1. Home
  2. Blog
  3. How to Decorate
  4. Small Kitchen Design: Expert Tips to Make Your Space Look Great
small kitchen design ideas subway tiles black grout galley kitchen

Small Kitchen Design: Expert Tips to Make Your Space Look Great

Approaching a small kitchen design is much the same as taking on a larger space, save for a few additional considerations. In today’s post we’re examining the things you need to think about when putting a kitchen together, with some bonus small-space ideas from the expert to boot!

Kitchen Styling Ideas on TLC Interiors

Taking on a kitchen reno or building one from scratch is pretty exciting. That excitement shouldn’t dwindle just because you’re faced with a kitchen that might be smaller than you’d dreamed of. The fact is that you can still have a stunning kitchen in a modest space, you just need to be clever about designing it.

I’ve called in expert Rodney Hawkins from The Cabinet House to talk us through some of the things to think about when taking on a small kitchen design. But truth be told, a lot of these tips can transfer over into larger spaces too.

Here, Rodney talks us through four main considerations and how he helps clients design their dream kitchens. Please feel free to reach out to Rodney over on The Cabinet House website if you need some additional assistance when it comes to small kitchen design.

Small Kitchen Design Tips from the Expert

Corner cupboard drawers in shaker style kitchen small kitchen design

Storage and Function Ideas

Draws are huge storage solution when designing for a small space as they can be designed and sized for specific items that we have in the kitchen.

It’s important to look at what you have in your kitchen regarding small appliances, plates, Tupperware etc and allocate space for them. There is no need to have a two-door cabinet to store your dinner plates as a lot of space will be wasted in that area. This space would be better used by dividing the cabinet into 3 draws as we can then allocate certain kitchen items to that space.

Also, within the draw itself we can also incorporate an inner draw. These can be helpful if we have a larger draw for saucepans and pots, the inner draw will sit above this and give us the room for lids and covers that go with the pans below.

There is a large selection of clever wire-ware components that we can incorporate into the kitchen as well. This include slide out racking for spices, chopping boards, cooking oils, corner cabinet solutions and slide out pantries as well, which can be accessed from either side. These components can dramatically increase the storage capacity of a small kitchen.

Kitchen Design Ideas - Monochromatic Kitchen Colours

Lighting the Space: Natural and Artificial 

Natural lighting will make any space feel larger than what it is. You may not have the choice to change or add additional windows into your home, but if you keep clutter around windows and use minimal window treatments this will allow more of the natural light to enter the kitchen area.

A clean white blind is a cost effective method of a window treatment that will allow the natural sunlight to enter the space but also give you privacy if needed. If we can not add or change the window location in the house/apartment it may be possible to add a skylight to the kitchen area to maximise the natural light. These are particular helpful if the kitchen has been located within the middle of the house/apartment.

Bonus Tip from Chris: Some skylights are as inexpensive as $100. You have to pay for installation on top of that, of course, but it’s worth considering this as a lighting option in a small kitchen. More on that here.

Once we have looked at all possible ways to incorporate more natural lighting into the design we then need to see if we have any dark or hidden areas that need brighten up.

I encourage my clients to upgrade their current lighting fixtures when re designing a kitchen to incorporate LED bulbs. They have a enormous impact over the older style halogen bulbs, and it may be as simple as changing a few bulbs in your current kitchen will completely change the way your kitchen feels. Also, they are more cost effective item to operate.

Pendant lighting not only will add some extra warmth to the kitchen but will also add some directional lighting over a work space if needed.

House Rules Reveal - Adeliade - Yellow Kitchen

The Best Layout for Small Spaces

The layout of your kitchen is the most important step in the design process of your new kitchen. When designing a new kitchen ask yourself ‘what do I dislike about my current kitchen?’.

I ask my clients for as much feed back as possible, as this will give me a better understanding of what areas we need to address.

Due to the shape of the kitchen footprint we may not be able to change the layout dramatically, however it may be possible to remove a wall between an adjoin dinning or living room. This will make the kitchen space feel larger by giving you the open plan concept, whilst keeping to the original sizing of the kitchen.

A ‘U’ shape kitchen will give you more storage space and practical work space within the allocated kitchen area. However these designs can limit the amount of people that can use the kitchen at any one time.

When I work with a client about the design of the kitchen, I ask how many people will be using the kitchen anytime. As we all have different needs, there is no set rule to kitchen design and layout. This is the benefit of having a kitchen custom made to your space as appose to buying cabinetry of the shelf.

If space is limited but both parties want to cook together the design of a galley style or L shape with an island bench may work better if space permits. 

small kitchen design ideas subway tiles black grout galley kitchen

The Best Finishes for the Kitchen

The last process when designing a kitchen for a small space is what colour and finishes can we use in the kitchen.

If space is limited, white is your best friend. White will reflect the light within the kitchen and enhance the sense of space as well. By incorporating different shades of white and different textures in the walls and cabinetry it will eliminate that sterile feel from an all white room.

By adding some feature glass cabinet doors as well, this will also soften the room as well as add some interest to the kitchen area.

A lot of clients are requesting the hand-less design and sleek look from an all white kitchen. When selecting this look, I advise my clients that whilst a white gloss kitchen will reflect the lighting with the space and make the room feel larger than what it already is, you will have the issue of finger prints on the doors and draws which will require extra cleaning as we now have incorporated more natural and LED lighting into the space.

Satin finish will give you a fantastic look in the kitchen and will also reduce the amount of seen fingerprints on the cabinet doors and draws.

Ceramic tiles and stainless steel products will also reflect the natural and artificial light in the kitchen area, thus making the kitchen space feel larger.

Whilst keeping with an all white theme in the kitchen a pop of subtle colour will draw the eye and add interest to the space. Whether this be a vase or a fruit bowl or something else you like, these items can be changed easily to change the look and feel.

Find out more about all things kitchens over on The Cabinet House website.

Are you trying to work with a small kitchen design, or undertaking a reno and have some questions you need answered? Drop a comment below and share your query. 

 Photo Credits: 1 | 2 | 34 | 5


Chris Carroll

Outside of writing this blog, Chris is an interior designer, presenter and author. He’s also spent time on TV, on Channel 10’s Changing Rooms, as well presenting segments on Channel 7’s Sunrise and The Morning Show. If you’d like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

Related Posts​

4 Responses

  1. Think about every little thing you use in a kitchen and plan a place for it (from dishcloths to a slow cooker)

  2. Hi. I want to extend the back of my house. I want to do a wooden construction to save cost. I will be building on top of solid decking that s well built. I will be joking onto my side garage and next doors garage. The front of it will be white cladding or timber like in some of your photos on the website. I will have a felt roof sloping and French doors and a window. This will be built onto my brick house. My next door are ok with it so can I just go straight ahead. I know my limits on size. Any help appreciated. Thanks.

    1. Hi Thecead, too complicated a question to answer here sorry. I’d encourage you to hire a local interior designer even for just a one-off consult so they can give you some expert advice after seeing the site and your plans.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


I’m interior designer Chris Carroll, and at TLC Interiors we’re all about helping you create an amazing home without breaking the bank. It’s affordable designer style at its best, and we make the whole process easy and fun for clients & readers alike!

Latest Articles