refers to furniture that is light both in weight and size. For example, if you have an island counter built into your kitchen, as many rentals do because this is a great way to save space over building a dining area, opting for more compact barstools is an easy way to furnish your space while keeping it light.

When it comes to finding the perfect barstool, there are several styles you can choose from. An easy choice is the classic stools that don't have backs to them or stools supporting the lower back. Stools that aren't made of solid materials or that have shapes cut into the back is an easy way to keep everything open, too.

Expandable dining table.

If you're adamant about having a dining table in your small kitchen, using a drop-leaf dining table in place of a full-sized one is a good way to save space. Drop-leaf dining tables are tables that can expand in size, either by the table expanding to allow an extra slab of a table, called a leaf, to be secured between two points or by having sides that can be folded down.

Drop-leaf tables are great for small spaces, especially for people who like to entertain from time to time. The unused sides can be pushed against the wall so the table isn't encroaching on valuable kitchen space while still providing you with a place to dine.

Built-in stove.

Picking appliances for your kitchen can be a daunting task, especially when you're worried about space. After all — your appliances are one of the bulkiest things you can incorporate in your kitchen. Not only will you be cooking or cleaning with them for a large portion of your kitchen experience, but they'll dominate your gaze as one of the most important staples in your kitchen. So, what can you do to make bulky appliances seem smaller?

The simple and easy answer is built-in appliances! Built-in appliance includes appliances like your refrigerator, dishwasher, oven, and even your microwave being installed in such a way that it looks like they're installed right into the kitchen cabinets themselves. While a costly and time-consuming endeavor, as you'll have to build the appliance into the cabinet system, built-in appliances create a smooth and seamless transition between surfaces. The smoother, the better, as your gaze won't be drawn to the appliances themselves.

Single-bowl sink.

A double-bowl sink, also referred to as a double sink, was popular before dishwashers were invented because the two sinks made for easy dishwashing, with one side serving as a rinsing area and the other side serving as the washing area. Double sinks also offer a place directly for drying racks, but what double sinks do, however, is make the area and surrounding area of your sink look smaller. If making your kitchen area larger is your priority, opt for a single-bowl sink.

Single-bowl sinks are easier to fit into small spaces because they're, by nature, smaller. Double-bowl sinks have to contend with fitting two sizable bowls into a cramped space, which can become difficult, especially if space is your concern. Single-bowl sinks offer more space in a smaller space because you're working from one large bowl instead of two small ones.

Stainless steel in a small kitchen.

When it comes to outfitting your kitchen with appliances, try and install monochromatic and metallic appliances. Monochromatic appliances, or appliances that are a single shade, will be unified in color across the room, meaning the eye won't be too focused on any point in particular. While most appliances have a metallic finish, stainless steel finishes can help expand your kitchen.

Stainless steel finishes are very durable. They're highly resistant to corrosion and, while you might not have to worry about corrosion in the kitchen, this makes stainless steel appliances durable to daily wear-and-tear. They're also shiny, which is useful for reflecting light.

Shelves built up.

It's easy to forget just how much space is lost on the expanses of bare walls above the counters of our kitchens, especially if you're starting bare-bones, without any wall cabinets or shelves installed. Your first thought might be to leave the walls bare to create the illusion of space, but building vertically is a great way to have storage and keep your space looking large.

Sometimes we need to get creative about how we use the space in our kitchens — particularly our small ones! When all space matters, even vertical is important, too. Let's take a look at a few different ways you can expand vertically.

Open shelf.

Floating shelves are a quick and easy way to open up a room while providing plenty of storage for you to stack your plates, bowls, and drinkware neatly. Because they're relatively easier to install than standard cabinets, floating shelves are a great way to add dimension to a small kitchen if you're eager to finish the task. They're also customizable, the same way cabinets are, and can be painted and styled in many different ways.

Floating shelves pose a similar problem to cabinets with glass doors in that they draw the gaze to them. This means that over-cluttered or dirty shelves will only serve to over-crowd your kitchen. If you opt for floating shelves, you'll have to work harder to keep them clean.

Small kitchen.

If you're working with a small space, it's important to scale down the size of your furniture if possible. You probably wouldn't want to fit a large, six-burner stove in a kitchen that's only a few feet wide because that stove would take up more of the kitchen than necessary, making the space seem a lot smaller than it is. The same goes for most other furniture in it.

When you go to furnish a room, it's all about proportions and fitting proper furniture within those proportions. Make sure you're scaling your appliances and counter space to fit the kitchen you have, not the kitchen you want.

Small kitchen.

When it comes to moving into a small space, finding a proper place for your appliances, food, and utensils is a key component in making your kitchen feel larger. Put it this way: if your counters are completely cluttered and you have no idea where anything is, being in the kitchen, let alone cooking in the kitchen, can become a difficult and impossible task. Utilizing the space you have is the best and easiest way to make your kitchen feel larger.

As you set out to settle into a new space, spend some time looking at the space you're working with. Take note of your counter space, your cabinet space, and carefully decide where everything will go. Keep this in mind: the fewer items you have on your countertops, the larger the space will appear. This brings us to the next and most important part of making sure you're utilizing your space: the organization.

Organized cabinets.

If you take anything away from this guide, take this away: organizing your kitchen is the best way to make it feel larger. If everything has a place, you'll be less inclined to set something down where it doesn't belong. Not only will this help you keep it clean in the long run, but it will encourage you to think about how you can use the space properly.

