Small Kitchen Remodeling: Ideas to Maximize Counter Space and Storage

Small Kitchen Remodeling Ideas

Remodeling a small kitchen and bath can seem daunting. Still, with some clever design ideas and strategic changes, you can completely transform your compact cooking space’s look, feel, and functionality. If you’re planning to focus first on your kitchen, the key to a small kitchen remodel is working within your existing footprint to maximize every inch and create the illusion of more room.

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From space-saving storage solutions to visual tricks that make a small kitchen appear larger, you’ll find plenty of inspirational tips to make kitchen makeover make your tiny kitchen both beautiful and highly functional.

Maximizing Storage Space

One of the biggest challenges in a small kitchen is the lack of storage and prep space. When renovating your compact kitchen, look for ways to add more cabinets, drawers, shelving, and counters without increasing the footprint. Here are some excellent options:

Wall Cabinets and Shelving

Make use of vertical space by installing wall cabinets and open shelving to the ceiling. Floor-to-ceiling cabinetry instantly adds storage and makes the room feel taller. Mix closed cabinets with open shelves for an airy, modern look.

Two-Tier Island

Add a two-tier island with lower counter space on one side for prep work and bar-height seating on the other side for casual dining. The split levels maximize the island’s functionality.

Slide-Out Storage

Install pull-out shelves, rotating “lazy susans”, and slide-out drawers to fully utilize every inch of existing cabinetry. Don’t forget the toe-kick space – you can add slide-out storage here too.

According to HGTV Remodels, innovative storage solutions like slide-out cabinet drawers, open shelving, and two-tier islands can help maximize every inch in a small kitchen remodel.

Microwave Drawers

Swap the microwave for a built-in drawer microwave to free up counter space. Place it below the oven or low on the wall.

Countertop Depth

For more workspace, have countertops made deeper than the standard 25″. Go up to 30″ deep for ample room for food prep and appliances.

Choosing the Right Cabinetry

With the right cabinetry choices, you can add storage, make the space feel lighter and more open, and create a custom look on a budget.

Two-Tone Cabinets

Go for two-tone cabinets – like white uppers with black lowers – to give the eye more places to land, making the kitchen feel more expansive. The contrast also adds a stylish dimension.

Open Shelving

Incorporate some open shelving into your cabinetry design. Removing upper cabinets and cabinet doors and replacing them with shelves makes the kitchen feel more open. Use for dishes, cookbooks, or plants.

Glass Front Cabinets

Glass front cabinets maintain the streamlined look of no cabinets but still allow you to hide small appliances and other clutter. Place them above the sink or stove.

Shaker Style Doors

For a fresh, timeless look, opt for simple shaker-style cabinet doors. They instantly provide a clean, modern feel. Choose a neutral color palette for versatility.

Creative Countertop Solutions

Choosing the right countertop material, color, and backsplash makes a huge impact on the look and feel of your small kitchen. Get creative with these ideas:

Marble Countertops

Elegant marble countertops, like Carrara or Calacatta, add luxury instantly. The white marble makes the space feel light and airy. Use large-scale marble tiles for the backsplash too.

Wood Countertops

Warm up a small kitchen with wood countertops, like a butcher block. It’s great for prep work and adds natural texture. Use wood shelving for a coordinated look.

Boldly Painted Backsplash

Make a statement and widen the kitchen visually by painting the backsplash wall in a bold, bright color like emerald green or sapphire blue. Use high-gloss paint for easy wiping.

Vintage Tile Backsplash

For a retro cottage look, use vintage-style tiles in soft hues for the backsplash. Subway tiles, fish scale tiles, or hexagon tiles create a charming appeal.

Choosing Appliances for Small Kitchens

Appliance choices make a significant impact in a compact kitchen. Look for smaller-scale appliances designed for tight spaces.

Mini Fridge

Swap the full-sized refrigerator for a slim counter-depth or mini fridge to save inches of space. Choose a style with a bottom freezer.

Compact Dishwasher

A 24″ slim dishwasher tucks perfectly between cabinets. Or, choose an 18″ model – it’s even smaller but still fits 10 place settings.

Small Stove/Oven Combo

Instead of a full stove and oven, go for a 24″ or 27″ stove-oven combo. Some fit in as little as 21″ of space.

Microwave Drawer

As mentioned before, a microwave drawer frees up countertop space of space. Models are available in trim kit sizes as small as 24″.

Brass Fixtures & Accents

Warm up a small kitchen with vintage brass accents or gold accents. Try brass fixtures, cabinet hardware, pendant lights, and barstools for a luxe, yet cozy look.

Clever Layout Ideas and Design Elements

How you arrange the kitchen layout and use other kitchen designs and elements can make a small kitchen much more livable and spacious seeming.

Island with Seating

Even a narrow kitchen can fit a small island, which instantly adds prep space and a dining table with seats. Float it parallel to cabinets or anchor it under a window.

Exposed Ceiling Beams

Exposing ceiling beams adds architectural interest and makes the room feel larger. For a budget option, install faux wood beams.

