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6 Small Kitchen Tips

White kitchen with Ikea backsplash organizer

Backsplash organizers take advantage of untapped space in your kitchen and free up countertops and cabinet space. Shown: organizers from the Ikea Grundtal series.

Sensible Style, by Jamie Goldberg, AKBD, CAPS, a kitchen designer and writer in Tampa, FL, is about kitchens that work as hard as you do. It's about materials that are durable and easy to maintain; a work flow that fits your hectic schedule; and creating a kitchen that reflects your priorities, your budget and your lifestyle.

This posting tackles the two most vexing issues associated with small kitchens: how to maximize your storage capacity and how to make a small kitchen look great. Small kitchens never seem to have enough cupboard space for all the items their owners want to store. After carefully culling to make sure you're only storing items regularly used for cooking, meal preparation and clean up in your kitchen, you can increase your storage capacity in several ways. 


Tip #1: Use your backsplash

Backsplashes offer dozens of square feet of untapped storage potential. Usually considered only for decorative purposes, these 18- inch spans between your countertops and wall cabinets can be put to great use as zoned, organized storage. For example, you can clear some counter space by installing a backsplash-mounted utensil crock near your cooktop. You could also mount a spice organizer in your meal prep zone, freeing up some cabinet storage


Tip #2: Use empty walls or ceiling space

Enclume wall mount pot rack

This wall-mounted pot rack by Enclume lets you take advantage of unused wall space in your kitchen for both hanging and shelf top storage.




Even small kitchens typically have an unused wall or ceiling space above a peninsula that can be tapped for additional storage. By adding a pot rack to your kitchen, you can free up base cabinet space that would otherwise hold your cookware. There are racks available in almost any style and size to accommodate your needs. Small kitchens typically lack islands, but a peninsula housing a cooktop can be a good spot to tap into added storage potential.


Tip #3: Use the back of doors

Rev-A-Shelf cabinet organizer

This wood door storage shelf set by Rev-a-Shelf can be added to your base cabinets to increase their organization and storage potential.


Another way to add organization and storage capacity to your kitchen is to install accessories on the backs of doors. For example, you can hang an organizer for your cleaning supplies behind the door of the cabinet holding your sink. Additionally, you can add pantry capacity by putting a canned goods or food wrap holder on the back of its door. There are numerous options that can add to your kitchen's efficiency, as well as its storage potential.


Tip #4: Minimize contrasts
Compact kitchens tend to look smaller and choppier when there are too many colors and patterns running through them. Minimizing contrasts, on the other hand, makes them feel airier and spacious. You can achieve this effect by selecting solid-colored countertops, for example, and maple or painted cabinets, rather than oak, hickory or glazed finishes.


SieMatic compact kitchen with gray and beige cabinets

This compact kitchen from SieMatic looks larger because the cabinets match the shelving and countertops, and the wall, flooring and appliances coordinate to minimize contrasts.



Tip #5: Add glass
Replacing solid door fronts on your wall cabinets with glass fronts can also make your small kitchen look larger and brighter. To enhance the space-enhancing effect, you can paint the insides of your cabinets the same color as your walls.


Kitchen with glass cabinets and yellow walls.

This kitchen by designer Laurie Burke of Westlake Village, CA, looks larger and brighter thanks to its glass-front wall cabinets.



Tip #6: Light it up

Small kitchen with undercabinet and in-cabinet lighting.

This small kitchen by Kitchen/Interior Showcase in Spokane, WA, features three layers of lighting to enhance its beauty and spaciousness.



Kitchens look better-and bigger-with great lighting. When I take on a kitchen design project for my clients, I always look for every opportunity to add lights to the space. This includes ceiling-mounted fixtures or recessed cans, undercabinet lighting, and (where applicable) island or peninsula lighting. Sometimes I also apply above-cabinet and in-cabinet accent lighting. This layered approach to lighting makes working in the space easier and safer. It also enhances the beauty of your countertops, cabinets and flooring.




Kitchen and bath designer Jamie Goldberg

© 2009, Jamie Goldberg, AKBD, CAPS. Excerpted from Gold Notes: Nuggets from the World of Residential Design. Jamie is an NKBA-certified designer of kitchens and baths in San Diego, CA, and offers Sensible Style for Home Seller consultations around the country. She can be reached at (619) 796-2217 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.








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