Making Your Small Kitchen Feel Big


Whether you’ve bought an older house, are downsizing to a smaller home, or recently purchased a condo, small kitchen spaces are a common design obstacle for homeowners. You want your kitchen to feel large, welcoming and open, but maybe you’re not ready to knock down walls to make it physically bigger. Luckily, there are ways to make small kitchens work, and even make them a highlight of your home.

Often, homeowners try to make a small kitchen seem bigger by being sparse with decorations and personalization. Unfortunately, making your kitchen look empty is not the same as making it look big. Also, it’s hard to love a space that doesn’t feel like “you.” At KBC, we encourage our clients to bring personal elements into the space; these are often the building blocks for kitchen focal points, or custom pieces that we make to reflect who you are as a homeowner and home chef.

Many DIY home improvers also make the mistake of viewing the kitchen as a singular space.  Taking down a wall or making a pass through might make your kitchen seem bigger, but create an awkward space in an adjoining room. That’s why our designers always take a step back when looking at your kitchen, and view it as part of the larger whole that is your home. This way, we can ensure that the flow of your kitchen works with the other rooms in your home, instead of against them, creating a space that works from every angle.

The Importance of Focal Point

Every kitchen needs a focal point. Focal points draw people in and make them focus on something specific, while making the space seem bigger at the same time. Notice we said “a focal point.” You only need one. Of course, you can personalize in lots of ways, and you can have plenty of small things that make your kitchen your own. But when you choose a focal point, it should be one thing that immediately draws attention in the room.

Your focal point could be a gorgeous hutch, or an over-the-range hood, or a unique backsplash. You could choose to have retro colored bar stools or a marble countertop. Maybe you want an antique sink with a burnished bronze finish. Or perhaps you have some beautiful exposed brick along one wall. No matter what you choose, your focal point should be:

  • Obvious

  • Complementary

  • AND…

  • Beautiful.


Creating the Illusion of Space

If you can’t make your kitchen physically bigger, you have to make it seem bigger. The first step in doing this is to choose the right colors. Use light tones to open up the space, like lighter and softer paint colors or lighter wood tones” for cabinetry. If you love dark colors, don’t worry: instead of using dark colors for the whole kitchen, feature them in small areas or kitchen furniture. This will create a focal point that contrasts with the rest of the room, enhancing, rather than shrinking the space.


Prep Space & Multifunctionality

If you’re spending lots of time in your kitchen, we’re guessing most of that time is spent cooking. And as the star chef you are, you know that prep space is essential. And what’s the biggest issue with small kitchens? Lack of counter space. So, to make your prep space work for you, we’ll need to get creative.

First, you’ll want to open up as much space as you can on the counters. If you properly organize the interiors of cabinets, you’ll find that they can hold more than you ever imagined! You can also use open cabinets or garage appliances to store things like your coffee pot and mixer, opening up even more space. You’ll also want to consider a multifunctional prep space; the more you can do in one area, the better. If you’re looking for an expert prep space, consider a Galley workstation. Inspired by professional kitchens, workstations made by The Galley are super-functional spaces where you can prep, cook, clean, serve up food and even entertain guests. Instead of hiding in the kitchen away from guests, you’ll be inviting them in to join you while you cook!


Small Kitchen? No Problem.

A lot of people think designing a small kitchen that feels big and stylish is tough, or even impossible. But with the help of a top Pittsburgh kitchen designer, you can have the kitchen of your dreams without sacrificing functionality or style. Looking for more kitchen inspiration? Check out our galleries for examples of traditional, transitional and contemporary kitchens our customers love. Then, if you need help creating your dream kitchen, give us a call. We can’t wait to help you reimagine the space you call home.

Lindsey McGee