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Best small kitchen designs and layouts

Galley kitchen

A galley kitchen, usually consisting of 2 parallel units with a corridor down the middle, is a common small kitchen set up - particularly in open plan homes.

The most practical set up for these kind of kitchens is to have your three main kitchen features - sink, hob and fridge - forming a triangle with two on one unit and one on the other.

If your galley kitchen only has one unit against a wall, you could increase your work space by adding a kitchen island with extra worktops, storage space and even some chairs to create a new dining area.

Small Kitchens Galley Kitchen
Instagram: @ashford_kitchens

U-shaped kitchen

A U-shaped kitchen is ideal for a small kitchen design. The u-shape offers plenty of worktop counter space.

You can make the most of your corners by installing corner cupboards with plenty of storage space.

One thing to consider is that a narrow U can give you a slight feeling of being hemmed in.

If this is the case, consider only putting top cabinets on one side and installing open shelving on the other to give a more spacious feel.

Small Kitchens U Shaped Kitchen
Instagram: @spillerskitchens

L-shaped kitchen

A great kitchen space saver, L-shaped kitchens are useful for small flats with open plan kitchen diners.

In this arrangement, position the sink and hob on separate units if possible, with the fridge on one end so as not to break up the flow of the worktop.

The open style of an L-shape means you can safely install top cupboards on both units without the height seeming oppressive.

Small Kitchens L Shaped Kitchen
Instagram: @ashford_kitchens

Best colour schemes for a tiny kitchen

The colour schemes you choose can go a long way to making a tiny kitchen look bigger.

Small white kitchen ideas

The lighter and brighter a room is, the more spacious it will feel, so try to incorporate as much white or cream into your kitchen as possible.

Using white consistently across all the elements of your kitchen - worktops, cabinets, walls and floors - creates a seamless space that feels more open.

White is also perfect for making the most of the natural light, reflecting light throughout the space, and making it feel bigger and brighter.

If you're worried about a white kitchen feeling too cold and clinical, use light wood finishes (flooring, countertops, shelves) to add some character and warmth.

Small Kitchens White Kitchen
Instagram: @ashford_kitchens

Choosing a colour palette

Of course, you’ll want some colour variation. When you’re choosing your pairing colours, opt for tones in a similar palette that blend together rather than contrasting.

A fresh layer of paint is a great idea to refresh your small kitchen on a budget.

If you can’t do without a few pops of bold colour, limit it to a few accessories. Crockery, vases and small appliances like kettles and toasters all offer opportunities to feature a statement colour.

Small blue kitchen ideas

When mixed with white, a blue kitchen feels calm and serene, opening up the limited space.

For a classic look, go with a deep navy that will contrast well with natural wood, white or marble countertops. Or if you want a more contemporary feel, splashes of bright, bold blue will work wonders to liven up your kitchen.

Small Kitchens Blue Kitchen
Instagram: @kbkstudio

Black and white small kitchen ideas

Black in a small space can feel like a risky choice, but when used right black can make your kitchen look sleek and chic!

Consider a monochrome patterned floor tile, or using white on long walls and black on shorter walls can make your kitchen appear wider.

Small Kitchens Monochrome Kitchen
Instagram: @sheratonkitchens

Grey small kitchen ideas

When there is little contrast in your colour palette, a room can seem larger as the elements blend into each other more.

A grey kitchen is a great option as it’s easy to match different shades, but in fact this approach works for any colour.

Simply choose a light, mid and dark hue of your chosen colour, and distribute between surfaces for contract.

Small Kitchens Grey Kitchen
Instagram: @kitchenscontinental

Best worktops for a small kitchen

Colour will also have an impact on what worktops you select. Dark worktops will feel oppressive in a small kitchen, so stick to light, neutral colours when picking your counter surface.

Glossy, reflective surfaces have a similar effect, so consider a material with a little shine such as laminate, quartz or stainless steel for your small kitchen worktops.

Small Kitchens Worktops
Instagram: @london_kitchens

Best sinks and dishwashers for a small kitchen

With limited space available, you need to think carefully about how you incorporate a sink or dishwasher.

As a sink is more multifunctional, you may choose to go without a dishwasher all together if you're short on space.