Large Windows or Skylights

Maximize natural light with an enlarged window over the sink or new skylights. This makes the entire room feel brighter and bigger.

Mirror Backsplash

Use mirror tiles or stainless steel for the backsplash to reflect light and create the illusion of more space. It makes dark corners brighter too.

Glass Wall Cabinets

Up against a window, glass wall cabinets almost seem to disappear, removing visual barriers and opening up the view. Use for dishes or glassware.

Mini-Pendant Lights

Outfit the kitchen with several small, low-hanging pendant lights rather than one large fixture. Breaking up the space with small kitchen ideas this way expands it visually.

As recommended by Good Housekeeping, visually opening up a tiny kitchen is key. They suggest tricks like mirrored backsplashes, lighter colors, and glass cabinetry to make the most of small square footage.

Visual Tricks to Make a Small Kitchen Appear Larger

With some clever visual tricks, you can fool the eye into thinking your compact kitchen is more spacious than it is.

Stick with Neutrals

Monochromatic color schemes are best for small spaces. Stick with neutral whites, beiges, and warm gray tones which recede to create the illusion of more room.

Repeating Colors

Unify the look by repeating the same colors in your cabinetry, countertops, backsplash, and flooring. Matching tones will make the space appear seamless. There are many kitchen cabinet color ideas you can count on if you want to have a nice color scheme for your kitchen.

Add Contrast with Black

The contrast of black instantly slims and modernizes a kitchen. Try black counters, black cabinets throughout, or backsplash against light walls and flooring.

Limit Pattern

Visually busy patterns like bold florals or checkerboards will make a small kitchen feel cramped and cluttered. Instead, use solid colors, simple subway tiles, or neutral marbles.

Direct Eye Upward

Install a backsplash that draws the eye upward, like marble tiles in a herringbone pattern, to make the ceiling seem higher than it is.

Floating Shelves

Line a wall with floating shelves in place of bulky wall cabinets to reduce visual weight and open up the room. Float shelves above counters too.


What are some ideas to make a small kitchen feel bigger?

Install mirrors or reflective backsplashes to create the illusion of more space. Stick with light, neutral colors like white, beige, or light gray to visually expand the room. Add windows and skylights. Use glass cabinets and floating shelves to reduce visual weight.

What is the most expensive part of a full kitchen renovation or remodel?

The cabinetry is often the kitchen renovations’ biggest expense, especially if you opt for custom cabinets. High-end countertops like granite or marble are another big investment. Top-of-the-line stainless steel appliances can also drive up costs quickly.

How can I get some more counter space and cabinet space in my small San Francisco kitchen?

Opt for deeper countertops around 30 inches. Add a kitchen island or peninsula with seating. Install pull-out shelves and slide-out storage in existing cabinets. Shelving to the ceiling maximizes vertical storage.

What cabinet and storage options work well in small kitchens?

Custom built-in cabinetry makes the most of every inch. Glass front cabinets maintain an open look. Two-tone cabinetry adds dimension. Open shelving feels airier than wall cabinets. Drawers and pull-out shelves fully utilize interior cabinet spaces.

What are some good kitchen island ideas for small spaces?

Even small kitchens can fit a narrow island. Opt for a rectangular island parallel to wall cabinets. Two-tiered islands double the function. Can also install a bar-height counter island for dining seating.

How can I get a fresh, updated look in my outdated, cramped kitchen?

A fresh coat of bright white paint on cabinets can instantly freshen the space. Replace old countertops with stylish new materials like marble or quartz. Add on-trend brass or black stainless accents. Install a cool tile backsplash.

What are some compact appliances ideal for small space or kitchen remodels?

Mini fridges, narrow dishwashers, and stove-oven combos save inches of space. Microwave drawers built into cabinets reduce countertop clutter. Small sinks and brass fixtures keep the kitchen looking sleek.

Should I keep an open floor plan when remodeling my small kitchen and dining room?

Open layouts make a small kitchen feel more spacious. However, a partial wall or kitchen peninsula can help delineate the kitchen while still maintaining an open flow. Bench seating blurs lines between rooms.

What cabinetry finishes and styles work well in contemporary kitchen remodels?

For a clean, modern look try two-tone cabinets like white uppers, white cabinets, and black lowers. Shaker cabinets keep the aesthetic simple. Floating shelves create an airy, minimalist feel.


With some clever solutions, suddenly a cramped, dated kitchen becomes a contemporary showpiece optimized for storage, flow, and style even within the tight square footage.

Focus on changes that increase accessibility and make the compact space feel open, from exposing clean lines to enlarging windows for natural light. Before you know it, you’ll have a Pinterest-worthy kitchen packed with possibilities, no matter the limited walls or square footage.

Bayram Gulsen

Bayram Gulsen is the owner of Cabinets City. He always had this passion to redefine cabinetry to be at its best along with his dedicated team and the author of Cabinets City blog: You can find Bayram on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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