10 Small Kitchen Ideas to Maximise Space: How to Make the Most of a Tiny Kitchen

Tidy, modern looking kitchen with no clutter on countertops. White walls and carrera marble counters with glass front upper cabinets.

Last Updated on 15/04/2022

Mini apartments, studio flats and bedsits, and tiny houses are all on trend. And then there are the regular abodes that are just plain small. Often touted as “starter homes,” it can be tough to not feel cramped after a couple of years in. One of the biggest pain points for renters and homeowners alike is figuring out how to make the most of a small kitchen. The good news though is that there are many small kitchen ideas out there to maximise space. Lots of them are really easy to implement and can make a tiny space look and feel more roomy.

What are the best colour schemes for tiny kitchens? How do you make a small kitchen look and feel bigger? What’s the best way to organise small kitchens? And how can you maximise small kitchen storage space?

Let’s have a look at some clever small space solutions for the kitchen, and the best small kitchen ideas to maximise storage space.

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Update Your Lighting

One of the easiest small kitchen ideas to maximise space is to update your lighting. How does that create more space, you ask? It’s an optical illusion. A brightly lit, tidy space will make the area appear larger.

Switch out your old bulbs and fixtures for energy-efficient options and more modern lighting styles. Having well-lit spaces will also make it easier to cook and clean. Prepping food, cooking, and doing the dishes in a poorly lit kitchen is a drag. Plus it’s hard on your eyes.

Integrate Appliances in Cabinetry

Concealing your kitchen appliances is a huge win in a tiny space. It will make the space look instantly tidy and uniform, and give it a streamlined look. Custom finishes or ready-made panels for e.g. Ikea modular kitchens are available to match the overall cabinetry and blend in. Opting for a built-in look minimises the clunky look of appliances and because everything is flush, the entire kitchen looks seamless and cohesive, and thus larger and cleaner.

If you’re remodeling and have the opportunity to upgrade your appliances, keep your eyes peeled for smart appliances that can do double duties. Some microwaves, for example, come with an integrated ventilation hood and can be installed over the stove top. You can also opt for under-countertop appliances. Dishwashers and fridges come in pull-out drawer versions and can be very practical if your small kitchen is squeezed under the pitch of a roof, for example.

Keep it Minimal

Less really is more in a tiny space. You might want to opt for invisible hardware, i.e. handleless cabinet fronts, for a streamlined look. Hide your waste bins beneath the kitchen sink, along with your cleaning supplies.

Don’t forget to keep those countertops cleared! Keeping clutter to the minimum is a sure fire way to make a small kitchen look more spacious. Plus, you’ll have far more room for actual food prep and cooking.

Keep the Upper Cabinets Light

I’m not a fan of open shelving in the kitchen after having had it for many years. Unless your open shelves are pretty much empty save a solitary decorative vase, they can get really dirty and are a pain in the neck to keep clean. You can still achieve a similar effect though with light-coloured cabinetry and glass front cabinets. Keeping things visually light will open up the space in a small kitchen and make it appear more airy.

No Pantry? Use Mason Jars & Dead Space

Many of us don’t have a pantry in the kitchen. What to do with all those dried goods? I keep my frequently used goods in glass jars on top of a lower cabinet. They’re super easy to clean, look good, and I have everything I often need within quick reach. I live alone, so I don’t need to be equipped to feed an entire football team, and don’t need a walk-in pantry or apothecary style cabinet.

Mason jars work great for me. If you don’t live alone and have to have more on hand in the kitchen, you could devote an entire upper cabinet or open shelf to your mason jars or storage containers. Add some baskets for e.g. granola bars and other snacks, and that could quasi serve as your pantry.

Photograph of glass jars filled with dried foodstuff like brown rice, popcorn maize, dried mushrooms, brown sugar, coconut flakes and tofu puffs. The jars are used in a small kitchen that has no pantry to maximise storage space.
Glass jars: part of my pantry solution for having no pantry 👍🏾

If you have any dead space next to your refrigerator for example, tall, narrow roll-out carts can be used to make a slide-out pantry. Here’s are a couple of great examples I found on Amazon.

A five-tier rolling organiser in black or white:

A super slim option for tight spaces:

Take Advantage of Vertical Space

Even the tiniest of kitchens often have unused vertical space. You could install a hanging pot rack above the cooker. Or hang up your pretty wooden cutting boards above the counter, and add a magnetic knife rack above your prepping area. Or pegs for your favourite coffee mugs. Vertical space is great for creating additional storage for frequently used items. You might even choose to add a hanging herbal garden above your sink or in front of a kitchen window for some fresh herbs in easy reach.

