10 Big Kitchen Ideas for Small Kitchen Remodels & Designs

Big Design Ideas for a Small Kitchen

Small kitchens can be quite the design or remodeling challenge, but with just a few kitchen design ideas such as those that I’ve outlined below you can visually and physically open up your small-sized kitchen to make it seem larger while at the same time optimizing your kitchen layout and cabinet storage space.

  1. Take down a wall to open up the kitchen to the dining room or family room.  There is no need to push the kitchen out into the adjoining room, just simply taking the wall down and putting in a peninsula of base cabinets and counter top will make the kitchen seem much larger.
  2. Add some floating shelves above this peninsula where dishes, serving bowls and platters can be stored would be a good idea to make up for the wall cabinet space that is lost by taking down the wall.
  3. Use of a pot rack can conserve precious storage space in large base cabinets.
  4. Reduce the depth of cabinets so that they can fit in tighter spaces, like behind doors or next to windows.
  5. Explore sinking cabinets into walls where it’s possible in order to get some additional storage.  Make sure that the cabinets have layered storage such as spice racks or canned storage on the backs of the doors.
  6. Order extra shelves which allow for more storage since typically there is much wasted space in cabinets due to too much space between shelves.
  7. Using smaller, European appliances can help, for instance, a 24″ under counter oven that has a rotisserie in it from corner to corner for cooking a large turkey will save a lot of room.
  8. Any size cook top can go above this oven with a little design innovation with the cabinets.  For the hood, you can use a combination microwave and hood which doesn’t always look the best, but certainly conserves space.
  9. Smaller built in refrigerators are a great idea too, and, you can separate the refrigerator from the freezer by using under counter freezer drawers.  This will allow enough refrigeration space without taking up too much counter space.
  10. Dishwashers can also be found in 18″ wide and based on the design of the racks, they can accommodate a lot of dishes and glasses.

Small Kitchen Design Visualized and Realized

To further help you visualize the transformation of a petite kitchen using some of the above design ideas, I’ve  included my design notes and some photos of my personal kitchen remodeling project – in which I transformed a not so large kitchen space into a fully functional, visually pleasing and much larger looking kitchen. My kitchen was an addition to the house which has floor to ceiling sliding glass doors in the family room side.  In the kitchen, I opted to not have any windows with the exception of the clear story windows above the pantry.  To be able to obtain the design, it was necessary to not have windows in the kitchen (not a good view on that side of the house as well).

jennifer gilmer kitchen

To make up for the lack of natural light in the kitchen, I added back painted full glass panels on the backsplash.  The color is a light yellow/green, so, when the hood and under cabinet lights are turned on, the entire backsplash glows!  In order to get outlets on the back splash, I added a fairly high, about 9″ back splash of the honed black absolute granite in which the black outlets were installed.

jennifer gilmer kitchen with family room seating area small condo

The island also has the same black granite, but, it’s also surrounded with wenge butcher block.  A sliding butcher block board can slide over the sink to increase counter space when needed.

The custom hood lines up with the ceiling beams and is very wide and spacious to accommodate the 36″ gas cook top, deep fryer and grill/griddle.

jennifer gilmer small kitchen design light and spacious appearance
The pantries not only store food but they also house the steam/convection oven and microwave.  When in use, the doors bi-fold and slide back so that the entire space can be opened and left open during food preparation.  Putting the counter inside this pantry allows me to store and use some countertop appliances in there as well.

My kitchen isn’t a really large one, yet, it stores all I need and functions beautifully.  A small to medium sized kitchen is all that one needs, and, they are more functional since it isn’t necessary to cover a lot of ground when preparing dinner and when cleaning up!


About Jennifer Gilmer Jennifer Gilmer, CKD, has been creating beautiful kitchens in the Washington, DC area and beyond for more than 20 years. Starting with a drafting job in a small kitchen design firm in McLean, Virginia, Jennifer soon realized she had an absolute passion for this creatively technical work. She also discovered an innate ability to understand the needs and personalities of her clients and to create spaces to compliment each individual. Her award-winning designs span the spectrum from classic and traditional to sleek and contemporary. She is committed to fulfilling her clients’ needs, doing it well and making the process as joyful as possible. Jennifer is a native of the Washington, DC area. After her initial drafting job, Jennifer worked with legendary high-end kitchen designer Richard Tunis for eight years. She and a partner then opened Kitchen and Bath Studios, Inc. in Chevy Chase, Maryland in 1993. In 1998, she decided to launch her own firm — Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen and Bath, Ltd. Her vision has grown into a successful business, which includes a dedicated support staff who strive to provide the firm’s clients with detailed designs and exceptional service. In 2009, Jennifer launched an online kitchen design studio, Kitchen Design Online (KDOL) that provides homeowners (both DIY and those working with contractors), architects and builders with a range of services from floor plans to detailed elevations to 3D perspective images.Enjoyed this article? You can read more of Jennifer's "Kitchen Design Secrets Revealed" columns on The Decorating Diva.com, and on Jennifer's kitchen design blog.