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Beautiful, Efficient Small Kitchens

Here’s how to make the most of space you have

Written and produced by Lucy Fitzgerald
  • Small Kitchens

    Often the hub of the family home, the kitchen is a place to gather, cook, eat, laugh, do homework or pay bills, and share in special moments together. When space is limited, it  takes smart planning to create a multifunctional and aesthetically appealing kitchen. Here’s how to make the most of space you have.

    In the kitchen pictured above, sophisticated earth tones and furniture-style molding warm the slender, galley-style space.

    Small Kitchen Remodel Costs

  • Werner Straube

    Sleek Kitchen for an Urban Apartment

    This apartment kitchen’s luxurious textures and high-shine accents make it live large. Designed by Mick De Giulio for Doug Atherley’s apartment in the Ritz-Carlton Showcase in Chicago, it’s bisected into cooking and dining areas by a handsome center island. The room’s amenities are all dressed in glossy finishes and state-of-the-art materials, giving the space a metropolitan vibe. Tall windows allow for sweeping views of the city and provide a beautiful focal point.

    See the rest of this sky-high apartment in the Ritz-Carlton Showcase.

    Design: Mick De Giulio

  • Werner Straube

    Open and Airy Kitchen

    This corner kitchen takes advantage of its snug parameters by opening up to the adjoining breakfast area, which is lit by tall glass windows and doors. A spacious center island grounds the space and provides additional counter surface for food preparation and storage. The room’s palette of white and powder blue keep the mood light and fresh.

    See the rest of this home here.

    Design: Skip Sroka

  • Kevin Lein

    Country Chic Kitchen

    A recent remodel inspired the new palette of blue and airy whites, giving this cozy kitchen a fresh, country-chic look. New painted cabinets with a mix of open shelves and glass-front doors were added. A vintage-looking apron sink with bridge-style faucet blends easily with a modern stainless-steel stove, vent hood, and dishwasher. The blue-and-white color scheme is warmed by coral accents.

    Design: Liz Mitchell

  • Black-and-White Kitchen with Island

    Clean white molding against crisp black granite countertops keep this kitchen feeling fresh. The black-and-white scheme culminates on the checkerboard tile flooring to lend interest underfoot, while contemporary light fixtures from Vaughan Designs lend a mod flair.

    See the rest of this stylish home.

    Design: Megan Perry Yorgancioglu

  • Ron Blunt

    Kitchen with Walkway and Breakfast Room

    A recent addition to this home bumped out the kitchen several feet on one side and allowed for a large center island. The walkway through the kitchen leads to a breakfast room with more seating. Wine is stored in cubbies below the island and across from the bar area.

    See more of this kitchen on the following slide.

    Design: Mary Douglas Drysdale

  • Ron Blunt

    Kitchen with Walkway and Breakfast Room

    Counter seating at the kitchen’s island provides an area to chat with the cook. The woven rug ties the room’s colors together.

    See the rest of this Capitol Hill remodel here.

    Design: Mary Douglas Drysdale

  • Emily Minton Redfield

    Kitchen Island as Hangout Space

    The island in this active family’s kitchen serves as a dining table, homework area, and casual hangout spot for their three boys. “The boys eat a lot of their meals at the bar,” says homeowner Dana Porter, but a table with modern metal Windsor-style chairs near the island is also available for everyday family dining. Built-in features like shelving and a recessed range save space.

    See the rest of this Texas home here.

    Design: Joseph Minton

  • Gordon Beall

    Glam Galley Kitchen

    Beautiful neutrals and Calacatta marble countertops give this galley kitchen an undeniably glamorous edge. “The driving force was a kitchen that was classic, timeless, and practical,” designer Gerald Pomeroy explains. Cabinets run to the ceiling for maximum storage. Elegant crown moldings stand out against a taupe-toned ceiling. “When you go dark on the ceiling, the moldings pop,” he says.

    See the rest of this beautiful brownstone remodel here.

    Design: Gerald Pomeroy

  • Paul Dyer

    Galley Kitchen with Striped Window Seat

    A narrow galley kitchen ends with a window seat below tall windows. The bench is built into the wall to save space, and provides extra kitchen storage below. The cushions feature black-and-white stripes from Calvin Fabrics.

