30 Small Kitchen Ideas That Maximize Both Style and Efficiency

Sky-high cabinets and mirrored backsplashes are your friends here.

rose cumming zebrine wallpaper

When your prep space is no larger than a closet, even one person can feel like too many cooks in the kitchen. Make the most of your counter space and cabinetry using the tricks within these petite rooms as a guide. And if you're dreaming big, check out even more designer kitchens.

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jon de la cruz 2017 kitchen of the year sink
Thick Ledge

While our 2017 Kitchen of the Year didn't skimp on space, San Francisco designer Jon de la Cruz employed plenty of efficient tricks to max out the room. The chunky 1¼-inch-thick counter extends up the wall to the base of the window, creating a spot for a soap dispenser (or wine glass). 

Jonny Valiant
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jon de la cruz 2017 kitchen of the year appliance garage
Appliance Garage

To keep the countertops clear, de la Cruz tucked the toaster and coffeemaker away in a sleek appliance garage, while the stand mixer pops up from its own designated cabinet thanks to a spring-loaded shelf. 

Jonny Valiant
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sarah bartholomew kitchen
Wicker Furniture

A custom farm table in a Georgetown rowhouse does double-duty as a dinner spot and work surface, while paneled appliances seamlessly blend in with the cabinetry in 's White Dove. The real illusion comes in the form of woven chairs from . Designer Sarah Bartholomew went with wicker to tie the room to the adjacent backyard, making the room feel airy instead of cramped.

Ngoc Minh Ngo
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justina blakeney jungalow kitchen counter
Breakfast Counter

Justina Blakeney connected her Jungalow's kitchen and dining area with a cute pass-through. Not only does it open up both rooms, but the  countertop adds a cheery spot for a quick meal.

David Tsay
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nick olsen colorful kitchen
Glossy Lacquer

Once you decide what color to go with, don't forget about the finish. A New York kitchen in a wine red from received a high-gloss coating that "helped the small space feel bigger," Nick Olsen says.

Francesco Lagnese
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Rolling Ladder

Adding extra storage up top is a great idea, if you can reach, that is. Katie Ridder installed a rolling ladder (just like the library!) in this fantastic kitchen to access ceiling-height cabinets.

Eric Piasecki
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faux malachite galley kitchen
Moveable Bar

The galley kitchen in Juan Carretero's New York apartment has two doorways, one of which opens directly into the living room. To gain counter space — and improve the view — a movable bar on casters spans the gap.

Thomas Loof
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amanda nisbet kitchen
Tiny Cabinets

Designer Amanda Nisbet injected warmth into a modern Manhattan apartment with a Macassar wood island and Tom Dixon Mirror Ball pendants. To squeeze in extra storage, little cubbies fill in the space above a sunny window.

Tara Donne
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Singular Shelf

Although his clients requested a bank of open shelvingdesigner Grant K. Gibson added a single ledge to their galley kitchen. "One shelf is simple and dynamic," he says. "You have to be able to hide clutter, and this way, you can rotate your collections!" 

Thomas Kuoh
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Subway Tile

To fake a sunny farmhouse kitchen in a Manhattan apartment, Celerie Kemble painted the cabinets Benjamin Moore's White Dove. The white-tiled walls, along with brass hardware and a milk-glass chandelier, create the illusion of added sunlight.

Christopher Sturman
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<p>Designer Katie Ridder installed open shelves and Urban Archaeology's Industrial pot rack in the existing kitchen to make everyday items easily accessible. The elegant barstools from Cherner Chair Company are a 1958 design by Norman Cherner and are cushioned in MK Collection's Summer Strié.</p>
Pot Rack

Bulky pans can take up valuable real estate, so Katie Ridder installed Urban Archaeology's Industrial pot rack in a Greenwich Village duplex. The elegant barstools from Cherner Chair Company are a 1958 design by Norman Cherner and are cushioned in MK Collection's Summer Strié.

Eric Piasecki
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rose cumming zebrine wallpaper
White Cabinetry

Ashley Whittaker gutted a New York apartment's kitchen, replacing the dark cabinetry and terra-cotta tiles with white cupboards and Carrara marble. "The room now feels twice as big," she says. The slim table provides extra counter space and doubles as a breakfast nook. Rather than recessed lighting, she chose a birdcage lantern from the HomePort Collections. "It's whimsical," she explains. "When you're working with a small apartment, why not make the kitchen feel like another decorated room?"

Thomas Loof
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Copper Shelving

Working with just 72 square feet, Austin designer Kim Lewis opted for in-plain-sight storage. The copper-pipe shelving has hooks for hanging mugs, keeping the counter clutter-free. Without a dishwasher, a farmhouse sink can accommodate dirty pots and pans. 

Courtesy of Kohler
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hidden kitchen
Folding Doors

In Bill Brockschmidt's 640-square-foot apartment, the kitchen is located in the entry hall and camouflaged from the living area. "Creating folding doors allowed us to transform the entry into a mini-gallery when we entertain," Brockschmidt says. "We can also close off the dining room from the kitchen with pocket doors, so that once guests have arrived, we can open up the kitchen for cooking."

Simon Watson
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black kitchen cabinets
Black Cabinetry

In a Manhattan apartment, the existing kitchen cabinets were painted Benjamin Moore Aura in Black. "I wanted it to look less boring and more like a smart butler's pantry," designer Lilly Bunn says. The Roman shade is in Holland & Sherry's Belfour linen.

Maura McEvoy
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Sculptural Island

A small-scale sculptural island sets an adventurous tone for this 400-square-foot Brooklyn apartment designed by Fitzhugh Karol and Lyndsay Caleo of the The Brooklyn Home Company. Brancusi would have liked this island, made from fallen oak and a hand-carved cherry log painted white.

Tara Striano
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mirrored cabinets
Mirrored Cabinets

Antiqued mirrored glass on cabinet doors enlarges the small kitchen in a Brooklyn townhouse decorated by Jonathan Berger. Granite countertops and backsplash in Imperial White are from E. Stone.

Francesco Lagnese
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Matching Trim

In a 295-square-foot Brooklyn studio apartment designed by Nick Olsen, the kitchen corner, done in white and green to blend in, gets a helping of charm with grosgrain ribbon trim and a painted plaid backsplash.

Bjorn Wallander
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Stovetop Shelf

To expand a tiny kitchen in his San Francisco apartment, designer Scot Meacham Wood added extra shelves. The cabinetry is in Ralph Lauren Paint's Interior Semigloss in Scuba Black. The curtains are a Christopher Hyland plaid.

Thayer Allyson Gowdy
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torino damask wallpaper
Metallic Sheen

Her New York City kitchen may be on the small side, but designer Sheila Bridges didn't let that cramp her style. An elegant silvery-blue wallpaper adds some unexpected excitement to a tiny space.

Annie Schlechter
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Lacquered Ceiling

In the kitchen of a Manhattan apartment by Philip Gorrivan, iridescent mosaic tiles and a ceiling lacquered in Benjamin Moore's Oceanic Teal pick up a color from the wallpaper in the hallway. The Thonet barstools are by York Street Studio. 

Brian Doben
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Glass Doors

In Mark Egerstrom's 1,200-square-foot West Hollywood home, the wood floors of the kitchen extend out to an adjacent deck through glass shower doors, creating the illusion of a much bigger space. The walnut cabinetry was designed by Egerstrom: "It's my take on old farmhouse kitchens, updated to the 21st century."

Lisa Romerein
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green high gloss kitchen
Saturated Color

The cabinets in this New York apartment by Miles Redd are lacquered in Bamboo Leaf by Fine Paints of Europe, as was the roller shade by Manhattan Shade & Glass. Redd says, "We pumped up the color just a scootch and lacquered it to give it life." Even the Sub-Zero refrigerator is painted green.

Thomas Loof
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Tall Table

Chris Barrett found the tall 1860s Czech table, with beautifully turned legs at J.F. Chen. It works perfectly in a space that was "too small for a dining table and too big to have nothing," Barrett says, serving as both breakfast island and buffet for dining on the terrace outside the French doors.

Victoria Pearson
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Mirrored Backsplash

In this Chicago kitchen measuring only 105 square feet, high style means high contrast. Designer Summer Thornton sets a sophisticated tone with black and white. Add vintage treasures, some mirrors and — suddenly — a room sparkles.

Miki Duisterhof
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Electric Cooktop

This tiny New York City kitchen has a place for everything, says designer Stephanie Stokes. "After designing so many kitchens for other people, I knew exactly what I needed and what I wanted," she says. A mirrored backsplash, an electric cooktop that doubles as countertop and simple cabinetry help give the illusion of grandeur.

Eric Piasecki
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Open Shelving

The kitchen in a Napa Valley ranch has open shelves instead of upper cabinets for an airy feel. The shelves and countertops are galvanized metal, and the cabinetry is made from old fencing. Vintage truck springs, used as stools, were found at Artefact Design & Salvage. Designer and owner Ken Fulk spotted the vintage industrial pendant lights at the Paris flea market.

Victoria Pearson
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Black and White Tile

"The kitchen is a good size, but small by Dallas standards," Craig Schumacher says of the Texas kitchen he shares with partner Philip Kirk. They avoided an extensive remodel by painting cabinets Benjamin Moore Brilliant White and installing inexpensive black and white tile on counters and backsplashes. An extensive ironstone collection overflows from shelves to walls. 

Nathan Schroder
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Backless Stools

A trio of backless stools can slip under the counter to save space in this tight Alabama kitchen by Susan Ferrier. Their cream color blends in with the island, unifying the room. "You don't want the eye to stutter in a small space," she says.

Thomas Loof
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red-stained kitchen cabinets
Stacked Cabinets

Home Depot designer Emily O'Keefe added cabinetry with period charm to this small kitchen. "Since space was tight, I went up, stacking the cabinets," she says. "The ceilings are 11 feet high, but not every cabinet touches the ceiling — that way they look more like furniture."

Ellen McDermott
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