Maximize Your Small Kitchen With These Budget-Friendly Ideas

small kitchen ideas
41 Small Kitchen Ideas That Don't Skimp on StyleAVERY NICOLE PHOTOGRAPHY; BAKES & KROPP

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From cooking and cleaning to enjoying meals with loved ones, we spend a lot of time in the kitchen — it's the heart of the home, after all. While having a big, spacious kitchen is a dream for many homeowners, small kitchens can be just as functional when properly designed and organized. To help you make the most of your limited square footage, we rounded up small kitchen ideas that pack a lot of style.

Even if you're sticking to a tight budget, it's possible for small kitchens — even very small kitchens — to feel functional and stylish. Tackle kitchen clutter by putting up shelves, hanging pots from the ceiling or bringing in a rolling cart. If you're dreaming up a major refresh, consider painting your cabinets a fresh shade (light colors make a small room pop) or install a tiny kitchen island that doubles as extra counter space.

Whether your kitchen design is modern, traditional or country, you'll find ways to infuse personality into small spaces. Try experimenting with checkerboard floors, layering in vintage accents or taking a kitchen backsplash all the way to the ceiling. Swap upper cabinets for open shelving (a great hack for galley kitchens) or go big with artwork (it can easily become the focal point). Whether you live in an apartment, condo or your house is lacking kitchen space, you're sure to find design inspiration to steal.

Infuse Color With Tiles

Bring a bold backsplash all the way to the ceiling to emphasize the height of a room. A skylight window also helps draw the eye upward.

a modern kitchen in an attic flat
SolStock - Getty Images

Embrace Checkerboard Flooring

Weave in retro design elements, like a classic checkerboard floor and vintage-inspired gold hardware. This bright kitchen, designed by Brady Tolbert for Emily Henderson Design, also makes use of vertical space with sky-high open shelving.

RELATED: Retro Kitchen Ideas for the Ultimate Vintage and Throwback Look

a white kitchen with white cabinets and checkerboard floors
Tessa Neustadt

Steal From Vintage Kitchens

From the butcher block countertop and moody green cabinets to the cafe curtains and glass pendant light, this small kitchen — designed by Sarah Stacey — is packed with vintage charm and character.

RELATED: Best Kitchen Curtain Ideas to Dress Up Windows

a kitchen with green cabinets
Avery Nicole Photography

Hide the Fridge

Try a panel-ready fridge, which means the appliance comes with a custom cabinet panel so it blends seamlessly with the rest of your space. Here, a mini fridge hides behind the light gray (Gossamer Veil by Sherwin Williams) cabinets.

See more at Boxwood Avenue »

small kitchen with mini fridge and gray cabinets
Boxwood Avenue

Let Counters Play Double Duty

Blending seamlessly with the kitchen counter, this built-in peninsula offers additional surface space for meal prep. Later, pull out the backless stool and there's a convenient spot to work, entertain or enjoy meals.

studio apartment ideas, studio apartment with a kitchen to the side and a small table in the back
Vostok - Getty Images

Bring in a Dining Table

Due to the placement of a back door, this kitchen is split in two parts, leaving a lot of open floor space. It's the perfect opportunity to bring in a small dining set.

white and grey tiled kitchen with backdoor
Arnt Haug

Install a Small Kitchen Island

Your kitchen island doesn't have to conform to expectations, especially if there isn't enough space for a standard setup. Here, Philip Consalvo of PJCArchitecture installs a practical island to fit this room's unique footprint and the surrounding space.

kitchen with marble island and banquette

Use Two-Tone Cabinets

In this Upper East Side galley kitchen, Bakes & Kropp allows dark lower cabinets to define the space and keeps it minimal up top. Open shelving on one side help make this narrow space feel less narrow.

RELATED: Gorgeous Galley Kitchen Ideas to Maximize Small Layouts

galley kitchen black cabinets
Bakes & Kropp

Create a Small Seating Area

Extend the kitchen counter to include just enough space for two bar stools, which actually face away from the kitchen. To save on counter space, Union of Art Interiors also creates a cubby for the microwave to live.

RELATED: Best Bar Stools to Make the Most of Your Kitchen Island

galley kitchen idea white cabinets black hardware
Union of Art Interiors

Maximize Every Part of the Kitchen

Display dishes, mugs, cutting boards and spices within reach — even if you're tight on space. Stacked shelves over the counter and a slim shelf over the fridge — painted the same color as the walls — put every small spot to use.

