Small Kitchen? 5 Design ideas to improve and add space!

Do you live in an apartment with a small kitchen? We all wish we could live in a traditional Maltese townhouse with a garden and a luxurious kitchen with a lot of space to hone your culinary skills, but for most young adults and expats living in Malta, the reality is a couple of sizes smaller.

Apply these ideas to your kitchen space to make it feel bigger, lighter, and less cluttered.

Mirror mirror on the wall, is my kitchen the largest of them all?

Mirror panel over countertop

If you’re a new homeowner or renting an apartment as an expat, then chances are your answer is no. Small kitchens tend to have little access to natural light, so maximising what you get is crucial.  Tiles for a back-splash are a well-established tradition in the kitchen, but if your kitchen has little access to natural light, using a mirror is a perfect way to open the space up and bounce light around. You can use antique mirror tiles if you don’t want to stray too far away from tradition. Alternatively,  you can place a mirror above the stove, hang it on a shelf, or line it against the wall. Keep two things in mind: maximise light, and position it strategically to reflect the best features of your space.

Take two steps away from the dark

Mint coloured cabinets

Light and bright walls are more reflective, which help make a small kitchen feel open, airy, and maximizes the input of natural light. Paint your wall trim and mouldings in a lighter colour than the rest to add dimension. Remember that dark colours, on the other hand, tend to absorb light, making a room look smaller. We recommend soft tones of off-white, blue, and green. Painting the walls is a quick and cheap way of transforming a room. In need of inspiration? Read through our article on the top colours in 2018.

Open the door(s)

Open shelves against the wall replacing closed cabinets

While it is a brilliant way to make a small kitchen feel more spacious, this idea has designers split into two camps. Open shelves instead of closed cabinets tend to be a tough idea to swallow for many because it means you need to be tidier. But, we believe open shelving has a lot of positives: open shelves let more light flow in, welcome guests to help themselves (instead of asking you where a cup or utensil is every time), increase your storage options, and are a far more affordable option than closed cabinets. 

Look down

Tile patterns for the floor

We advised substituting the patterned tiles on the wall with a mirror to increase the light in your kitchen and add to the illusion of space, but having a small kitchen doesn’t mean you should do away with patterns or high-impact design elements – not entirely. An often overlooked area of a kitchen is the floor, but it is actually a perfect candidate for bold patterns. It also gives the illusion of a greater expanse to your kitchen space. Also, remember that long lines and large tiles are better than small grids for small kitchens.

Look up

Three pendants above countertop

Opt for decorative fixtures over the island and prep station, but don’t forget about under-cabinet lighting. Make sure that the lights do not hang low as this will make your kitchen look smaller and more restricted – your goal here is to create the illusion of height, so draw the eye up with an interesting fixture that hugs the ceiling. Also, while bright white paint on a wall opens up a room, going for a dark ceiling can create depth. 
Want to learn more about how to approach lighting in your kitchen? Check out our six-step guide.

Does this work for you?

If you live in a rental apartment, your landlord might not be keen on you changing the tiles or repainting the walls. If your pleas go unheard, read our article on changes that you can make to your small kitchen space which are affordable, renter-friendly and, temporary – which means you can stay assured that you will get your security deposit back at the end of your lease.