If you’re anything like me you probably spend a lot of time gazing at the designer kitchens in glossy magazines. You know they type – the ones with steam ovens, wine coolers and islands covered in Carrara marble. And if I ever win the lottery, a kitchen like this is definitely top of my wishlist.
Unfortunately my current kitchen is – and I’m being pretty generous here – rather poky. I guess the Edwardian builders didn’t give my entertaining needs too much thought when they were putting up my little terraced house. There’s hardly enough space for a swing bin, never mind swinging a cat in. And I’m not the only one – plenty of us are stuck with shoeboxes for kitchens.
But with a little thought and creativity, there’s no reason why you can’t turn a compact room into something charming rather than claustrophobic, full of character rather than just full up. A room that maximises space, works well and of course, looks great too.
So with that in mind, here’s our top tips to make the most of your tiny kitchen, without having to knock down walls or break the bank.
Embrace Your Awkward Spaces
As a country, we’re lucky to be blessed with countless types of houses, from idyllic country cottages to cosy two-up, two-downs, converted warehouses and Georgian townhouses. And what makes a house a home? Putting our own stamp on it.
It’s important to remember than no two houses are the same, so the key is to embrace your home’s quirks rather than fight them.
Have a sloped ceiling in your top floor apartment? Make a feature out the extractor fan – it’ll certainly be an eye-catching talking point. Is your city centre batchelor pad a little short on space? Ask a joiner to build bespoke cabinets that maximise the height and hide everything away. Keep banging your head on the low beams in your thatched cottage? Don’t hide them away, they’re character!
Declutter and Display
If you’re anything like me your kitchen cabinets are probably full of things that rarely see daylight. I know it sounds counter intuitive but trust me, if you replace bulky wall units with slender shelves, you really won’t look back.
So have a spring clean-out and declutter your kitchen – sell unused pots and pans or give them away to friends. Keep your favourite things out on display – not only will this create visual interest but it also means the daily essentials are easier to reach.
If you want to keep your cabinets but still have things on show, why not fit new glass doors? Because you can see through, you’ll be forced to keep things tidy – and a tidy room walls looks more spacious!
Pared Back Palette
Call it white magic, but there’s no doubt that lighter tones open up a room and create the illusion of a larger space.
Best of all, white works with almost any style – classic, contemporary or somewhere in the middle. And we’re not saying go all out – white floors, doors, worktops and walls might be a little bit too clinical for most of us – but there’s no doubt that pale tones can make bulky cabinets appear light and airy.
Choose a warm, dark wooden worktop to break up the palette and keep a few bright accessories on show for a pop of colour.
Kiss your kitchen!
Don’t worry, we’re not advocating kissing your worktops – even if they are spotless. But it definitely pays to follow the K.I.S.S principle that’s extremely popular with interior designers – “Keep It Simple, Stupid”. Flattering, hey?
The idea is to do away with anything visually distracting – so it’s bye bye to fussy handles and busy ornaments, hi-de-hi to handleless units and hidden storage.
And it does work, just take a look at the images below – the second follows the K.I.S.S principles and feels a lot calmer, open and more inviting.
Surfaces That Shine
I’m stating the obvious here, but reflective surfaces bounce light around a room and create the feeling of a larger space. So ditch the dull and go for shine – we’re thinking sparkling splashbacks, polished floor tiles, glossy cabinets and sleek chrome accessories.
Remember that colour can also have a great effect, so it’s important to choose the right tones for your space. If you’re short on natural light, warm and neutral colours are usually better for making a room feel brighter and more spacious. Speaking of which…
…Let There Be Light
Unfortunately, it’s usually out of the question to add in extra windows, especially if any valuable wall cabinets are used up for storage. But why not improve the artificial lighting in your kitchen?
Ceiling spotlights, plinth lighting at floor level and hidden LED tapes are all great ways to improve the lighting levels – even more so if you’ve fitted those nice reflective surfaces we’ve just discussed. If you’re thinking of adding in extra lighting, have a think about dimmers and different lighting circuits – it’s nice to change the mood of your kitchen at the turn of a switch.
Kitchens are often the hub of the home and a great place for the family to gather and hang out in.
But if space is tight and there’s little room for a table, why not invest in a humble breakfast bar? Extra worktop space and a place to sit and eat? That’s called killing two birds with one stone. And it’s a great place for the kids to finish their homework. If you’re tempted to add cabinets below, think carefully – a simple bar will appear to float and improve sightlines.
And Finally, Don’t Forget Your Floors
It goes without saying that floors are a focal point so the style and colour you choose will make a big difference to the perception of space.
Naturally, we’d pick tiles over anything else and if you want to make your kitchen feel more airy, it pays to go big – larger tiles will give a more seamless look and there’s fewer grout joints which to distract the eye – remember the K.I.S.S principle!