Pegboards are another great option for flexible storage, and the vertical space bare walls offer can also be used to mount or hang basket storage solutions, or a Utensilo to corral smaller items:

Upper cabinets should ideally be flush with the ceiling. But if they’re not (mine aren’t either), you can use that dead space for some minimal decorations such as a plant or wine rack, a cookbook collection, or dried good storage.

Cookbook collection neatly sorted on a shelf in a tiny kitchen, one of the small kitchen ideas to maximise space.
My cookbooks on top of the cabinet the fridge is built into.

Max Out Cabinet Space

Use the inside of lower cabinet doors to mount organisers and adhesive hooks or rods. These can be used in turn to house pot and pan lids, handheld appliances, and other kitchen utensils. You can even add a magnetic spice rack to upper cabinets. Here are a few I found browsing.

Magnetic spice tins:

Magnetic spice glasses:

I keep my paper towels hidden on an adhesive rod inside a lower cabinet door:

Photo of a stainless steel paper towel holder with a roll of white paper towels on it, hidden inside of a lower cabinet in a small kitchen to maximise space.

You can also mount such self-adhesive paper towel holders to the underside of an upper cabinet.

Other great small kitchen ideas to maximise space include adding shelf risers to layer your storage and create extra levels to max out vertical space inside your cabinets. Incorporating shelf organisers and hooks to the inside of your cabinets can also really help maximise storage space in a small kitchen.

Inside of an upper kitchen cabinet used to store glasses. We can see wine glasses, beer glasses, champagne glasses, and martini glasses. There is a row of hooks inside the upper shelf with glass beer mugs hanging to maximize space in a small kitchen.
Slide-on row of hooks for inside upper cabinets, where I hang my fave beer mugs.

Utilise Corner Cabinet Space

In a small, boxy kitchen like mine, you don’t want to be losing valuable corner space or have to go digging for your rice cooker in the farthest corner of a lower cabinet when you need it. Have your bottom corner cabinets outfitted with pull-out shelving. This allows you see everything in the cabinet at a glance!

I love my slide-out corner cabinet and keep all my kitchen gadgets in here, from the rice cooker and crockpot, to the juicer, mixer, beater, grinder, and dehydrator. Yup, and even a popcorn maker 💁🏻‍♀️

Small Kitchen Colour Schemes: Go Monochrome

Use a single colour throughout your kitchen to trick the eye. The room will appear larger than it is because your line of vision does not stop at a different coloured trim or backsplash, for example. You can still mix things up by adding in different textures in the same colour.

I personally opt for a warmer white wall in the kitchen nowadays. I’ve had colourful small kitchens in previous flats, but white really does open up the space like no other colour, and the entire kitchen just looks cleaner. It also goes with just about any tone of cabinetry or countertop.

The same monochromatic principles go for wallpaper if that’s your preference. Patterns can quickly make a room look smaller. If you’re working with a small space, stick with a more monochromatic tone and simple pattern that won’t engulf the room. It’s also a good idea to get wallpaper explicitly suitable for the kitchen. Check out Grundig’s guide for choosing kitchen wallpaper for more info and ideas.

Stay Organised

Store similar items together in the kitchen. Put your most frequently used things within easy reach. For example, if you use your coffee grinder every morning, it makes more sense to keep it in the lower cabinet below the coffee maker, not on a top shelf of an upper cabinet.

Repurpose file organisers for cutting boards, platters, and tupperware, pot and pan lids. Label any containers containing ambiguous ingredients. You don’t want to be confusing MSG with white sugar when you’re in the middle of backing cookies or cooking Pad Thai!

Finally, keep tabs on your inventory and stock of food supplies so that you always know what you have, and can use it. There’s hardly anything worse than throwing away food because you couldn’t see you had it in the back of a dark drawer, or forgot to check expiration dates.

If you have multiples of the same item, organise them chronologically by expiration date. Use up the older stock first, and keep things with a future expiration date towards the back of the drawer or cabinet.

What Are Your Small Kitchen Ideas to Maximise Space?

Do you have an open kitchen, a tiny galley kitchen, an L-shaped kitchen or a small boxy kitchen like mine? How do you keep it organised, and what are your small kitchen hacks? Leave a comment below and share your best tips!

Tidy, modern looking kitchen with no clutter on countertops. White walls and carrera marble counters with glass front upper cabinets. Caption reads 10 small kitchen ideas to max out your space. Tidymalism.com.
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