Design A Small Kitchen With Big Style


Here in the Bay Area, I have the opportunity to work with spaces ranging from the very large to the very small. In the latter case, typically found in historical flats, townhomes and efficient apartments, the goal is to use design tips and know-how in order to maximize the visual and functional space – especially in the kitchen.

Nobody wants to work in or socialize in a cramped, boxed-in small kitchen so we use efficient layouts, lighting, luminescent materials and other design tricks to optimize the small space at hand.

Transform Your Small Kitchen Into an Efficient and Airy Delight

In this post, I’ll take you through some kitchen-specific tips for making a small space feel bigger so you can make the most of it.

Let’s look at the footprint – what’s making the kitchen small?

First stop along the remodeling trail, we’re going to explore what’s making your kitchen feel small. Is it the home’s footprint or original design? Galley kitchens were definitely ‘a thing’ in the 70s and 80s and that can take a perfectly good footprint and make it choppy. A poorly proportioned or designed kitchen island might be cramping your style, as will appliances that were installed in ridiculous locations or proximity.

Is there anywhere we can knock out or shorten a wall to expand the view? While you may not be able to create a completely open floor plan, we may have the chance to open it up quite a bit to the same effect.

Do you have a formal dining room? If so, do you actually use it more than a handful of times per year? Eliminating or re-thinking the formal dining room space might be just the thing for taking a small kitchen and making it more expansive.

Now it’s time to play with light

Daylighting – and smartly designed lighting for after hours – is one of the best ways to brighten up a space and make it feel bigger than it actually is. We’ll do our best to add windows, expand windows or add skylights and solar tubes. Often, with smarter cabinet design and interior storage solutions, you can eliminate a bank of cabinets on exterior walls and add a much-needed window.

If daylighting options aren’t available, we’ll get rid of any outdated, boxy ceiling lights and replace them with recessed cans on dimmers and barely-there but decorative pendants so you benefit from both task and ambient lighting options.

Time to consider the kitchen layout

Believe it or not, your small kitchen is not the enemy of functionality. Even the smallest kitchens will be completely functional when the layout matches the way occupants use them. When we meet, I’ll want to talk about how you use your kitchen on a daily basis. Who cooks there? How do they cook? Which appliances do you use most? Do you have kitchen helpers or is cooking a relatively solo affair? What drives you crazy about your current kitchen?

The answers to these and other questions will show us whether the existing layout actually suits the way the kitchen is used. If not, we’ll redesign it to accommodate you in a more personalized way. We’ll also take a look at your current kitchen organization. Cabinets customized for your storage needs will condense the amount of storage space you need, and this frees up wall and air space so the kitchen looks larger.

Time to discuss color and materials

Contrary to what you’ve heard, it’s entirely possible to design a small kitchen using darker finishes if you’re so inclined. So this isn’t a lecture on how small kitchens require light colors and finishes. However, it is a lecture about balance.

In order to make your kitchen feel more spacious and open, you’ll need to balance darker and lighter finishes and try to select lighter finishes that are luminous. For example, darker cabinets will be balanced by lighter quartz or granite countertops and glass or reflective backsplash tiles. Standard cabinet boxes should be balanced by some open shelving to free up the visual space.

You’ll be amazed at what a difference it will make when a professional interior designer comes on the scene. All of a sudden, your small, cramped kitchen will delightfully sufficient. Together, we’ll create a kitchen space that is beautiful, inviting and entirely functional – perfect for making meals and entertaining family and friends. Contact me here at Kristina Wolf Design to get started.

Bring Your Vision to Life

Kristina Wolf Design creates memorable interiors in harmony with your personal vision, with minimal stress. Whether it’s a new home interior or the perfect color palette for a paint project, we'll deepen the connection between you and your home while honoring your objectives, schedule and budget.

Contact Us

260 Alvarado Rd
Berkeley,CA 94705
(510) 848-8773
Kristina Wolf Design, Inc., Interior Decorators & Designers, Berkeley, CA