Eight steps to a spacious kitchen

Make the most of your kitchen with Paula Woods' stylish space-saving ideas


Bespoke kitchen companies, such as Smallbone of Devizes, can create designs that make the most of any space


Island living

Even compact kitchens are expected to function as the focal room of the home, where the family can gather together and eat together. Happily, most kitchens can squeeze in a breakfast bar to cater for informal dining.

Robert Burnett of Holloways of Ludlow has a practical suggestion: ‘Have a raised breakfast bar to hide the mess that may lie behind it, and double as a splashback for a sink or hob.’

If you’re contemplating putting an island in your kitchen, Burnett advises ‘a minimum room width of 3.3m to allow for adequate space and movement’ while dining around the island demands ‘a large enough overhang and room to move stools in and out’.

Surrounding a free-standing English oak table, this fitted hand-painted wooden bench, part of a Podesta kitchen, provides seating without limiting space

If you want a more traditional approach, oval or circular tables tend to take up less room, although rectangular tables can be pushed up against the wall when not in use.


Consider cabinetry

When it comes to cabinetry it pays to keep things simple; clean lines and fuss-free finishes will increase the sense of space.

Resist the desire to cram cabinets into every inch – leaving a corner empty will make a room look larger.

If you want the space-saving attributes of a fitted kitchen, Graeme Smith of Second Nature suggests includng glazed wall units. ‘It will prevent the room feeling hemmed in,’ he says.

Where circulation space is an issue, fit reduced-depth base units and retractable or bifold doors. Curved cabinetry visually enhances smaller kitchens, plus makes it easier to move around at busy times.



Opt for a tailored approach

‘In the bespoke kitchen, there is no such thing as dead space,’ says Richard Moore of Martin Moore & Company. ‘Everything is made to order with customised options.’

Not only does investing in a custom-made kitchen give you full control over design, size, style and finish, it allows you to use every inch of space, including awkward areas and structural anomalies often associated with older homes.

Bear in mind that even the greatest designer cannot achieve what you’re looking for without an accurate brief, so it’s important to assess your needs before you commission.


Hang it all

The curse of many a kitchen is wasted wall space.

‘You can use wall space to really stamp your personality on the kitchen: one-off pieces such as vintage kitchen accessories work beautifully,’ says Richard Moore.

If you think creatively, you could save time as well as space by hanging everyday essentials on easy-reach wall hooks and rails. Arrange at eye level and keep backgrounds simple for added impact.

Rows of sparkling glasses can be hung on dedicated stemware racks, and magnetic strips and stores used to organise knives and spices.

Reinstating the traditional pot rack above an island will conjure up storage space from thin air.



Smart storage

‘Cleverly designed storage plays an essential role in the kitchen. The more consideration you give it at the design stage, the better your kitchen will perform,’ says Rob Whitaker of Fired Earth.

A full-height larder cupboard can prove a great-space saver, thanks to a storage capacity equivalent to around 12 wall units. It’s also worth noting that drawers can offer more effective storage than cupboards, with compartments for everything from china and saucepans to cutlery and gadgets.

Slimline solutions, such as plinth or sink drawers and pull-out boards, can also be employed to exploit hidden storage potential. ‘They don’t take up much space and double up as a preparation area,’ says Whitaker.


Be open to shelving

Smart shelves take up relatively little room in comparison to the amount of storage they afford. They can even work on problematic sloping walls, thanks to solutions such as Ikea’s ‘Ekby Riset’ brackets that lock at varying angles to fit any pitch.

Consider characterful containers to stow assorted items – use decorative jars, baskets and wirework that can sit alongside your china and glassware. Plate racks can also be fitted to store dinnerware, as well as those oversized servers and platters that never seem to have a home.

Look out for ranges that offer tailored shelf solutions, such as the ‘Canto’ kitchen by Schüller kitchen furniture (shelves from £40 per m), at InHouse Inspired Room Design

Get clever with colour

When it comes to smaller rooms, many of us instinctively turn to white. However, in period homes modern whites can prove rather harsh, so look to a warmer off-white palette or pale neutral schemes.

For a barely-there aesthetic, match painted cabinetry to walls or use a variety of tonal shades to inject depth. Subtle greens, blues and greys can work well, with darker tones best reserved for accents or focal points. Such colours tend to work well at base level, with contrasting pale units above.


Look to layout

The shape and size of your kitchen will directly influence your design, so start by evaluating current arrangements. Long, narrow spaces inevitably benefit from a continuous run of units on one or both sides, to create a streamlined look.

‘Be realistic about space constraints and ditch the double galley if there is less than a metre between rows,’ says Second Nature’s Graeme Smith.


If you have only a single row of units, Smith suggests ‘zoning’, which involves setting up specific areas for dedicated activities, and recommends ‘separating busy cooking and sink zones with a good length of workspace’.