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12 Design Tricks To Make A Small Kitchen Look & Feel Bigger

Stuck for ways to make your small kitchen look bigger? Are you worried its small size is going to mean a dark and dingy room? Fear not!

There are lots of clever kitchen design tricks to make your small kitchen look and feel bigger, airier and just as functional!

Let’s get into it!

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Prefer watching videos? Check out mine below👇

How to make a small kitchen look Bigger

Light and Bright Walls Colours

Transforming a small kitchen into a seemingly more spacious area can be as simple as applying a fresh coat of light-coloured paint to the walls.

Light colours naturally reflect more light, which in turn makes the space feel open and airy.

When your walls are painted in soft hues such as whites, light greys, or pastels, they create an optical illusion that pushes the boundaries of the room outward.

This choice is not just about aesthetics; it’s a popular design technique that uses the psychological effects of colour to enhance the perception of space.

Light and bright wall colours to make a small kitchen look bigger
Image – deVOL

Walls and Cabinets in the Same Colour

Adopting a more monochromatic colour scheme (or colour-drenching almost) by painting both walls and cabinets (especially wall cabinets) the same colour is a simple but clever design approach to creating a seamless blend in your kitchen.

This design choice minimizes visual interruptions and boundaries within the space, allowing the kitchen to appear more unified and expansive.

By eliminating the contrast between the walls and cabinets, you effectively blur the lines where one surface ends and another begins, making a small kitchen look bigger and more cohesive.

Walls and cabinets the same colour to make a small kitchen look bigger
Image – deVOL

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Embracing a Low Contrast Colour Scheme

By selecting colours that are close in tone for walls, cabinetry, and even countertops, you create a gentle, unified look that visually expands the area of a small kitchen space.

This strategy aims to blend elements smoothly, avoiding stark contrasts.

The result is a soothing, cohesive environment that feels more spacious and less visually cluttered.

Embracing harmonious hues doesn’t mean sacrificing colour or personality in your kitchen design.

Instead, it involves a careful selection of shades that complement each other, lying within the same colour family or on a close spectrum. Think tonal colour theory. 🎨

For instance, soft beiges, warm greys, and muted pastels can work together to foster a sense of openness and light.

Have a play around with my Tonal Colour Tool below 👇

Tonal Colour Tool

Selected Colour:
Tonal Colours:

Strategic Cabinet Placement

For a brighter kitchen, try to avoid placing wall cabinets too close to windows to prevent blocking natural light.

This goes for tall cabinets too. While they are excellent for storage, if positioned improperly, they can dominate the space and make it feel cramped.

Ideally, tall cabinets should be located at the ends of the kitchen where they do not obstruct views into the room. This placement helps preserve the room's openness.

In fact, having too many full-height cabinets is a quick way to make a small space feel heavy and overwhelming.

So think carefully about how many you include if you want your small kitchen to look bigger.

Balance is key! ⚖️

For a brighter kitchen, try to avoid placing wall cabinets too close to windows to prevent blocking natural light.

Opting for No Wall Cabinets or Open Shelves

This approach reduces the visual weight that upper cabinets can impose, making the space feel more open and airy with a lighter look.

Without the bulk of wall cabinets, the kitchen appears larger, as the eye can travel more freely around the room without interruption.

Open shelving is another option if no upper cabinets feels too extreme. You get the benefit of a lighter airier feel but still retain some storage functionality.

For those concerned about losing storage space, a mix of a few closed cabinets and open shelving can offer a balanced solution. Just giving your wall cabinets a little more space to breathe can work wonders!

Opting for no upper cabinets or only open shelving can be a bold move and is certainly not for everyone. However, it is a great way to help create that illusion of more space in a small kitchen.

No upper wall cabinets helping to make a small kitchen feel larger
Image - Nordiska Kök

Shallow Depth Cabinets

Installing shallow cabinets offers a smart storage solution that balances functionality with space-saving options.

Shallow cabinets, being less deep than their standard counterparts, reduce the risk of encroaching upon the usable kitchen area while still providing ample storage for kitchen essentials.

Perfect if your room isn't quite wide enough for full-depth cabinets on a particular side (or if you just want to make your small kitchen look bigger!) 😃

Plus, the shallower depth means items stored are easily reachable, eliminating the all-too-common inconvenience of digging through deep cabinets.

Having full-height shallow cabinets as pantry-style storage is a really functional design, regardless of how big your kitchen is.

Shallow depth cabinets on one wall making a compact kitchen feel larger

More Natural Light

Incorporating more natural light is basically a cheat code to make a small kitchen feel more open and spacious.

Having larger windows or installing skylights can dramatically increase the amount of sunlight entering the space, which not only enhances the sense of openness but also elevates the overall mood and atmosphere.

