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  • Writer's pictureJoyful Designs Studio

5 Designer Tricks To Make A Small Kitchen Feel Big

When we started our transformation of this tiny, (formerly) L-shaped kitchen, it was closed off from the living area, had low ceilings, little to no countertops, dated cabinetry that was of no real utility, and darkness was its friend. LOL. For the One Room Challenge (Haven't heard of it? You can start (HERE) at the Blog and follow our journey from week to week) we decided to start from scratch and add more function, usable storage, more countertop space and to open up the layout so light could rule the darkness.

We also we raised the ceilings where we could. Our efforts resulted in a more open and welcoming kitchen that looks a whole lot bigger and more attractive than the one we inherited from the prior owner.

Now to be clear, it’s still a small kitchen, but it is 10 times more functional and less cave-like as you can see from the pictures. Here’s how we did it in 5 steps.

1. First, we used full-size appliances. That had a huge impact on our appliance budget. While I initially contemplated using a an 18-inch dishwasher and a 24 inch stove and refrigerator, I quickly realized that that would have doubled the my budget, but fail to provide any functional additional cabinet space since we were not using upper cabinets anyway.

2. Which leads to my second trick of the trade and that is to remove any upper cabinets. The kitchen is already small. I decided that upper cabinetry, given the quirky compromise we reached on the ceiling, would have looked awkward while drawing attention to the fact that the kitchen is small. Instead, I opted for large format porcelain tile as backsplash to give the allusion of more space and openness while standing sink-side. The blank wall leaves room for artwork or a mirror to further reflect the natural light now flooding the kitchen.

3. Arguably, the best thing we did to make the space feel bigger was to steal space from the dining room and to literally make that space part of the kitchen. We added tons of extra storage by adding cabinetry behind the slatted walls and putting a piano hinge on the bench for loads of storage underneath there as well. In fact, all of #TheBabe’s hand tools and drills were stored there after we finished the space.

There are large units of extra storage for dishes, pots, pans, tools, books, etc. behind these slats, which was key to the design of the space as a whole because I knew immediately that we would reconfigure the kitchen for the renovation. So by removing the two upper cabinets that were in the old kitchen and adding all of the storage to the dining area, we actually gained more storage and functionality than we had before we renovated the kitchen.

4. If you really want your kitchen to feel like an island of respite from the day‘s troubles, then a wine and drinks fridge is just the appliance you didn’t know you needed or could fit in such a small space to make it live big. So, our fourth trick is to add the extras. Live it up where you can.

Yes, a whole wine and beverage fridge. We were gifted the Preserv™️ French Door Dual Zone Wine and Beverage Cooler from Zephyr. This a a large capacity cooler that easily maintains two distinct temperatures for your wine to be chilled to the perfect temperature and your sodas, cold teas and water to be as colder still - all in one appliance. As you can see, it is huge and holds enough beverages and wine for a month of sip and sees depending on how parched you may get . We are making our wine list and plan to have a fully stocked beverage fridge for our next trip.

The fun doesn't stop with your wine or chilled beverage of choice, does it? Of course not. Zephyr also gifted us the range hood you see below. And this hood takes setting the mood to a whole other level.

The Roma Groove Wall Range Hood does more than exhaust fumes and smoke. It has Bluetooth capability and stereo speakers so that you can stream your favorite playlists while sipping your beverage of choice and making your favorite meal. Between the beverage/wine cooler and the Roma Groove music streaming range hood, the mood is set for your small kitchen big living adventures. I party light but can easily see how both of these appliances can easily please the party circuit set.

5. Our final tip for making your small kitchen feel and live like a big kitchen is to ditch the full size sink. Yes, while I recommend the full size appliances, a large sink isn’t really necessary in such a small kitchen to be honest. Particularly when there is a full size dishwasher and a faucet with a spray nozzle for filling pots. For us, we wanted to optimize our countertop space as much as possible. So we ditched the full size sink and opted for a bar prep sink in a sleek black quartz.

We worked with Elkay USA who gifted us their Bar Prep 15 inch Dual Mount Quartz Classic Sink, as well as the Avado Single Hole Faucet in matte black and chrome. They paired beautifully and we could not be happier with the functionality and aesthetic beauty of these pieces. A full sink for the 30 inch cabinet we used would have co-opted all of the little counter space we were afforded in this kitchen. By using a Bar Prep sized sink we were able retain plenty of counter space and also have a beautiful sink and faucet.

We love our new kitchen and feel totally comfortable entertaining there. The kitchen/dining nook area can seat 5 easily for breakfast and dinner and we are not limited to small dish meals because we have full size appliances and plenty of functional storage. It’s truly a home away from home kind of kitchen. It may be small but it lives big.

Thanks again to our partners at Elkay USA and Zephyr.

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