Small Modern Kitchen Design Ideas
Learn from experts how to boost style and spaciousness with modern decor and a layout that includes sleek finishes, a monochromatic color palette and concealed storage.
Small kitchen modern design ideas straddle the line between restraint and simplicity while still maintaining a welcoming air for your favorite room of the house.
The fuss-free modern design aesthetic makes an ideal match for any small kitchen by offering spare and efficient design details — from neutral palettes and streamlined furnishings to smart storage — that work together to create the illusion of spaciousness. Combine these design details together in your small kitchen for the ultimate modern update.
Structure, hard, and sleek are among the many adjectives that come to mind when thinking about modern design details. Most commonly, these traits come to life in a structured cabinetry system; hard-edged countertops, opposed to rounded edges; and sleek stainless steel fixtures and hardware. In the case of modern design countertops, metal and slate are popular choices for their industrial vibe, durability and style. Counter these materials with complementary textures such as a glass used in the backsplash or leather on seating.
Modern design's minimalism goes hand-in-hand with the pared-down approach of a small kitchen: limit to the bare necessities, conceal features, and integrate multi-tasking elements. First, eliminate the extras such as pendant lights for fuss-free recessed lighting, and swap space-hogging appliances for models that can be tucked in drawers. Secondly, make a place for everything and put everything in its place. To this end, consider a pullout pantry and full-height cabinets. Another idea for a modern kitchen is exposed cabinetry. Open shelving establishes an airy feel to the room while exposing an edited, tidy stack of dishes and glasses.
Further the goal of creating the idea of roominess in your kitchen by adding a modern, neutral color palette. The uniformity of monochromatic colors — light bright whites or sleek grey hues — creates the impression of spaciousness in a tight space. The graphic color pairing of black and white is often used in modern kitchen designs, along with the burst of an accent color, like primary colors in red, blue or green. Infuse this shot of color onto a painted accent wall or a gleaming colored glass backsplash. Instead of spinning the color wheel, geometric pattern is a subtle way to add interest into your modern kitchen. Consider installing a tile backsplash that features a sleek horizontal, herringbone or chevron pattern.
Remember, small kitchen designs require some thoughtful planning to the furnishings too. Think clean-lined seating, like backless stools than can easily tuck under kitchen islands. For an eat-in kitchen, try a dining table and chairs that leave a small footprint, and minimize visual clutter with furniture like Lucite chairs and a mod tulip table.
Small apartments and homes offer plenty of charm, but they tend to be lacking when it comes to kitchen space. Luckily, there are tons of small kitchen ideas that maximize storage and efficiency. By thinking creatively about how to make the most of your tiny kitchen floor plan and utilizing whatever countertop and wall real estate you have, you can make even the tiniest of kitchens a space you enjoy cooking—and hanging out—in. Ahead, we’ve gathered 51 small kitchen design tips to help you maximize your space, be it a petite galley kitchen or just a single wall in an open-plan apartment. Whether you’re renovating and starting from scratch or just looking to refresh your existing space, read on to get your small kitchen in tip-top shape.
1. Add a prep area
You may not have space to expand or add a full island, so think about bringing in a slim rolling kitchen cart or bar cart to hold your mise en place or serve as extra counter space. Even a narrow console can work as a spot to set tools and ingredients on while you cook.
2. Remove upper cabinets
“Open shelves are extremely functional and make it so much easier to access dishes and glasses,” says New York–based interior designer Jenny Wolf, adding that you should think about your kitchen architecturally, as it doesn’t always make sense to have upper cabinets—“especially if the ceilings are 10 feet high.”
3. Get custom hardware
“I try to use hardware as statement pieces. It’s the jewelry you put on to complete the look,” says architectural designer Karen Williams, who serves as the creative director for St. Charles New York.
4. Or opt for invisible hardware
“When you lean up against the counter, you don’t want to feel a handle poking into your side. You also want a clean surface where you really see the materiality of the surface. We’ve worked a lot with Dada and have been generally seeing less hardware and more integrated pulls or touch-to-open cabinetry. It makes working much more efficient,” said designer Stephanie Goto.
5. Get super-organized inside your cabinets
For any small room (a kitchen or otherwise), getting organized is essential. When space comes at a premium, you can’t afford to waste any of it—even the hidden space inside your cabinets. Stock up on risers, lid organizers for your various pots and pans, spice-sorting systems, and anything else that will streamline and maximize your kitchen storage.
