Small Spaces: 4 Cool Kitchen Makeover Tips

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My kitchen has always been small, lacking in work space as well as storage. Years ago I painted the cabinets and added a back splash, temporarily making it brighter until I could tackle big time renovations. Life happened and those renovations are still having to be put on hold, leaving me with a too small kitchen lacking in function. With the help of World Market’s Fall Collection along with the Small Spaces Collection, I decided to tackle this problem head on, enjoying my kitchen now and doing what I could to improve it for my family.

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Typically a small kitchen means there is not enough storage and not enough workspace. This means that most people go for function and forget the “style” aspect of a kitchen. I enjoy decorating my home and have put my stamp on every room. Because of my small kitchen, I have always kept the clutter to a bare minimum, only putting a few essentials on the countertop. This alleviates the feeling of clutter and allows me to use that limited counter space I have, but it was lacking in function. I needed storage – so much storage. My cabinets were overflowing with plates, bowls, and food since none of it could be set out on the precious tiny square footage of countertop.

I accomplished my kitchen makeover with a few important tips:

Tip 1: Assess the Situation

I needed to figure out exactly how I could use my kitchen differently. Knocking down a wall was not an option, and the neither was moving or removing the cabinets or counter. In my case, I realized one portion of my kitchen highly under-utilize: the breakfast bar counter. I have always ignored this space, setting a small vase on it and leaving it as is. Which is definitely a big time no-no with a small kitchen…. every surface should be used to it’s full potential!

I have three young kids, and in our small kitchen, making a meal with them (and our two dogs) hanging around is impossible – I literally trip over them. The easiest solution to this is to clear the bar top, add some amazing bar stools and voila! This unused space in my kitchen becomes a seating area, perfect for homework time or even as a food prep space when needed. Now my kids can sit here and talk to me while I’m working in the kitchen without them being in the way. I just need to find a solution for the two shadows that are my dogs, and I am set! This little area has become my kids’ go-to breakfast spot.

Tip 2: Get Creative with Unused Space

The next area to figure out is the eat-in portion of my kitchen. I have a formal dining room where our dinner table resides, so we’ve never had a kitchen table in the actual kitchen eat-in space, which has long served as my kids’ reading spot and art table. Since my kids have gotten older and their books and art supplies have moved to their rooms, I now see this area functioning as part of the kitchen again.

If you don’t have a eat-in area like this, or if this is your only dining room space, you can still get creative by moving out of the kitchen for some extra function. Kitchen and bar carts are a simple solution to cheating and creating more usable surfaces for your kitchen when cooking or storing food and dinnerware. You can even dress it up and have it sit on a wall in your living room without it feeling too “kitchen specific.” The one I have has wheels, so it could be rolled into the kitchen when needed, then back out toward the living room with a few pictures or a pretty vase to add to the living room decor. You can still keep the bottom half for storage of food or even pots and pans set in large baskets to hide them from view. When dealing with a small space, getting creative is key!

World Market small kitchen ideas (1 of 1)

As a bonus, the blank wall above the cart is now full of style and function! I’ve found a way to organize the catch-all portion of my kitchen that is mail and other papers. Using a small space wall organizer, I can put mail, keys or notes in there until I’m able to sort through them. The hooks allow extra cooking items to be stored. It may not seem like a lot, but one or two bowls hanging here means less items I have to find a place for in my cabinets, every little bit helps!

Tip 3: Go Bold, Go Big

When it comes to small spaces, going big with decor, art or decorations is usually not how people think. Overwhelming, a small space is the last thing anyone wants to accessorize, and using smaller accents seems like the more obvious solution. But, don’t be scared to go big and bold with a few items. This large wall art brings color to the space, since my cooking area is a wall decor-free zone. Having these two beauties hanging above the kitchen cart  and on the wall by my back door brings instant style to my kitchen without taking up usable space.

The kitchen cart takes my fruit off of the counter and puts it into the drawers, giving me even more countertop workspace. As I said, thinking about your area in a different way can make a big impact in a small space. Freeing up counter space and having all of this fruit in the kitchen cart drawers makes a huge difference!

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Tip 4: Think Visually

Bringing blue, white and gray into the kitchen matches the rest of my home and creates a great visual flow from one room to the next. Of course with any small space, only a few select decor items can be used because space is at a premium in here. Like this cute and narrow small set of vases or even using plates, cups or bowls that go with your color scheme is a sneaky way to bring in color and decor without taking away from the kitchen. I fell in love with these fun patterned blue and white coffee cups, tea cups and bowls. I am all for pops of color, and with them being blue, it was pretty much love at first sight! The dinnerware plates are a more subtle color but just as pretty with differing patterns. An open shelf like this marble-patterned one is a simple way to display those pretty dinnerware items, tying in the colors of the decorations while serving as usable storage.

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I used a ton of clear glass canisters to place various food items on the counter top. I know, I know… I mentioned not taking up counter space, however this little corner by the sink is at an awkward angle so I never used it for any kind of food prep. Setting these containers here with stored food items is a functional way to use this vacant corner.

The rolling cart is so big I’m able to add a place to set more canisters and fill them with snacks. The shelf on the bottom is perfect for any surplus of food that needs to be stored. I filled the baskets with other snack items that are easy for my kids to grab. If they were toddlers this set-up would not work, but now that they are all elementary school age, having a little independence in the kitchen is a great thing.

I added a big and plush rug to the small living room to create more visual separation between it and the kitchen and breakfast bar. Comfy seating and fluffy pillows make the whole area more cozy, while improving the kitchen flow. With a small space, carving out use for every corner of that room is key.