    See more of this home here.

    Design: Lindsay Brier

  • Werner Straube

    Light-Filled Apartment Kitchen

    Kitchen designer Mick De Giulio created this kitchen for the Ritz-Carlton Showcase Apartments in Chicago. The rug contributes to the furniture look of the room in the apartment whose other rooms were designed by Frank Ponterio. “In these spaces, we didn’t want to do flat, austere kinds of kitchens,” Mick says. “Most of the finishes are lacquer, but there are also some wood finishes, and everything has sculpting or other details on the doors.” Large glass doors leading to a patio keep light flowing through the narrow room, while white paint and stainless-steel appliances keep the space bright.

    See the rest of Frank Ponterio’s apartment here.

    Design: Mick De Giulio

  • Werner Straube

    Black-and-White Kitchen

    This cozy kitchen redesign included moving a laundry room to another end of the apartment to allow for a charming breakfast area. A graphic black-and-white color scheme and checkerboard floors visually expands the space. The island’s length provides plenty of counter space without sacrificing any area of the narrow walkway between the kitchen and breakfast area.

    See the breakfast area on the following slide.

    Design: Eva Quateman

  • Werner Straube

    Breakfast Area

    The breakfast area carries the same graphic black-and-white scheme, this time with chair and bench fabric from Fabricut. A built-in banquette provides ample seating on three sides of the table while also saving valuable space. Wall sconces are a smart lighting feature.

    See the rest of this smart remodel here.

    Design: Eva Quateman

  • Bruce Buck

    Kitchen with Retro Appeal

    The modest kitchen was remodeled to expand the space and give it a modern update with retro appeal. The limited space was maximized with a built-in refrigerator, an appliance garage behind a tambour door, and a niche for the toaster. A wine refrigerator is under the counter.

    See more on the following slide.

    Design: Eileen Kollias

  • Bruce Buck

    Modest Kitchen with Aga Stove

    A traditional English-made Aga stove replaced the previous cooktop. The wall behind is set with a bold pattern of white and green tiles with chamfered edges for texture and color.

    See the rest of this cozy English kitchen here.

    Design: Eileen Kollias

  • Michael Venera

    Chef’s Kitchen

    A simple kitchen with plenty of storage is appropriate for the home of Los Angeles chefs and culinary personalities Suzanne Goin and David Lentz. A stone backsplash in warm gray tones and pale sage cabinets visually counteract the visual coolness of the stainless steel, says architect William Hefner.

  • Sleek Loft Kitchen

    Designer Eric Cohler lifted the spirits of this small kitchen in a renovated commercial building by giving it a sleek, James Bond look with a curved island. The Japanese lantern-style light fixture is an unexpected touch that keeps things from feeling too somber.

    Design: Eric Cohler

  • Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

    Corner Kitchen with Updated Features

    Brand-new amenities and a cushy cork floor are sharp updates in this Atlanta kitchen. “The cork is soft and never shows anything,” says homeowner and designer Bill Murphy. “It has a grayish cast that is nice with the stainless finishes.” Mirrored backsplashes and a stainless-steel panel behind the range hood reflect the light and make the room feel open. Tall cabinetry and the range hood add verticality to the space.

    See the rest of this updated Atlanta home here.

    Design: Bill Murphy

  • Erik Johnson

    Yellow-and-White Galley Kitchen

    This kitchen’s white-and-yellow palette retains the ample light that floods through the adjoining breakfast room’s soaring windows. Recessed-panel Shaker-style cabinetry provide continuity along the kitchen’s narrow length, while a limestone floor underfoot extends into the breakfast area.

    See the rest of this cheerful remodel here.

    Design: Loi Thai

  • Gordon Beall

    White and Bright Kitchen

    Elegant Carrara marble counters and a limestone tile floor give this kitchen a sophisticated yet hardworking feel. Its airy white palette helps to make it appear larger.

    See the rest of this row home here.

