Wrestling with space constraints of a small kitchen or a kitchenette? You’re probably already familiar with the nightmare of keeping things organised in your compact kitchen. With pots and pans spilling out of drawers and appliances overflowing on the kitchen counter, it can be hard to identify just where to start organising. 

Well, you can save the groans and sighs because small compact kitchen ideas are organisational bliss and very achievable! This guide to small compact kitchen design ideas will form a veritable handbook on getting the better of restrictive kitchen space.

Small Compact Kitchen Design Ideas #1: Outlining the Parts of a Kitchen

An island cabinet counter defines the kitchen and dining areas
A compact kitchen designed with island cabinet counter to integrate with the dining area

When you are dealing with compact kitchen spaces, the first important thing is to understand the different zones. The elements that go into an entire kitchen are equally key!

Worktop station

The workhouse of the kitchen, work tops, are arguably the most essential part of any kitchen because that’s where a lot of the culinary magic happens. Work tops can refer to the space above lower cabinets that are traditionally at waist-level. These bear the brunt of all that goes on in the kitchen. So, it is crucial to ensure your work top can take loads; materials that are easy to maintain and are durable, heat-resistant material are precious.

Cabinetry space

Every kitchen needs its’ fair share of cabinets as these form the storage units of the kitchen. Depending on the amount of vertical and horizontal space available, cabinets can span only the lower half of the kitchen or, be accompanied by loft-style cabinets. The cabinetry of a kitchen will inevitably also have drawers; if there are dead corners, upgrade them with magic corner units.

Essential appliances

With a standard kitchen comes a list of quintessential appliances that the space needs to function. This list typically includes a stove and hob, a refrigerator, a microwave oven and a sink. Larger kitchens can afford to accommodate a regular oven for baking and grilling.  Food processors, grinders, toasters and larger fridges with two or three doors can fit in perfectly as well.  When designing a kitchen, it’s crucial to evaluate and freeze on the right spot for the placements of larger appliances. Once these appliances are fixed, you won’t be able to move them willy-nilly. On the other hand, smaller appliances can be lined up on the counter and moved around easily. Installing dedicated cabinets for microwaves and ovens can be a good use of vertical space as a compact kitchen idea.

Small Compact Kitchen Design Ideas #2: Which Finish to Choose? 

This very starting point that leaves plenty of homeowners scratching their heads: finishes! Finishes are an integral part of any kitchen design. They serve not just an aesthetic purpose but also a functional one: in case of spills and leaks, you don’t want to be worried about the finish of your cabinets! Here are a few finishes you can consider:

Glossy vs Matt

Standout kitchen colour combination with red and white glossy laminates

For small compact kitchen ideas, glossy finishes are great! They reflect available light to make the space seem bigger and brighter. They’re also easier to wipe down because of the smooth surface. If you’re choosing a glossy laminate or acrylic, there’s a wide variety of colours to choose from, which makes your kitchen design highly customisable. 

Matte finishes look regal and muted in small compact kitchen ideas. Ideally, homeowners should steer clear of darker colours as this could make a space look constricted. However, dark colours, when juxtaposed against lighter shades with an overall matte finish, can create a dramatic kitchen décor that impresses.

Laminate vs Acrylic

Semi-glossy white, matt wood and metallic laminates make for a modern Scandi look

Available in a multitude of textures, colours and finishes, laminates are great choices for cabinets in small compact kitchen ideas. The choice of texture allows designers to bring in depth and colour into the space. Moreover, it ensures the cabinetry is durable, easy to maintain and wipe down. 

A reflective, non-toxic surface, acrylic reflects ambient light and comes in a variety of colours. The choice of texture is limited considering it is of the high-gloss variety. However, they are durable as they are scratch-resistant and don’t fade with time.

Small Compact Kitchen Design Ideas #3: Designing your Kitchen to Look Seamless

Classic colour combinations of whites, greys, light earth tones and sheer pastels help reflect light, making compact space seem expansive. These basic hues give your kitchen an ethereal look that offers endless possibilities of colour pops, great for highlighting plates of fruit, flowers, pots, appliances and bright-coloured dining ware! 

Once you’ve got all the individual elements in place, it all boils down to kitting out the kitchen in a manner that looks seamless and makes whipping up culinary marvels seamless too. Here are some functional design tips to make your small compact kitchen ideas come together harmoniously:

Handle-less Cabinets

Cabinet drawers without handles for a sleek looking kitchen

To reduce visual clutter in small compact kitchen ideas, swap out handles in favour of handle-less cabinets. These usually have a hidden groove to be pulled out or have built-in edge profile handles that don’t disturb the otherwise smooth cabinetry facade. They’re also the safest bet if you’re unsure what handle style, finish and material you want to opt for.

White Overhead Cabinets

A compact kitchen looks bigger with white overhead cabinets and marble-like backsplash

A clever trick to maximise space both visually and spatially is to use white overhead cabinets. These blend in with typically white walls which visually reduces bulk without having to compromise on actual storage. Overhead cabinets are also a practical use of vertical space – they draw the eyes upwards, making the space seem taller. In terms of compact kitchen design, the pairing with lower cabinets of contrasting colours gives an effect that’s dramatic without being overpowering.

Opt for pull out drawers

When organising a small space, it comes down to utilising clever storage solutions that capitalise on the space you have. It’s easiest to organise small compact kitchen ideas when you divide your storage according to needs.  

Zone systems and defined places for everything ensure that the countertops stay clutter-free and you’ll always find what you’re looking for.

For utensils, consider choosing cabinets below the stove for handy access. Best kept under the sink, cleaning supplies should be kept away from cutlery and dinnerware.

Dedicate an overhead cabinet to keeping smaller appliances like food processors or cake mixers that you don’t need on a daily basis. 

Pull out baskets and shallow drawers with dividers help keep everything in place, while magic corner cabinets are ideal for non-perishable goods and packed foods.

Small Compact Kitchen Design Ideas #4: Smart Solutions

Additional top shelf and free standing cup holder put dead space to good use

When it comes to small compact kitchen ideas, the final leg of the design journey lies in going beyond textbook storage space and adopting smart solutions.

Make sure to use bare walls to hang up storage racks that would double up as industrial decor. Consider a pull-out pantry, which can be customised to the narrowest of vertical spaces.

Put corners to work with a carousel rack; a sturdy yet light one spins easily to allow you quick access to items in the back. Stainless steel trays, mounted on the insides of cabinets, keep cleaning materials out of sight yet totally organised.   

Make the most use of your existing space by customising a small space with small compact kitchen ideas. For example, put dead corners to work and keep utensils organised, all while presenting a visually appealing design.

Once a kitchen is completed, it is crucial to maintain and clean it well. This ensures the longevity of the space. It is no surprise then that the durability of the material ensures the cap on the kitchen renovation budget stays shut until you open it!

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Also, if you liked reading this, you might be interested to check this “Does your kitchen follow this golden rule?”

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