How to make the most of a compact kitchen

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By Philip Saich

The accepted wisdom is that everyone dreams of having a large open-plan kitchen diner, but many properties in the UK have limited space and therefore present their own unique challenges. So if you’re not blessed with a large property that can house a generous kitchen or accommodate an extension to create additional capacity, how do you maximise the feeling of space in a compact kitchen? As with any Refresh Renovations project, our top tips to create the perfect bijou kitchen combines planning and design with practicality and discipline to ensure that every aspect works in harmony to deliver a solution that matches both your tastes and your lifestyle.

Identify the best layout

Above everything, the layout that you settle on will have the biggest impact on the feeling of space. As well as considering all the components – such as furniture, appliances and storage – it’s important to think about the flow of the space as you will be using the kitchen for a variety of purposes. Avoid focusing only on one aspect, for example, food preparation, at the expense of others, especially if you’ll regularly be using the space for dining and socialising. Time spent in carefully planning and designing the layout will be well rewarded in the end.

Let the light flood in

A compact kitchen can easily be dark, so embrace all ways to allow in as much natural light as possible, whether it’s replacing an existing window with a larger alternative or adding a roof light. If neither of these options is feasible, another approach might be to install an internal window in order to ‘borrow’ light from another room. A mirror will help to bounce natural light around the space, and don’t shy away from going floor to ceiling if there’s scope to do so.

Choose colour carefully

In reality, most kitchen designers will recommend white for small areas, and a compact kitchen is no different, although neutral shades are also a possibility. Large expanses of dark colour have a tendency to shrink spaces, but they should not be dismissed altogether. It’s advisable to choose one hue and stick to it throughout, although accenting with a darker colour either on base cupboards, worktops or accessories can enhance the feeling of depth and spaciousness. Remember, however, that darker colours do absorb light, so consider lighter shades for your splashbacks, tiling and flooring.

Get creative with your workspaces

Even a compact kitchen can offer functional space – it’s just a case of creating it. A slim island can usually be accommodated, but if not then a butcher’s block will give you an area for preparation. If space is very limited, it’s imperative to be disciplined in keeping workspaces clutter-free and to consider gadgets such as a boiling-water tap which may enable you to dispense with a kettle.

Slim down your appliances

Appliances invariably require significant space allocation in any kitchen but smaller slimline models are available, as are combination solutions such as a washer-dryer and a combi microwave oven with a grill that will enable you to do everything but using less space. Integrating appliances can also benefit not only the overall design but also the overall spatial perception.

Switch on to wall lighting

To complement the neutral décor, strategically placed wall lights can be less intrusive and can project light into upper areas and darker corners, all of which helps to create a feeling of spaciousness. Hanging lights are increasingly popular but they can divide up the flow of a small kitchen and probably work best in larger spaces.

Put it away

Storage is a key consideration when designing a compact kitchen as visible clutter combined with exposed pots, pans and utensils can all shrink the space. From recessed shelving and bespoke cupboards to elegant hanging rails, there are a multitude of options for storage even in the smallest of spaces. In a compact kitchen, it’s important to look beyond the conventional, and areas such as above the doors and at the end of the base units can all be put to good use.

Size your furniture accordingly

It’s tempting to create a welcoming environment for dining, but in a compact kitchen it may be necessary to compromise. Rather than cramming the space, consider a smaller dining table and fewer chairs to create a feeling of openness. Positioning the table against a wall can save space, as can installing a tailormade bench for seating. And if your floor space really is limited why not invest in foldable furniture that can be stowed away when not in use? In terms of design, curves can help to soften a smaller space by introducing a degree of streamlining, so don’t discount a rounded end for your worktops and a round dining table.

Introduce a touch of luxury

Even compact kitchens can include a defining feature, whether it’s a marble splashback, a piece of art or a signature clock, so think carefully about adding something to generate a striking focal point. In compact kitchens, less is definitely more, so it can be beneficial to opt for fewer features but at premium quality to create an enduring wow factor.

Newton Fraser of Nottingham builders, Refresh Renovations, believes that maximising the space in a compact kitchen can be one of the most rewarding home renovation projects. ‘At Refresh we love a challenge,’ says Newton, ‘and reworking a compact kitchen space can be really rewarding. For us it’s all about combining thorough planning and clever design with the practicality of day-to-day life. There’s little point in creating a stunningly beautiful compact kitchen that doesn’t deliver what a busy family needs, but it’s equally unwise to focus purely on functionality at the expense of design flair. We believe that with our ability to marry planning and design with an outstanding build and installation service we’re ideally placed to deliver exceptional contemporary kitchens, whatever their size.’

Get in touch

Refresh Renovations are Nottingham builders offering design and build services for compact kitchens. Check out Our Locations to find your nearest Refresh Renovations Branch. To discuss your project, please get in touch today using the enquiry form listed alongside, or if you would like to submit a more comprehensive enquiry, you can do so on the Get In Touch page.

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