How to maximise space in small kitchens
Cooking and dining when space is tight can be restrictive, but by employing creative solutions you can make the most of even the tiniest kitchen
1) Inject character
Antiques and collectables lend individuality to kitchens of any size, and they needn't take up much space. 'Buy genuine antiques,' advises Mikki Towler of The Antique Kitchen. 'The colour and patina they gain over the years can never be replicated and will give your kitchen instant warmth.'
'Peckham Rye Classic Kitchen' by Devol. Prices start from £25,000
2) Devise distinct zones
Designing multifunctional rooms so they look elegant and feel uncluttered is an art worth mastering when the kitchen is your only dining area. You can use a rug, colour or lighting to indicate different activity zones, but more than anything your choice of furniture will define the style.
'Wessex' table from £4,195; 'Windsor' stick-back side chair with plain leg, £395; skittle-leg stick-back settle, £1,295; aged slatted wooden pendant lamp, £350, all from I & JL Brown
3) Light it up
'In a kitchen where you want to transition from a bright daytime environment to a more atmospheric space at night, create a flexible scheme that can be changed at the touch of a button,' suggests design director Sally Storey of John Cullen Lighting. A versatile lighting set-up is a simple and effective way to create ambience in any smaller kitchen. To allow maximum control over the levels of light, put your wall lights, down-lights, under-cupboard lights and feature lights on separate circuits so they can all be operated individually.
From left: 'Thea' pendant light in copper, £105; larger 'Coolie Hat' pendant in copper, £72; larger 'Dexter' pendant in copper, £95, all Pooky
4) Tailor it to fit
'When space is limited, bespoke cabinets are often the best solution as they are handmade with storage features designed to maximise the available space,' says Nick Bell, sales and design director at Mark Wilkinson Furniture. Tall wall cabinets that extend to the ceiling provide out-of-the-way storage for equipment that is used less frequently. An island is also an elegant solution for using space and providing a multi-functional work area.
Bespoke cabinets shown here with marble worktops and splashback are from the 'New England collection from Mark Wilkinson Furniture. Kitchens start at £45,000
5) Create a sense of space
Clever decor can make a small kitchen seem more spacious, as well as giving it designer style. A decorating palette limited to one or two colours embracing walls, floors and furniture is the simplest way to to create an elegant look and airy atmosphere. If you want something less restrained, try a colour blocking strategy using contrasting hues within well defined areas such as a feature wall, island unit or larder cabinet.
'New Classic' and 'English' collections by Martin Moore. Prices start from £35,000. Cabinets are painted in 'Pointing', and walls in 'Clunch', both by Farrow & Ball.
6) Focus on the detail
Worktops, handles, taps and sinks might be the hardest working elements in a kitchen but they're also the all-important finishing touches that complete the look. Choose worktops to suit the job in hand, and select cabinet handles for their ease of use and visual impact.
Cupboards in background painted in 'Rusty Nail' and in foreground in 'Coal Scuttle' devised by Adam Bray. Worktops in oak, fossil stone and Carrara marble. Kitchens by Plain English average £60,000
7) Provide a space for everything
Cookware, food, serving dishes - the number and diversity of things that are kept in the kichen demand that storage offers sufficent capacity and is distributed so that the items you need for cooking and preparation are always close at hand. Easier said than done in a small area! Most kitchens combine concealed and open storage and while closed cupboards leave the kitchen looking tidy when it's not in use, items like open shelves and ceiling-mounted saucepan racks allow for more storage to be fitted into unused space.
TM Italia 'Concept T45' matt white cabinets with bespoke internal shelving systems by Hub Kitchens. Prices start from £40,000
8) Add a place to eat
Far from being an extravagant use of space, an eating area is a versatile addition to a small kitchen. Designed for a quick breakfast or lunch, it is the ideal place to browse cook books, order shopping online or for children to draw and do homework. A bar occupies little space and can be built along a wall, in front of a window or as part of an island where it can be created simply by extending the worktop.
'Vermont' kitchen by Fired Earth. Cabinets painted in 'Dover Cliffs' and 'Smoke Blue'; island unit is in 'Andaman Sea' with a Caesarstone worktop. Prices start at around £10,000
Cooking, dining and entertaining when space is tight can be restrictive, but by employing some creative solutions you can make the most of even the tiniest of kitchens. From savvy spacing, to ingenious colour and inventive lighting, the tips in the above gallery will help you to enjoy time spent in your kitchen, whatever its shape or size.