Expanding window sizes brings in more of the outdoors, visually extending the kitchen’s boundaries and blurring the lines between inside and outside. This connection to the exterior makes the kitchen feel larger than its physical dimensions.

Similarly, skylights can flood the space with overhead light, drawing the eye upwards and creating a sense of height and volume that is particularly effective in compact spaces.

More natural light in a small kitchen to make it look and feel bigger
Image - Harvey Jones

Keeping Surfaces Clear and Small Appliances Hidden

Keeping counter space clear of unnecessary items and small appliances does wonders for making a kitchen feel more spacious.

It provides a cleaner look and more room for food preparation, making the kitchen more functional and less crowded.

Hidden storage solutions, like an appliance garage or cabinets with pocket doors, offer a place to tuck away toasters, blenders, and other kitchen gadgets when they're not in use.

This not only helps in reducing visual clutter but also contributes to a more streamlined and cohesive design aesthetic.

The less clutter and more clear space the bigger and more expansive the room is going to feel.

Embrace your inner minimalist! 

A kitchen appliance garage to hide small appliances and make a kitchen look less cluttered
Image - Studio Minosa

Integrating Appliances To Blend In with the Kitchen

Integrating appliances can take various forms, from using panel-ready appliances (my preferred choice) to choosing appliances that fit flush with cabinetry or counters, rather than deeper appliances that stick out.

This seamless integration helps maintain a continuous, unbroken line of sight across the kitchen, making the space appear larger and more cohesive.

Your fridge, dishwasher and even range hood can be designed to blend in, with finishes that match the cabinetry or wall finish and colour, minimizing visual clutter and emphasizing a clean, minimalist aesthetic.

Choosing a Mirror Backsplash

A classic design trick that leverages the power of reflection to bounce light around the room, instantly making the space feel brighter and more open.

A mirror backsplash not only adds an element of interest but also creates an optical illusion that doubles the visual depth of the space, making it appear larger than its actual dimensions.

Mirror backsplashes come in various styles, from clean, polished and seamless full length panels to tiled and antique finishes, offering flexibility to match any kitchen aesthetic.

They can serve as a statement piece or a more subtle addition, depending on the design and finish you choose.

Mirror backsplash in a small kitchen
Image - Harvey Jones

Using Vertical Wall Tiles to Enhance Room Height

Incorporating vertical wall tiles into a kitchen design is a strategic move to visually stretch the room's height, creating an illusion of a taller space. (Horizontal lines make a room feel wider.)

This approach plays on the human eye's perception, drawing attention upwards and making the ceilings appear higher than they are. Giving an illusion of space.

Vertical tiles can be used as a backsplash, around the entire room, or in specific areas to create focal points or to highlight architectural features.

The choice of tile size, colour, and texture also plays a significant role in achieving the desired effect.

Long, narrow tiles or subway tiles placed in a vertical pattern can accentuate the height-enhancing effect, while lighter colours and glossy finishes reflect light, contributing to a brighter and more open feel.

So playing around with various colours, finishes and laying patterns can create a variety of visual effects.

Vertical wall tiles to create illusion of a bigger kitchen

Selecting Large Format Floor Tiles

This approach plays on the minimalistic aesthetic of fewer grout lines, which in turn, enhances the floor's visual continuity.

The expansive surface area of each tile allows the eye to perceive a more unobstructed and sweeping view of the floor, making the kitchen appear broader and more spacious than it actually is.

Large format tiles come in a variety of materials, including porcelain, ceramic, and stone, offering a range of textures, colours, and finishes to suit any kitchen design.

Again, the choice of a light colour palette can further amplify the sense of space, as lighter hues reflect more light, contributing to a brighter and airier feel.

Bonus points for flooring continuity between adjoining rooms (if you can) to help blend and enlarge your kitchen's floor print. 👍

Large format floor tiles to make a small kitchen feel bigger
Image - Quorn Stone

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What mistakes should you avoid if you want a bright and airy kitchen?

To ensure your kitchen remains bright and feels spacious, avoid these key mistakes:

  • Lack of Light: Make sure your kitchen has plenty of both natural and artificial light. Insufficient lighting can make the space feel dark and cramped.
  • Dark Colour Scheme: Using dark colours extensively can absorb light and make the space feel smaller. Opt for light or neutral colours for walls, cabinets, and countertops to enhance the sense of openness.
  • Clutter: Keep countertops and open shelving clutter-free. Too much clutter can visually shrink the space and make it feel less airy.
  • Blocking Natural Light: Avoid placing large objects near windows or using heavy window treatments that can block natural light from entering the kitchen.

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Author

Michael from Kitchinsider.com

Michael is a kitchen designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new kitchen installations for over 10 years. Before that, he was an electrician and part of a team that fitted kitchens. He created Kitchinsider in early 2019 to help give people advice when it comes to getting a new kitchen.