7 Small Kitchen Ideas, Including Layouts & Design Tips

I’ll show you the most popular small kitchen layouts and how to best design and decorate them. In addition, I’ll share great tips and hacks on how to make your small kitchen look bigger, more functional, and high-end.

1. The one-wall kitchen

These are found in a small studio apartment or a one-room rental. All the cabinets, counters, and appliances are all on one wall. They work well in small spaces because they are efficient and conserve space.

I’d avoid using a lot of open shelving. You want most of your kitchen items hidden behind closed doors to keep them neat. Who wants to look at hanging pots and pans while on the couch or in bed?


Design the kitchen cabinetry and backsplash to tie in with the rest of the space. Get the appliances faced with cabinetry if possible.


Or, make the cabinets unique elements so they don’t look like typical kitchen cabinets. This creates an interesting element in the room to help you and others see past the fact that there’s a kitchen in the middle of the living space.


2. Small L-shaped kitchen

This uses two of the three walls in the space for cabinets and appliances. The third wall is empty or occupied by a small table set. This layout gives you a little more room than the one-wall kitchen. It can also open to the main living space. If that’s the case, use the same suggestions as the one-wall kitchen.

If your L-shaped kitchen is in a separate room, using some open shelving or glass-front doors is okay but don’t overdo it because you still need to hide the mess. Clutter makes a small space feel smaller.


If there’s a window in the space, allow as much light in as possible to make the space feel larger.


If the space is already separated, you can be bold with cabinets, backsplash, and your lighting. Unique color combinations, patterns, and shapes create a designer feel in your small space. People are focusing on the beautiful finishes, not on the fact that the kitchen is small.


3. The small peninsula kitchen

This is the L-shaped kitchen with an island, however, one side of the island is attached to the wall. These kitchens feel larger since they are open to the adjoining space. They benefit from the visual real estate of the adjoining room.

The peninsula offers extra counter space and people love adding seating to this area. Please don’t place bar-height stools at the counter-height peninsula. Use counter-height stools.


The taller bar stools work better for raised secondary counters.


You know you don’t have the right height stools when your legs can barely fit up underneath the counter. This is the time to get creative with your seating, whether it’s the color,  shape, style, or material to add interest.


If you have enough space, a small regular-height table set added to the end of the peninsula adds more seating, function, and style.


If there’s not enough room, use a waterfall edge so the exposed side has a high-end finished look. Finally, add shelving, cabinetry, or artwork on the wall above the peninsula to create additional storage and interest.


4. Small U-shape kitchen

This kitchen uses all three shapes of this small area. It offers more counter space and cabinetry even though it’s a small kitchen. Invest in higher-end counters in the space to make a big impact on the overall design.

People often make the stoves and hoods the center of attention. Be bold with your design ideas or invest in your appliances.


This layout has a lot of corners and you will need unique storage ideas for efficient use of space. The lazy Susan, a corner appliance garage, or pull-out corner drawers work well.


5. The galley kitchen

This long, narrow kitchen with two parallel walls has cabinetry and appliances with an aisle straight down the middle. Some have walls or doors to the end of the galley kitchen. Since it’s separate from the other living spaces, keeping the mess out of the view of guests is easy.

To keep the space from looking like a bowling alley or long hallway, break up the parallel sides. If there’s a window, that will help. If there is not a window, open shelving on one side and closed cabinetry on the other side work well.


Or, try no upper cabinets on one side to help the space feel bigger. Add a mirror over the sink or stove for interest. Add unique colors on cabinets and walls for interest.


If there’s a way to cut an opening in one wall for a pass-through, that will make the space feel more open.


6. Small kitchen with an island

People love islands because they offer more counter, storage, and seating space. It’s typically where the food is displayed, too.

If your kitchen is small but you want the look and feel of an island, add a butcher block island in the center. It has a small footprint but a substantial look.


A stainless steel restaurant table with open shelves also works.


When adding an island to a small kitchen, you need to leave at least 3 feet around each side.


7. Stay clutter-free and organized

This applies to any size kitchen. Keep those open shelves and counters free of unnecessary stuff. The open shelves should hold dishes of one color so it’s not visually distracting. Counters should have no more than three small appliances on them and one or two decorative elements.

Use built-in trash cans for small kitchens. If not, the can will be in the way of counters and it’s unsightly.

If the space truly isn’t big enough, don’t try to squeeze in a table or island. Just enjoy the space as it is. I hope these tips worked and you can love your small space even more. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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