See more at Almost Makes Perfect »

a kitchen with white cabinets
Almost Makes Perfect

Try a Farmhouse-Style Kitchen Island

Not only does a dark wood accent (like this farmhouse-style island) provide additional counter space, it adds warmth and contrast when paired with white kitchen cabinets. Here, blogger Brigette Muller of @hummusbirrd also adds stools for a small dining spot.

a dining room table with a bowl of fruit on it and long sheers on windows
Brigette Muller

Go Big With Art

Just because you're working with a small space, doesn't mean you can't display your art collection. Use a mix of small and large prints to create a gallery wall that adds dimension to your kitchen.

house of jade interiors gallery wall, mix of art and printed items kitchen
Lindsay Salazar

Make the Most of Kitchen Corners

Learn to work with the space you have by capitalizing on every corner and nook. If your actual kitchen is small, there may be a small crevice or awkward nook that can be reworked into additional kitchen space.

small kitchen ideas, kitchen makeover jacey duprie, damselindiorcom green cabinets
Monica Wang

Add Corner Shelves

If you don't have the space for wall-to-wall open shelving, go for small corner shelves. Designer Kate Lester created instant storage by hanging three reclaimed barn wood shelves.

RELATED: Open Kitchen Shelving Ideas to Revamp Your Cooking Space

kitchen organization ideas corner shelves
Lauren Pressey

Take a Maximalist Approach

Go with over-the-top patterns, colors, rugs and decorative accents. Piling it on with purpose will help your space feel cozy, not overwhelmed.

small kitchen ideas wallpaper
Brian Woodcock

Create the Illusion of More Space

Mirrors reflect light and trick the eye into perceiving a space is larger than it actually is — plus, they look great while doing it.

See more at Style by Emily Henderson »

small kitchen idea, white kitchen with gold mirror
Design by Jess Bunge; Photo by Sara Tramp

Go Bold on Top, Neutral on Bottom

Here's a playful way to make your smaller space feel more vertical: go for bright upper cabinets. What's more? This modern kitchen has double-stacked cabinets for a ton of storage space. Keep it neutral on the bottom to create contrast.

colorful kitchens
Barbara Egan/Reportage

Add Sleek Open Shelving

Suspend open shelving from the ceiling or hang a rack high on the wall to add height and create the illusion of more space. At the same time, the added storage will minimize clutter on the counter.

kitchen designed by elizabeth reich of jenkins baer associates
Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Use a Bar Cabinet

Don't waste cabinet space on booze. Here, interior designer Reena Sotropa uses a geometric bar cabinet to create separation in a small space.

white kitchen with bar cabinet
Design: Reena Sotropa In House Design Group; Photo: Phil Crozier

Get Smart With Floating Shelves

Don't let windows get in your way. Stretch floating shelves across the entire wall, making sure to leave enough room between them to allow the natural light to come through.

small kitchen ideas shelves over windows
Jessica Alexander for Pure Salt Interiors

Stick With One Color

Embrace a monochromatic palette to create a sense of harmony in a small kitchen. Whites and grays are classic options, but bold colors can be just as timeless (if done right).

RELATED: Green Kitchen Cabinet Ideas That'll Energize the Heart of Your Home

small kitchen ideas runner
Stoffer Photography for Jean Stoffer Design

Mount a Metal Rack

Skip a decorative backsplash and hang this metal rack instead. Attach metal hooks to hang pots, pans, pitchers, cutting boards and other cooking must-haves.

small kitchen ideas multipurpose pot rack
Art Streiber

Extend Tile from Countertop to Ceiling

Help the eye travel from the floor to the ceiling by covering the entire wall with an understated backsplash. Mix in fresh greenery and florals to freshen up the area.

small kitchen ideas tiled backsplash
Mike Garten

Install a Pegboard Wall

Paint a pegboard in a cheery hue to create a functional focal point. Once attached, load it up with some of your kitchen must-haves — measuring cups, wooden spoons, cast iron skillets and more.

small kitchen ideas pegboard wall
Annie Schlechter for Country Living

Highlight an Open Layout

The work of John McClain Design, this small kitchen is also a dining room and living room — and, yet it feels super spacious and sophisticated. Two small bistro tables near the sofa provide additional dining space.

small kitchen ideas
Taylor Architectural Photography

Keep Most-Used Items on Shelves

While, yes, pretty dishware doubles as decor, it's way more practical to load floating shelves with items that you use on the daily, like cookware and mixing bowls.

small kitchen ideas pots and pans on shelf
Mike Garten

Use Small Nooks for Dining

Even a narrow nook can comfortably seat the whole family if you choose built-in benches instead of chairs.

