How to make a small kitchen feel bigger

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Many of us inherit a small but functional kitchen when we buy a property. 

It’s a step up from some of the kitchens foisted upon us when renting or in student accommodation. 

Yet, these kitchens be they new, old, or very old, can seem cramped with little work space, little space for equipment, and next to no storage. The question therefore, is how do we make them feel bigger than they really are? 

1. Can the Ceiling Go Up? 

For most of you, the answer will be no. However, some homes have false ceilings. This makes it possible to remove the false ceiling. The results will be two things. First, your kitchen will instantly feel bigger, and second, you will have more vertical space (see point 4). 

2. Open Shelving 

Cabinets look great and are the bedrock of any kitchen. Lower sub-counter cabinets are a must, but too many upper cabinets in a small kitchen can feel crammed sometimes. One way to avoid this is to have high, open shelving. It creates more space over the counter area while still providing oodles of storage. These shelves can be as deep as you like though we recommend having some kind of lip in order to stop things falling off. 

3. Use Corner Cabinets 

Don’t let a corner space just be there. Go for a corner cabinet. It adds more space and allows for a good deep place to store things. Some corner cabinets can be fitted with a carousel where you can store herbs, condiments, baking basics, pasta jars, jam and so on. The carousel really makes a deep, awkward cupboard more accessible.

4. Go for Vertical Storage

Kitchens have walls and when you’ve got a small one you’re very much aware of them. Make use of these walls as much as possible – even the one with a window. My window wall has herbs along the windowsill. Utensils and mugs could be mounted on the wall or hang from the bottom of shelves or cabinets. 

5. Use Dead Space

Even a small kitchen may contain a certain amount of dead space. For example, one old kitchen of mine had a deep corner space which was between the sink and the oven. It was not practical as a chopping space, so I bought a combination oven and then stored mixing bowls and baking trays on top of it. There will be other amounts of dead space which could be usable – like the top of a tall cupboard near the ceiling. Be creative.

6. Get Seasonal

Hopefully you have a garage or some loft space. If so, you can get seasonal. To avoid clutter, the grand old houses of Kyoto would have adjacent storehouses. The main house would only contain that season’s decorations, furnishings, and equipment. Any seasonal items could be stored elsewhere so for example, the stew pot goes into storage during the summer while the ice cream machine is tucked away in winter. It is also a good idea if you have seasonal furnishings, curtains, displays, and crockery.

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