6. Streamline dish duty
If your small kitchen doesn’t have room for a dishwasher, making sure that the kitchen sink is both an efficient and tidy space is key. Consider adding in a compact dish rack, like this one from Simple Human, that drains directly into the sink and will never rust.
7. Splurge on fun glassware
There might not be room for much decor—so let your dishes do the talking. Unlike hefty serving pieces, colorful drinkware adds visual interest without bulk. Display arty stemware on an open shelf, or let a pitcher pull double duty as a countertop vase.
8. Add a kitchen island
Even if your kitchen is on the narrow side, you can still bring in a slim kitchen island for prep space and conversation. Consider a rolling island, which can be pushed out of the way once dinner is ready. “Don’t think if you have a tiny kitchen that you can’t have an island. You can; you just need to put it on wheels so that when you’re working and you need an island, it’s there, and when the guests arrive, you can push it over to the side or move it into the dining room or living room and let it be the bar,” says interior designer Ellen Cheever. Alternatively, choose an island with slim legs that you could pull a few stools up to and let it double as bar or breakfast seating.
9. Use light colors to visually expand your small kitchen
“The lighter the kitchen, the larger it can feel,” says Wolf. “Sometimes, if there is a good view out a window, I like to focus on bringing the outdoors in and using nature to dictate the palette.” Keeping an especially light palette on countertops, backsplashes, walls, and millwork also helps a small kitchen feel more open. If you’re not in the market for a full renovation, consider the cooking tools that you always have out: Cutting boards, pots and pans, and linens can all lift a space if you opt for pieces in light shades.
Double down on white
The lightest palette of all, of course, is all white. “White paint will help spread and reflect light around, which also makes a space seem bigger,” says interior decorator and blogger Emily Henderson. If you have exposed shelving, create a wall of white by displaying white dish sets.
Maximize floor space with a dining nook
The shape of the room can have just as big of an impact as the square footage. “It’s important to pay attention to the structure of your kitchen,” says Henderson. “If you have a small dining nook, then go for a round table that opens up floor space and seats more people than a square one would.”
Pair utilitarian appliances with refined cabinetry
“People who frequently cook want to maintain something visually appealing. For one client—a New York City lawyer who has eaten at virtually every major restaurant in downtown Manhattan—it wasn’t about being a show kitchen, but a foodie’s kitchen. It’s very utilitarian—he wanted a heavy-duty Wolf stove—yet we took care in the selection of the finishes. The white cabinets are glass, and the gray cabinets are lacquer—they really play with materiality. This way, it’s not too precious or too utilitarian,” said designer Goto. For those not in the market for a whole new range, consider a striking espresso machine, like this Brutalism-inspired one by Anza, instead.
Just can’t get rid of that timeworn cookbook or prized flea market find? “Installing pot racks, knife mounts, and open shelving above your stove will free up tons of space,” says Henderson.
Build a storage bench
If you’re building out a dining nook, add seating with storage compartments to hide away bulk purchases, unwieldy serving pieces, or kitchen linens.
Get rid of all clutter
“Countertops are prime real estate for clutter, which instantly makes a place feel smaller,” Henderson says. “Make a point of getting rid of all your unused plastic containers and mismatched dinnerware every couple of months.” Tidy up your produce storage while you’re at it: A handy covered fruit bowl will separate onions and garlic from odor-absorbing fruit and keep their papery skins from cluttering the countertop. And if you’ve got the installation skills, a hanging fruit basket for those extra bits and bobs will add visual interest, too.
Add a pegboard
Pegboards give you space where you didn’t think you had any—which is a huge boon in a small kitchen. You’ll find plenty of prefabricated pegboards online, like this handmade option from Etsy. Use it to hang everything from measuring cups to colanders. Or go the Julia Child route and put it to work showing off (and organizing) burnished copper cookware.
Opt for small appliances
“Don’t think small means cheap apartment, entry-level, dormitory stuff anymore. High-quality small appliances are now available. The other thing is combination appliances; you can have a microwave-convection-browning appliance,” says Cheever. We wholeheartedly agree. If you’re toying with putting in a new oven but rarely cook for a crowd, consider a convection oven instead. It is tiny enough to fit on a countertop and works as both an oven and toaster. And if you’ve been curious about the crisping capabilities of the trendy air fryer, you’ll love the circulation of the convection oven.
Use baskets for storage
Add baskets! If you’re running out of space in your cabinets and pantry, baskets and bins can make all the difference. Find baskets that fit the vibe of your kitchen and they can double as decor and additional storage. Consider a basket for your clean kitchen linens that can be tucked out of the way on the lower shelf of a kitchen island, for example.
