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Big ideas for small kitchens

Melanie Whitehouse / 02 November 2016

Find out how to maximise storage space in a small kitchen with these clever tips.

Small kitchen
Glass-doored cupboards can help make a kitchen feel larger

The key to a small kitchen is clever storage. Kitchen companies have cottoned on to this and offer a plethora of solutions, whether you’re starting from scratch or refurbishing an existing kitchen. Ikea is great for sleek ideas for small spaces – pop down to a branch and wander around their on-site kitchens to see what would work for you.

Cabinets, cupboards and shelving


Open shelving looks great in a small kitchen and doesn’t enclose it like wall cabinets do. However, grease and dust will accumulate on surfaces, so you must be willing to wash items and shelves once a week to keep them looking their best.

Don’t like the sound of all that washing up? Opt instead for plain glass or frosted glass doors in cabinets for all the benefits of open shelving without the hassle.

Integrate appliances. Yes, it costs a bit more but it’ll mean you have an uninterrupted run of units hiding the fridge freezer, the washing machine and the dishwasher.

Add interest to a small kitchen by using one kind of unit at low level and a contrasting finish above. Roll-top metal ‘doors’ are a contemporary alternative.

Read our tips for doing up a kitchen on a budget

Cupboard organisers

Swing-out carousels fit into awkward spaces under the sink or in corner units.

Add shelf stackers to cupboards, so all available space is used but items are easily accessible (see A Place For Everything, from around £7.50).

Use maximum height

The area above the wall cabinets is rarely used. Can you extend upwards and stow items there that are rarely used but still kitchen essentials? Remember, this too is often a sticky zone in a small kitchen, so plan accordingly.

If you’re starting from scratch, full-length, pull-out larder units are a great storage solution for all your edibles.

Modern kitchens often come with the option to have storage space behind the plinth - ideal for storing things like dustpan and brushes.

Small kitchen storage ideas

Clearing clutter

Clearing the clutter and leaving work surfaces free is vital if a small kitchen is to look neat and hygienic.

Lots of knives? Put up a magnetic knife strip under wall units.

A metal rail or shelf, mounted on the wall, will hold anything from spice jars to kitchen utensils and mugs.

Buy a chopping board set in its own neat box that is colour-coded for different uses to help avoid cross-contamination.

Group things you need all the time in one place: wooden spoons in a pretty jug by the hob; washing up liquid, sponges and mops in a container by the sink.

A trolley on castors that doubles up as a chopping board, an extra work surface or a place for cookery books and can be stowed away when not in use is useful in a small kitchen.

Read our tips for decluttering

Finishes and surfaces

If there’s room, add an L-shaped work surface with units on one side and a breakfast bar on the other.

Keep finishes organic and curved, and avoid sharp corners on which you can catch yourself.

White or sparkly work surfaces will reflect the light, as will anything in stainless steel. Keep it clean with a wipe of baby oil.

Recessed or integral handles will stop you catching your clothes on knobs.


Keep it simple – a bright white kitchen will always look clean and Scandinavian and make the most of the available light.

Add wall-mounted plate racks and display pretty crockery. Keep it themed: all vintage or all white, say.

Wipe-clean blinds or pale shutters will keep a small kitchen looking neat.

Continue the theme with light-coloured flooring. Remember, vinyl or laminate are softer than tiles or stone when it comes to breakages - and easier on the legs.

Lighting under wall units and in cupboards will help you see what you’re doing. Factor in overhead lights, too: a trio of hanging pendants is a popular option.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.