Hummer homes are a thing of the past, but shrinking square footage need not spell the death of the dream kitchen. In fact, intuitively designed compact kitchens are actually a pleasure to work in. And when decorated correctly, you can create an illusion of space so the hub of the home feels as airy as it is efficient.
Let There Be Light
‘Let there be light’ is the first commandment of any small space, particularly kitchens. Inadequate lighting constricts the room resulting in a dark, dingy and depressing workplace - not exactly what you envision for the heartbeat of the home. So, be it natural or artificial, bring on the light!
If your small space is graced with a window, maximize the natural light by minimizing window treatments and keeping the sill clean. Something as simple as unobstructed sunbeams can open up a room in a way one would think only a full on renovation can.
If, however, your kitchen does not have significant sources of natural light, make sure your other lighting sources are ample and on point. A relatively small fixture may technically light up the room, but spreading the wealth with under the counter and concentrated task lighting in key areas will make the kitchen seem more spacious.
To get further bang from your lighting buck, harness the power of reflection. With a mirrored or iridescent glass tile backsplash, stainless steel and high gloss appliances, you will effectively double the lighting impact.
Go Large & Diagonal
Small tiles create too many visual borders on the floor, which can make a small room seem even smaller. When choosing the flooring for your wee-sized kitchen, opt for something bigger than the traditional 12-inch square. Larger tiles mean less grout giving the illusion of a greater floor area and a bigger kitchen.
To trick the eye and expand the room even further, lay those big tiles on end and create corner-to-corner diagonal rows. A diamond pattern, as opposed to a checkerboard, draws the eye to the wide angles of the tile borders, and away from the narrowness of the room. The space will not only look larger, but will be more visually interesting as well.
Change the Focus
Less is really more when it comes to cramped quarters, so if you are short on space, embrace minimalism. Keep the décor clean and simple with the exception of one prominent area that will serve as the room’s natural focal point.
A focal point by definition is the place the eyes rest first. By accentuating the one spot where the room’s lines converge, you will draw all the attention to that area and away from the room’s size, making it seem larger than it really is.
For a fun focal point, consider implementing one of these ideas into your décor plans:
- An elaborate, interesting or modern range hood
- One vintage appliance
- A mosaic with a premium tile above the stovetop or sink area
- An apron/farmhouse sink
- Pendant lighting
Play With Color
When dealing with a small area, color plays an important role. Dark décor might be daring and dramatic, but because lighter colors reflect light, you are best off sticking with a cohesive blend of whites, pastels and neutrals to keep the room open and airy. That said, you can stretch a room, making it appear taller and wider, with a bit of smart contrasting.
To add height and depth, play with the paint and keep the molding and ceiling a lighter shade of the same color as the wall. This creates an optical illusion, tricking the eyes into thinking the walls are further off then they actually are - viola (seemingly) more space!
Similarly, pairing stark white cabinets with a slighter darker white or pastel colored makes the room amplify the area, and keeps the walls from closing in on you.
Bust the Clutter
If your kitchen is not as roomy as you would like, resist the impulse to try and cram everything in. There is nothing that kills a space faster than clutter. So, for an overall larger-feeling kitchen, keep the surface areas as clear as possible.
First and foremost, never allow your counters to become a catch-all. Knick-knacks, small appliances, paper and dirty dishes have a way of making a small room feel smaller. Consider building a hidden alcove to house the smaller appliances you use daily. As for the rest of the stuff, clean up regularly. The same goes for the refrigerator; keep the door clear and move the family art gallery to another room.
Additionally, although open shelving is touted as a tool for enlarging a room, too often, the shelves become cluttered and have the opposite effect. If your kitchen does boast open shelves, intentionally leave spaces and gaps in the content for a bright and spacious impression.