    Design: Paul Corrie


  • Gordon Beall

    Bright Space-Saving and Sustainable Kitchen

    This kitchen shares a 42x21-foot space with the living room, which is separated by a ten-foot-tall mesh panel that is both subtle and effective. "It's a translucent divider that provides a visual separation without blocking views, light, or conversation," says designer Barry Dixon.

    See more of this kitchen on the following slide.

    Design: Barry Dixon

  • Gordon Beall

    Great Cabinetry

    The efficient galley-style kitchen features handsome SieMatic cabinets in two finishes and manufactured with sustainable materials. One wall of cabinets houses wall ovens and conceals the energy-efficient refrigerator and freezer. Barry allotted plenty of work space for multiple cooks, with long stretches of elegant Eco by Cosentino countertops.

    See more of this elegant and sustainable home here.

    Design: Barry Dixon

  • Francesco Lagnese

    Creative Solutions in a Cramped Kitchen

    Awkward architecture in this New York apartment didn’t stop designers Benjamin Bradley and David Thiergartner from creating a practical and pretty kitchen. They disguised an unattractive support wall by cutting into it and adding shelves that house Lynn’s glassware, a solution that gives the impression of a design decision that was intentional rather than mandated by structural elements. A sepia-toned wall covering with a faded batik motif by Rose Tarlow and rubber flooring that alleviates fatigue from standing on a hard surface help temper the sheen of stainless steel appliances.

    See more of this kitchen on the following slide.

    Design: Benjamin Bradley and David Thiergartner

  • Francesco Lagnese

    Pretty Pass-Through

    A pass-through connects the kitchen’s separate prep and eating areas, which are separated by a support wall. Calcutta Gold marble countertops in gray and white matching the backsplash sit on SieMatic contemporary cabinetry with a honey-tone finish.

    See the rest of this sky-high apartment here.

    Design: Benjamin Bradley and David Thiergartner

  • Werner Straube

    Casual Kitchen in a Summer Home

    This summer home’s kitchen opens up to the living space to promote a casual and inviting atmosphere for conversation. The kitchen’s work area has views of the porch and outdoors beyond, so even the chefs can feel included in the summer festivities while working on dinner. "This is an Italian family cooking, so the kitchen was central to that experience," Footer says. A massive 10x4-foot island is topped with a solid slab of two-inch-thick Calcutta Gold marble, providing visual weight.

    See the rest of this Cape Cod home.

    Design: Maureen Footer

  • Tria Giovan

    Sophisticated Kitchen-Dining Room Combination

    The kitchen of this home doubles as a dining room to save space and keep the clean-up simple. "Everyone loves an eat-in kitchen, especially in a second home," says designer Larry Laslo. "If [homeowner Ken Wyse] needs additional space for entertaining, he can easily set additional tables in the entry hall that we purposely kept bare."

    See the rest of this summer home here.

    Design: Larry Laslo

  • Philip Harvey

    Old World-Style Kitchen

    This kitchen’s galley layout and high ceilings provided designer Tish Key with the perfect opportunity to use dramatic elements to make the space seem larger. An oversized marble mosaic Waterworks clock with metal hands hangs below the kitchen range’s large brick hood for an eye-catching focal point. “The brick, the tile, and the different honed and polished marbles all make you want to touch them,” says Key of the room’s textures. The patterned Malayer Persian rug provided unique colors that complemented the charcoal-papered walls that smoothly wrapped the whole space together.

    See the rest of the San Francisco Decorator Showhouse here.

    Design: Tish Key

  • Werner Straube

    Youthful Eat-In Kitchen

    White paint, marble countertops, and a sparkling blue backsplash give this kitchen a youthful glow. A large center island doubles as a dining table, while the simple molding on the cabinetry and windows keep the space feeling fresh.

    Design: Julie Massucco Kleiner

  • Tria Giovan

    Showhouse Kitchen-Dining Room Dressed in White

    Designer Beverly Balk created this combination kitchen and formal dining room for the Mansions and Millionaires Showhouse in Mill Neck, New York. Dramatic fittings are used to create visual interest against the white background. Red accents provide warmth.

    Design: Beverly Balk