Since you want to keep things organized from a face-value perspective (clean counters are a must), making sure you're using the space in your cabinets and drawers is extremely important. Luckily, there are a few easy things you can do to accomplish this.

Tension rods.

Do you have a bunch of baking sheets taking up an abnormal amount of space in your cabinets? Baking sheets and dishes, while convenient and frequently used by the average person in the kitchen, can be extremely cumbersome to organize, especially if you're already working with limited space.

An easy way to store your sheets is by using tension rods. Tension rods placed vertically on a cabinet shelf creates little slots that will hold your sheets in place. The great news is that you can easily adjust the spacing of the tension rods at any time so if you get a new sheet or pan that you want to cluster with similar ones, you'll be able to do so.

Plates and bowls.

Most people stack their plates and bowls inside their cabinets, which is an okay way of storing tableware, but there are better, easier ways to store them, especially if you're trying to use all the space that you can. Thankfully, you have a few different options for storing these necessities.

For starters, you can use a small shelf to create smaller levels that allow you to safely double-stack your dishes, letting you better utilize the space you have in your cabinets. You could also use the same tension rods you used for your baking sheets to stack your sheets vertically or use a plate rack stand. Either way, you have options!

Organized drawers.

Keeping your drawers organized and tidy is a good way to ensure you're keeping as many things as possible from your counters, which is a large component of making your kitchen appear larger than it is. Kitchen drawers come in many different shapes and sizes, which means you can control your cabinets and drawers' size. Once you have that size in mind, there are ways for you to organize your drawers, so they stay nice and tidy.

Things like utensil organizers for your drawers and little compartments and box organizers are great ways to ensure your items are staying where they're meant to. Don't be afraid to get creative with how you organize your drawers — you can use specialty purchased storage boxes or repurpose any boxes you come across in your online shopping!

Deep drawers.

When it comes to accumulating small but bulky appliances, no room does this better than the kitchen. Between the toasters, food processors, crock pots, coffee pots, French presses, compost containers, and blenders, it's no wonder that our counters and cabinets fill up quickly, leaving us to pack our surfaces full of clutter. To combat this problem, deep cabinet drawers can house your appliances.

If you have drawers already installed that are capable of holding your appliances, you're in luck because you'll be able to lift them onto the countertops when you intend to use them. If you have the space, you could always install a large drawer that can be pulled out for easy access. Deep drawers are a great addition to your kitchen because the organizational options are so vast.

Dish racks.

There are plenty of normal kitchen items that you can find on the market that are also collapsible, which means that once they're used, they can be broken down into a more compact size and slipped into a corner. Thanks to the development of several standard kitchen staples, durable collapsible kitchen items aren't hard to come by.

Things like collapsible food storage containers are a great way to save space inside your cabinets. Collapsible drying racks for your dishes can be folded down and tucked beneath the sink once the dishes are dry. Even foldable travel kettles can be used if you're really determined to keep your countertops uncluttered. There are plenty of options on the market; you have to do some research to find some good ones.

Organization hooks.

You already know that clutter on countertops can make kitchens look smaller than they are, especially your sink area, which is often surrounded by paper towels, dish and hand soap, brushes, and whatever cleaning solution you happen to keep close by. These items can draw unnecessary attention to the sink area, which can be distracting.

Instead of letting these kitchen necessities take up eye space in your kitchen, install hooks or a small rack on the inside of your cabinet doors. You can hang things from the rack like spray bottles or a washcloth. Installing hooks on the doors will allow you to hang brushes, sponges, and other cleaning supplies from them. Out of sight, out of mind!

Geometric tile.

Geometric patterns can offer a pop of pattern and color in any space. While these patterns are considered busy, they can also create the illusion of space, particularly when used sparingly and as accents. Not only do geometric patterns make for eye-catching and popular additions to a small space, but you can use them in many ways.

A geometric tile backsplash on a wall behind your counters can give the illusion of the room stretching upward. Subway style tiles can open up an area, and a black accent row of tiles can stretch the room horizontally. If installing a tiled backsplash isn't within the budget, a geometric rug or floor runner can create the same illusion in a different way.

Ceiling beams.

Drawing the gaze upwards is a vital component of making a room seem larger, and what better way to accomplish that than by installing a pattern or a texture on the ceiling. This may seem daunting — installing something on the ceiling? This can be as simple as installing planked wood or beams or etching a drywall pattern. It'll be difficult, but patterns on the ceiling can be a great way to draw the gaze upward, which will elongate any room upward if you choose your patterns to suit the space.

The easiest of these that will give you a pattern without overcrowding your potentially limited kitchen space is to install slender beams across the ceiling. If your kitchen is shaped like a rectangle, the best pattern to install is thin beams that cross horizontally, longwise. Since horizontal lines draw the gaze across, it gives the illusion of space.

Clean counters.

This piece of advice works best as a prophylactic, which means that you're going to want to focus on cleaning as you go to avoid unnecessary clutter building up in the corner of your kitchen. Since the kitchen has so many surfaces, it's easy to let clutter build up over time. Clutter and anything too busy can make a room seem smaller and more cramped.

To avoid this, you're going to have to clean and organize as you go. After every meal, try and clean up any dishes you used and put them away after they're clean. Keep your mixing bowls, utensils, and most everything else tucked away in drawers and cabinets, or at least up off the counters if you have open shelving. Some clutter is okay — but avoid the extensive collections.