RELATED: Charming Breakfast Nook Ideas That’ll Cozy Up Any Small Space in Your Kitchen

breakfast nook ideas, light blue bench with square table

Choose Floor-to-Ceiling White

We all know that light, bright spaces feel more spacious than dark, dreary areas. Stick with white cabinets, walls and trim for your small kitchen, then layer in wood accents and black cabinet hardware to keep things trendy.

RELATED: Stunning Kitchens With White Cabinets

white kitchen with wood accents
Mike Garten

Create a Portable Stove

Instead of installing a full stove, blogger Ashley Rene went for something much more versatile: a double burner on a rolling cart and a vent hood with a charcoal filter. When the homeowner isn't cooking, they can easily put the burner away and have infinite more space.

Get the tutorial at Cherished Bliss »

kitchen with portable burners on rolling cart
Cherished Bliss

Disguise Your Dishwasher

For those of us with limited cabinet space, a dishwasher can take up half the kitchen. If you want to achieve a clean and streamlined aesthetic, install your dishwasher to fit seamlessly beneath your kitchen counters.

small kitchen ideas, dishwasher in white cabinets
Aliyev Alexei Sergeevich

Double up on Pattern and Color

Further proof that small doesn't equal boring. Mix and match different patterns and colors into your space, working your way up from the floors to the ceiling. Here, rich green cabinets are offset by a subway tile backsplash and black-and-white ceramic tile floor.

small kitchen ideas pattern and color
Callie Hobbs of Studio McGee

Keep it Classic

Pair classic horizontal subway tile with a creamy, all-white palette to nail a classic look. For a little drama, choose geometric flooring tile.

small kitchen ideas
Hearst Owned

Add a Built-In Seat

In an effort to merge the kitchen with the living room, Studio Merlin Founder Josh Piddock added a built-in kitchen seat into these rich blue cabinets from Reform.

small kitchen ideas, built in kitchen seat
Design by Studio Merlin; Photo by Richard Chivers

Go for Light Appliances

While stainless steel appliances are most popular, this sleek Smeg fridge proves that white appliances can look just as chic. Lighten up your space by pairing it with crisp white tiles, blonde wood floors and baby blue cabinets.

See more at Style by Emily Henderson »

small kitchen idea, pastel blue cabinets and smeg fridge
Design by Velinda Hellen; Photo by Sara Tramp

Try Backless Stools

When living in a small home or apartment, you need all the counter space you can get — even if that means creating your own with a dining room table that serves two purposes. Plus, backless stools can live under the table to conserve space when they're not being used.

small kitchen ideas, all blue kitchen with wood countertop table and stools
Miki Duisterhof

Craft a Wine Nook

Turn dead space into a smart storage solution to corral cutting boards, wine bottles and anything else you like to have on hand while cooking.

small kitchen ideas wine rack
Jessica Bordner

Get Bold With Your Backsplash

Use tile to trick the eye: lay it vertically to create the illusion of height or horizontally to make the room seem wider. Color also comes into play, which is why designer Maureen Stevens opted for a geometric tile that played up the kitchen's white cabinets and walls.

small kitchen ideas bold backsplash for maureen stevens
Peter Molick for Maureen Stevens

Add Task Lighting

Illuminate a specific area — your prep station, perhaps? — with stylish sconces. Find ones in the same finish as the rest of the kitchen's hardware for consistency's sake.

small kitchen ideas open shelving
Amy Bartlam

Invest in a Rolling Kitchen Cart

A stainless steel kitchen island on wheels is made with small spaces in mind because you can move it out of the way when you aren't using it.

small kitchen ideas rolling cart
David A. Land

Use Vertical Space

Make the most of your space by hanging pots in multiple places. Keep your most-used pots and pans above your oven, and then your speciality cookware above your kitchen island (or the other way around, your call).

small kitchen ideas copper pots
Victoria Pearson

Spruce up Basic Cabinets

High-end kitchen design details can take an extra-small space (hello, mini fridge!) and make it feel larger than life. Here, patterned tile, turquoise paint and gold hardware make this tiny space look luxe.

RELATED: Best Kitchen Paint Colors to Try Out

small kitchen ideas
Buff Strickland

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