As much as you love your home, there are probably areas you wish you could change. For anyone who has a tiny kitchen, you don’t have to wait for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
to get the spacious area you need. You just need to know these tricks of perception that will fool the eyes into seeing a bigger kitchen – without knocking down any walls.
Paint and accessorize using lighter colors.
The first step to opening up your kitchen is picking a light color scheme: think blues, greens, white, neutrals, or pastels. Whereas dark colors consume light and make a space seem smaller, lighter colors will make the room look big and bright because they reflect natural light and create the illusion of spaciousness. That goes for the floor and ceilings as well – keep the colors and paint bright. You can paint the molding an even lighter color than your walls so the room opens up to the full length of the ceiling. The goal is to encourage the eye to take in the room as a whole, so don’t mix in too many colors. Keep your paint scheme monochromatic for a clean, unobstructed impression of your kitchen.
Let in some natural light.
Light is one of your best allies in making your kitchen look larger, because if helps to extend the eye. Utilize the windows in your kitchen, as they will be the best place to let in that natural light that your bright walls like to reflect. In addition, the view of your yard will become a part of the room, opening the boundaries of your confined space. To keep these assets unobstructed, either forego kitchen curtains or make them see-through. No heavy drapery, and no clutter on the window sill (see below) or anything that will make the space seem separate – keep it simple. If the view out of your window isn’t ideal, you’ll still want to let in the light but you can place potted or hanging plants there. If there is no great window space in your kitchen, consider adding a skylight.
Get rid of everything you don't need.
One way to immediately make your kitchen appear larger is to declutter the room. Of course you love your toaster and your coffeepot, but do they need to be on the counters all of the time? Take what appliance you can and utilize your cabinet space – even a breadbox can be used to store your appliances when not in use. If your kitchen does not have an abundance of storing space, feel free to get creative – a long table skirt will hide a lot. Get rid of any knick-knacks and pick one painting to be the focus piece of the room, not five. Your floor is included in this rule, as it shouldn’t be crowded with any extra rugs or mats. Any furniture you may employ in the kitchen should have its own space, and not just out into the room’s natural walkways.
Use reflective materials to create the illusion of space.
When deciding what style of appliances or décor you want in your kitchen, consider this: like bright colors, mirrors will also reflect the light of a room, and like a window they can add depth to your space. If a mirror fits in your kitchen, add one. If not, you can still make use of mirrored tiles on the walls. Reflective stainless steel is a good choice for your various appliances, and a glass tabletop will also reflect the light; and the fact that it is see-through will draw the eye to the floor and wall beyond it, making it seem to take up no room at all.
Opt for less ornate cabinetry.
Although they will take up a lot of precious room in your kitchen, you cabinets may be your best friends. Your cabinets present the most freedom, as there are numerous ways to utilize them in creating space. You might consider the smooth European-style cabinetry, since anything too ornate will look cluttered. You could decide to try mirrored cabinets (probably best if you don’t already have a mirror in your kitchen). Or you might choose to have glass cabinets. The benefit would be that your guests will be able to see into your cabinets, which creates depth and therefore makes the room look bigger. The downside is that your guests will be able to see into your cabinets, which means you have to keep them organized. But you can do it!
You can paint your cabinets a light color to match your walls and erase and perceptive boundaries, BUT you can also choose to have dark cabinets. Although the rule is to avoid dark colors that will absorb the light, in this case dark cabinets can make the wall appear further back than it really is, which enlarges the room. Finally, when you decide which style cabinets are for you, you can install under cabinet lights, which are useful functionally and of course we love anything that brings more light into your kitchen.
Decorate with smaller, versatile furniture.
Your kitchen furniture must be chosen just as strategically as the color of your walls. Big chunky furniture with a wide base is just going to eat up precious space. Think smart: buy an extendable kitchen table that can be shortened when not in use. Place your furniture on an angle to create a longer line for the eye to follow (plus, that creates some storage space BEHIND the item). Buy your furniture short to make your ceiling seem high, smaller appliances that won’t take up as much room, and if you buy an island, make it petite. For seats, consider streamlined stools and bar stools – anything with long, open legs so one can see beyond them.
Use unconventional patterns to trick the eye.
Stripes are also a great way to fool the eyes. You can appear to widen a room with horizontal floor strips (either a striped rug will do, or alternating medium and light-toned floorboards). Or you can use vertical lines on the wall to draw the eye up and give the impression of a great height to your ceiling.
If you want to spice up your space, mosaic tiles are a great way to draw the eye across your space. Even just one mosaic accent wall – under your cabinets maybe? – will do wonders.
If you need shelf space but don’t want to clutter your walls, try installing a recessed shelves or even cabinets between wall studs. Recessed shelves won’t disrupt the flow of your kitchen, but if you want another option you can always try “floating” shelves. Either way, you can paint them to blend into your color scheme, and you’ll stay organized and decluttered.
If possible, you can open up your kitchen space by removing part of a wall that divides it from an adjoining room. This will make the rooms a natural extension of the other, creating one large shared space.