The most important thing about my kitchen makeover is that I did not have to compromise on style. I prioritize how a room looks, all of the decor items are a big deal to me. Adding in some great pops of color, texture with the wood items, marbled accents and even the pattern in the napkins really blend my kitchen with the rest of my home. We’re a busy family of 5 in an average size home (with a small kitchen) and it needs to function and be utilized 100%.

Taking the time to think fresh with the space, creating that blank slate to then find new ways to use the room is the biggest step to making a small space work. The decorative accents make my home decor-loving heart happy. The function, added work space, and storage make my busy and hectic family happy. Blending those things together into a cohesive and improved kitchen is the best feeling!

Discover more big ideas for petite room makeovers in our Small Spaces Guide!

29 Comments

  • B.

    I’ll bet this kitchen is only 9.5′ X 9.5′. You can see the 18″ base of each of the barstools. Three stools equal 54″, add three inches between each and the bar equals 61″ (approx. 5 feet). Add a 2-1/2″ walkway and another 2″ deep counter on the right.
    It’s a lovely small kitchen.

    • Emily, Our house now a home

      Hi, I wrote this article and you are pretty much spot on with my kitchen dimensions, that is impressive. I guess the light and bright color scheme I picked did the trick of making the space feel larger than it is. 🙂 Thank you for the support!

  • Kathie

    She has a small u-shaped kitchen!! Did you rude people not notice she put the bar cart in the small living room area?? Beautiful kitchen and great ideas!

  • Kaybee

    The cart is AWESOME. Too large for my tiny kitchen but I have a cart and you have given me an idea as to where to store my pressure cooker. HA Adorable kitchen, sorry people have to be so rude and nasty. Nothing better to do with their time, I guess. Thanks for sharing.

  • Paula

    I think what you’ve done is lovely. My kitchen has less counter space than yours and I cannot afford to give up any. I’ve put my microwave above my stove top and utilized that counter space for food prep. There are lots of over the stove models.

  • Bernie

    While your kitchen is not huge, I wouldnt call it small either. We bought a house with ONE kitchen drawer, and only room for cabinets on one side. My blank wall has a ton of stuff hanging on it, and I really like it. I’d love your cart, but twice as long and half as deep……I’ll keep looking!

  • Chermaine Cerniglia

    I admire you for having such a clean kitchen also you are so organized and decorated so beautifully.

  • Chermaine Cerniglia

    I admire you your for keeping your kitchen so clean ,organized,and also beautiful

  • Paulette

    Your kitchen is lovely. I do agree, however, that this kitchen is not small. My kitchen has no room for a cart, no free wall, no breakfast counter to sit, and only fits the smallest size refrigerator. I also have half the cabinets you have. I have a wonderful cart that would fit nowhere, not in the middle and there is no wall space. I would love to see someone tackle a truly small kitchen ( mine is 9×9 from wall to wall. The cabinets and appliances use most of that space.) Great job on making the best of what you have. I’m jealous of all your space, however.

  • Cat

    You did an absolutely beautiful job!!! I’m so proud of you!

  • Laura

    I think your idea rocks and I’m going to try it. It gets frustrating when preparing for company and there is just not enough room in the kitchen for me, grandkids and grownups to have dinner. So thank you ! And I do want to mention that in a couple of your picture’s I did see a very nice back yard in case anyone was wondering about where your dog food tray and dog would be…lol!!!

  • Laura

    Thank you very much for your tips. I’m going to try it, I have a very small kitchen and it is frustrating to run out of counter space as your preparing dinner for company and there is just not enough room in the kitchen for, grandkids, grown-ups and conversation lol ! So I think your idea rocks. And in one of your pictures I did see a nice back yard in case anyone was wondering about your dog … lol !

  • Maggie

    The bowl’s for your pets could be stored under that awesome cart while not in use.

  • Maggie

    The pet’s bowles could be stored under that awesome cart while not in use.

  • VA

    She said she had dogs in the article….? AMerrilees. What part of her kitchen makeover needs to include her pets?

  • Liliana

    Lovely… I will paint my kitchen white too.😉

  • Melissa

    It’s ludicrous that this woman thinks this is a “small kitchen”. How privileged can you get?

    • Stav

      No more privileged than someone being able to surf social media anytime they want attempting to demean people sharing their work.

      While the rustic look is not my preferred style, I love the rolling cart idea! The color scheme is wonderful

    • CJ Crider

      How rude can you get? The actual kitchen is tiny and u shaped. How about just appreciating the tips? I thought she had valid ideas to increase the utilization of such a small space. I have a galley style kitchen which is long and narrow with some negative space that I could be using. Thanks, this is a great article.

    • Linda

      I agree with Melissa. Anyone that has a kitchen this size should feel very fortunate. I certainly would!!

  • Cynthia

    Great ideas and beautifully done! It’s amazing how clean you are able to keep your home with two dogs, too!!! Can’t wait to make my small kitchen space more functional and feel more open and expansive 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration and very useful tips!!!

  • AMerrilees

    Have you ever considered that many of us have pets. Dogs and cats must be thought about just like doing child-proofing for kids. Can you design a house with pets in mind?

    • VA

      Replied to you above.

    • Verbena

      Maybe ask nicely. Gees! Who are you people?

      • Whitney Espinoza

        What Verbena said 👆👆 such ill mannored people around these days. Beyond words how someone could think up a reason to be rude here.
        Thank you so much for taking your time to help others. I’m dying to put that cart into my kitchen.

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