If you have limited worktop space, an under-mount sink that sits just below the surface of your worktop frees up more preparation space and creates a minimalist look.

If you have slightly more surface space available, you could also consider a 1.5 bowl sink, with a second, smaller bowl and drain that’s handy for hiding dirty dishes without cluttering up your workspace.

Small Kitchens Sink
Instagram: @cpmcarpentryjoinery

If you can’t do without a dishwasher, consider a more compact one that only takes up half the height of a cupboard unit, or rolls out like a drawer instead of a door that obstructs valuable floor space when open.

Storage ideas for a small kitchen


Many of the best small kitchen ideas centre around how you efficiently use your cabinetry to maximise worktop space and eliminate clutter.

Start by sticking to your colour rule, selecting cabinets in light tones that match the colour palette of your surfaces, walls and floors.

Reflective glass cabinet doors will help to create a sense of larger space, and you can streamline your cabinets by selecting handle-less doors.

If you have a set of top cabinets, shallow cupboards will open up the room, especially in a U-shaped small kitchen.

Small Kitchens Cabinets
Instagram: @mackintoshkitchens

Choosing top cabinetry that leave a gap between the top of the cupboard and the ceiling can also help to give a more airy feel, as well as providing an extra storage opportunity.

If you’re going to store things on top of your cabinets, put them out of sight or keep them organised to avoid it looking overcrowded and messy.

Corner cupboard

When choosing cabinets for your small kitchen, choose a unit with a corner cupboard.

They provide a huge storage resource without taking up a lot of door space in the unit, and while they’re not the most easily accessible they are perfect for stashing all the kitchenware you don’t use often.

Small Kitchens Corner Cupboard
Instagram: @kbkstudio


A great storage idea for narrow kitchens is to replace top cabinets with open shelves, making your kitchen feel wider. However they must be kept tidy, or the clutter will leave the space looking crowded!

To keep things neat, consider investing in some pretty storage containers like glass mason jars or wicker baskets.

Small Kitchens Shelving
Instagram: @sheratonkitchens

Storage trolley

Even in small kitchens, there are usually a few pesky gaps that are too big to waste. A slimline storage trolley is the perfect solution for filling these spaces, and can be wheeled around to wherever it’s most needed.

They’re an ideal home for frequently used utensils and ingredients that you always want close to hand when you’re cooking.

Small Kitchens Storage Trolley
Instagram: @mypatchofsunshine

How to fit an island in a small kitchen

If you want a kitchen island but have a small kitchen, don’t give up the dream! There are several ways you can incorporate an island into your kitchen, even when space is limited.

Size down

You may not have room for a full-size standalone island, but selecting a square or narrow unit can help you fit an island in without compromising on room space. You can even gain extra storage space by building shelves or cupboards into the unit.

Small Kitchens Small Island
Instagram: @atlantiskitchensltd

Play with design

Not all kitchen are created equal; a few little kitchen design tweaks can make all the difference!

Consider an island with rounded edges, which will limit the extent to which the island protrudes into your walking space and improve the flow around it.

Small Kitchens Rounded Counter Island
Instagram: @venturakitchens

If a block kitchen island unit feels too heavy in your small kitchen, experiment with a multi-level unit where one corner drops lower than the rest.

It’s a more flexible shape for a small space, and can even be turned into a seating nook with the addition of some cosy cushions.

Try a peninsula

While islands are isolated by definition, a kitchen peninsula is attached to a wall so as to avoid interrupting the flow of the room.

This often enables it to be bigger, opening up more feature options like cupboards, drawers and dining space. Just grab a couple of stools to add a handy hang-out area to your kitchen!

Small Kitchens Peninsula Island
Instagram: @shortmanstowe

If you have limited floor space in your kitchen but are craving the trendy look of a kitchen island, a peninsula could be the perfect choice.

Decorating your small kitchen

Accessorising is an important part of interior design. But in a small space, an overly decorated room can feel cluttered and cramped.

Keep kitchen decor items to a minimum - a plant on the corner counter, or a simple picture on the wall is fine. But avoid filling your counter space with too many decorative items.

You should now be full of new ideas for making the most of your small kitchen! Follow our tips to make your kitchen look and feel bigger, while remaining a practical and welcoming room in your house.