Make a Small Kitchen Look Bigger: 5 Design Ideas

We’ve been covering a lot of ground these last few weeks in designing and remodeling your unique kitchen. It’s hard, right? So much ridiculous thought and detail has to go into it that it can make you feel a bit batty if you’re asked to make one more frickin’ decision between brass or copper door hardware! I love hearing the feedback that these posts are helping y’all and that you’re feeling more inspired and prepared as you plan how to make your own kitchen work for you! So far we’ve talked about Maximizing Function & Space in Your Kitchen to help you figure out what your kitchen needs and a free workbook you can download to guide you in designing your space. Then we got into the nitty-gritty of common questions such as when to order cabinets to finding contractors in how to Survive and Plan a Kitchen Remodel.

Today we kick off the last in in this series (for now, hehe) of kitchen function and design with how to use small tweaks in design to make any space, small or large, look bigger and have more  “oomph”.

Tall, floor to ceiling cabinets

When an item reaches from floor to ceiling against a wall, it automatically draws your eyes upwards and gives the room a grander and larger appeal. When cabinets are hung several feet below your ceiling, it makes the room feel more compacted. It’s kind of the same trick you incorporate when hanging curtains; go as close to the ceiling as possible to create height.

kitchen floor to ceiling cabinets storage pantry
via Sally Ross Designs

It’s also great in the sense that when you use all the space between floor and ceiling, you’re maximizing every square inch and giving yourself added storage.

Open Upper Shelving

In a very small space, cabinets can look extra “boxy” and even appear as clutter. When you have open shelving, it’s as minimalist as it can get and creates a sense of more space and room to breathe. It also opens up sight lines so that you can see more of the room.

green kitchen cabinets open shelving
via Workbook by Westbrook

Natural Light

Any way that you can bring more natural light into a room, the better. Whether that means getting lighter window treatments that allow more light through such as bamboo blinds or a simple valence, or using “natural light” light bulbs, increasing the lighting will cause the room to feel more open.

victorian kitchen
via Doris Leslie Blau

Glass doors in upper cabinets

Continuing with natural lighting, incorporating glass into your cabinets helps reflect the light and and again makes the room feel more spacious.

tall ceiling height glass upper cabinets victorian kitchen
via Glamour

Go small scale with your large appliances

Small microwave

This will not hold true for everyone, but our over-the-stove vented microwave is probably 5x bigger than it needs to be for our needs. It takes up so much room and looks clunky. We merely use our microwave for heating up a cup of tea or a plate of leftovers and could get away with a small microwave.

small kitchen microwave appliance garage
via BHG

Small dishwasher

Did you know that dishwashers come in more than the standard 30″ width size? There’s also 18″. Again, this will come down to your family’s needs, but for us an 18″ would be a huge improvement as we’ve never even used our dishwasher. This smaller size takes up less cabinet storage space and gives the appearance of fitting better in a very small kitchen versus a 30″ that would make it look like it’s crammed in.

small kitchen dishwasher 18
via BHG

Although more expensive, there’s also drawer dishwashers.

drawer dishwasher small kitchen
via The Kitchn

Even cooler still is this in-sink dishwasher option.

in sink dishwasher
via Designer Pages

Slim fridge (30″ or less width)

A little about slim fridges: they are common in Europe but are only just now starting to find a niche market here in the U.S.. Not only are they smaller in width (though sometimes they’re designed to be slightly taller instead), but they often are smartly executed to make use of all storage space available, just like you’re trying to do with your kitchen. You’ll also find that when you have a smaller fridge, less things get lost or expired. I’ve read from people’s reviews that they find themselves becoming much more intentional with what they buy at the grocery store, and I love that! Being intentional is something I’m really trying to learn to do more of with our home and what we buy or bring home, and this would be just another way to help me get there!

slim kitchen fridge design
source unknown

p.s. – they also look super stylish to me!

p.s.s. – should I do a post on slim fridges I’ve been looking into?

Pin it for Later!

small kitchen look big

Learn more about kitchen design with Maximizing Function & Space in Your Kitchen (and a free workbook) and how to Survive and Plan a Kitchen Remodel.

Shared On: totallyterrifictuesday, amazememonday,

You may also like


  1. Great tips! I love glass doors on upper cabinets and the slimmer and taller fridge…that would be nice!
    Thanks so much for sharing at AMAZE ME MONDAY!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *