How to Make a Small Kitchen Feel Big

Just because the square footage of your kitchen is smaller than average doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice an inch of style and function. With an Ottawa kitchen renovation, can maximize the efficiency of a kitchen of any size.

Don’t be discouraged if your kitchen boasts a more modest footprint than average. Small kitchens can be transformed into delightful and functional spaces that belie their actual size. With a few clever design tricks, you can create the illusion of a more expansive room while maximizing every precious square inch for ultimate functionality. Here’s a treasure trove of tips to unlock the hidden potential within your compact culinary haven:

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Tall Cabinets

If the ceiling height accommodates, think about installing extra tall cabinets. The exaggerated length makes your small kitchen appear larger than it truly is, with the added bonus of providing much needed storage space. Use the highest parts of the cabinets to store rarely used kitchen items, like your turkey roasting pan or ice cream maker. Space is at a premium in a small kitchen, so don’t let that extra height go to waste.

Maximize Storage: Every Inch Counts

  • Embrace the Vertical Reach: Don’t let valuable storage space go to waste! Install cabinets that stretch all the way to the ceiling. This creates a dramatic vertical line that draws the eye upwards, making the room feel taller. Plus, those high cabinets become the perfect home for rarely used appliances or seasonal items, freeing up precious counter space below.
  • Outsmart the Ordinary Cabinet: Cabinets can be so much more than just plain wooden boxes. Consider built-in features like lazy Susan turntables and pull-out shelves. These ingenious solutions maximize the usability of every inch within the cabinet, making it easier to reach those tucked-away items in the back. The best part? Many of these features can be retrofitted into your existing cabinets, offering a cost-effective way to boost functionality without a complete kitchen overhaul.


Mirrors have long been used by interior designers to enlarge small spaces because of the way they bounce light around the room. Cabinet doors with mirrored glass work wonders in a small kitchen. If mirrors don’t quite suit your taste, shiny stainless steel or glossy glass tiles can fulfill a similar function.

Here are a couple of ways to incorporate mirrors into your small kitchen design:

  • Mirrored Cabinet Doors: This is a classic and highly effective technique. By replacing traditional cabinet doors with mirrored panels, you create a stunning and functional focal point. The mirrored surface reflects light throughout the space, making the room feel larger and brighter. This is a great option for kitchens with upper cabinets, as it expands the feeling of ceiling height and openness.

  • Beyond the Cabinets: Don’t limit yourself to just the cabinets! While mirrored cabinet doors are a great choice, there are other creative ways to introduce reflective surfaces. Consider a strategically placed mirrored backsplash behind your sink or cooktop. This will not only add a touch of glamour but also reflect light across the countertop, making the workspace feel more open. You could even explore the possibility of a mirrored accent wall, though this is a bolder design statement and might work best in kitchens with a bit more breathing room.

Light Colours

Dark colours and tones have an unfortunate side effect of making spaces feel smaller, like the walls are closing in. Light colours have the opposite effect and make walls feel farther than they truly are. For this reason, opt for light wood cabinets, white or light countertops, and light neutral tones in the backsplash or paint.

Light Colors: Beyond Paint and Cabinets

The impact of light colors extends beyond just walls and cabinets. Here are some additional ways to incorporate light hues into your small kitchen:

  • Appliance Harmony: If your appliances are due for an upgrade, consider opting for lighter-colored models. Stainless steel is always a classic choice, but you might also find refrigerators and dishwashers available in white or other light tones. This creates a cohesive look that reinforces the feeling of openness.
  • Light and Breezy Fabrics: When choosing curtains or blinds, opt for light and airy fabrics in soft colors. Sheer curtains allow natural light to filter through, further enhancing the feeling of brightness. Avoid heavy drapes or dark fabrics, as these can visually shrink the space.

Storage Space

Cabinets these days can be a lot more functional than two slabs of wood. Custom cabinetry with features like lazy Susans and pull-out shelves will save space and maximize efficiency. Even better, these features can be built into your existing cabinets without the expense of overhauling the whole kitchen.

Beyond Cabinets: Creative Storage Solutions

  • Rolling Carts: A rolling cart can be a lifesaver in a small kitchen. It provides extra storage space for appliances, cookbooks, or pantry items, and the wheels allow you to easily move it around as needed.

  • Under-Sink Gems: Don’t let the space under your sink go to waste! Install pull-out drawers or under-sink organizers to maximize storage for cleaning supplies, dish towels, or even a small trash can.

Smaller Appliances

If your old appliances are due for an update, think about going with the slightly smaller alternatives. You can get attractive energy efficient appliances that make more sense for the space without sacrificing any style at all. If you don’t use your kitchen much, do you really need a double-wide refrigerator or restaurant-calibre range?

Right-Size Your Appliances:

  • Rethink the Refrigerator: Do you really need a double-door behemoth if you’re a single person or a couple? Consider a compact refrigerator with a smaller footprint. Many offer innovative features like adjustable shelves and efficient storage solutions, allowing you to maximize every inch of space.

  • Range Right-Sizing: A professional-grade range might be a dream for some, but for a small kitchen, it might be more of an obstruction. Explore compact ranges that offer all the functionality you need – multiple burners, an oven, and even a broiler – in a smaller package.

  • Microwave Magic: Microwaves are a staple in many kitchens, but a bulky countertop model can eat up valuable space. Consider a space-saving option like a built-in microwave or a microwave with a smaller footprint.

Hanging Pots & Pans

If there is available wall space (or ceiling space, if you have an island), consider going with a hanging pot/pan rack. This frees up valuable cupboard space in a small kitchen. Of course, you’ll only want to display your pots and pans if they’re in good condition, so maybe it’s time for an upgrade.

Small kitchens require creative storage solutions, and hanging pot and pan racks are a fantastic way to free up valuable cabinet space while adding a touch of personality to your kitchen.

Benefits of Hanging Racks:

  • Space Savers: Hanging your pots and pans frees up precious cabinet space for other essentials like dishes, small appliances, or pantry items. This is particularly beneficial in a small kitchen where every inch counts.

  • Easy Access: Having your pots and pans readily accessible on a rack saves you time and frustration when you’re in the midst of cooking. No more rummaging through cluttered cabinets searching for the right pan!

  • Stylish Statement: A well-organized pot and pan rack can be a beautiful focal point in your kitchen. Choose a rack that complements your décor and display only your most attractive and well-maintained cookware. This creates a visually appealing and personalized touch.

Choosing the Right Rack:

  • Location, Location, Location: Consider the available space in your kitchen. Wall-mounted racks are a popular choice, but if you have an island, a ceiling-mounted rack can be a great option.

  • Matching Your Style: Pot and pan racks come in a variety of styles – modern, rustic, industrial – so choose one that complements your overall kitchen décor. Consider the material as well – chrome, stainless steel, or wrought iron.

  • Size Matters: Make sure the rack is large enough to accommodate all the pots and pans you plan to display. You don’t want it to look overcrowded, so be realistic about how much cookware you’ll be hanging.

Before You Hang:

  • Upgrade Time? This is a great opportunity to assess your cookware. If some of your pots and pans are dented, scratched, or have worn-out handles, consider replacing them before putting them on display. A well-curated selection of attractive cookware will enhance the visual appeal of your hanging rack.

Maintaining Your Rack:

  • Keep it Clean: Just like any other surface in your kitchen, your pot and pan rack needs to be cleaned regularly. Wipe it down with a damp cloth to remove dust and grease.

  • Space it Out: Don’t overcrowd your rack. Leave some space between each pot and pan to allow for easy access and prevent them from scratching each other.

Remember: Don’t be afraid to express your personal style! A small kitchen doesn’t have to be bland or boring. With a little creativity and these design tips, you can create a kitchen that’s both functional and reflects your unique taste.

Happy Cooking!

Contact today for more information about how an Ottawa kitchen renovation can make your small kitchen work.  To get in touch you can fill out an online form or give us a call at (613) 727-9427.

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