Add extra seating to your small kitchen
Put that extra counter area to use! Pulling up a few barstools will help take advantage of what can be an extra dining spot for casual dinners or for having your morning coffee.
Add a good kitchen rug and other warm accents
Incorporating warm accents like a good rug can make a small kitchen feel more like a cohesive space, especially if you have a one-wall kitchen that isn’t its own separate room. Natural colors, like those in this jute rug above, will be especially forgiving for the odd coffee spill.
Use concealed storage
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Being short on square footage should never inhibit the design potential of your kitchen. You’d be surprised at what you can do to make a small kitchen look and feel grand. We know it can be hard to avoid a cluttered mess in a small space, especially for those living in city apartments, so whether you’re working with hundreds of square feet or just a couple dozen, getting your cooking space into tip-top shape—both aesthetically and functionally—is just a few creative ideas away from becoming a reality.
Below, see how these gorgeous homes use their small kitchen layouts to their advantage, with bold cabinetry, double-duty accent pieces, sleek lighting solutions, and more. So read on for 58 striking kitchen designs that are small on space—but big on style.
1Open Shelving and Wallpapered Ceilings
Opt for open shelves instead of cabinets, like designer Charlie Ferrer did here in his Manhattan studio apartment. He added Donald Judd–style green shelves and papered the ceiling in a vintage Italian wallcovering he’d bought in Provence, which he says reminds him of “carpaccio.”
2Bring the Outdoors In
In interior designer Amaro Sánchez de Moya’s Seville, Spain, pied-à-terre, he brings the outdoors into his kitchen with a vintage Spanish garden table and chairs. They blend seamlessly into the overall motif of this fun, country-styled kitchen.
In the Milan apartment of Emiliano Salci, the creative director of Dimorestudio, the kitchen is painted in two colors—black and yellow. The walls bring a distinct flair to the space, and even somehow coordinate with the unexpected green counter.
4Minimalist and Modern
If you like minimalism taken to the extreme, look no further than this modernist Stockholm apartment belonging to a family of four. The kitchen features stainless-steel countertops and lower cabinets, which allow for ample storage down below—rather than at eye level—for a sleek and clean look.
Small yet striking, this Jean-Louis Deniot–designed Miami kitchen featurescustom stainless-steel cabinetry that has been laser-printed with an abstract pattern, reflecting the natural light while creating a sense of movement.
This snug bachelor pad kitchen features big design moments, with a sleek Carrara marble countertop, brass barstools by CB2, and pendants by Tom Dixon, all of which make a statement while taking up minimal visual real estate.
8Small Statement Backsplash
While a full backsplash may overwhelm a petite kitchen space, actress Amanda Seyfried’s weekend retreat proves that a little goes a long way. The tiles by Heath Ceramics draw the eye in, while leaving plenty of white space to keep the area bright.
Making the most of your countertops is key to a functional kitchen, and the cook space in model Joan Smalls’s Miami penthouse offers a place to cook, wash, and dine all in one.
The mirrored tiles of John McClain’s kitchen backsplash reflect light while adding depth, making up for the small square footage and minimal natural light.
In this futuristic Greenwich Village apartment, a sleek gray kitchen features several large door panels, which are fully integrated into the walls and millwork to conceal the small space when needed.
13Pots Hung High
Event designer Bronson van Wyck's Manhattan kitchen features an Urban Archaeology pot rack hanging over a salvaged pine island, putting the typically underutilized space to good use.
Just because your kitchen space is small, doesn't mean you can't have all of the amenities. This compact design by Jennifer Jones features storage, cooking surfaces, and a statement backsplash.
In a minimalist—and monochrome—West Village apartment, the petite kitchen feels light and bright with its skylights and streamlined design.
Pastel blue cabinetry, white marble countertops, and bright recessed lighting keeps the small kitchen in Bill Wackermann's apartment feeling spacious and clean.
An open-concept kitchen in this Canadian lake house features moody blue cabinetry that extends up to the ceiling, giving the illusion of a larger space while drawing the eye to the statement shades.
18Black and White Kitchen
In a PR maven's glamorous New York City apartment, Sam Still artwork hangs on a wall covered in a Madeline Weinrib wallpaper. The antique birthing chair is from New Orleans and the custom kitchen island has a Carrara marble top.
19Pool House Kitchen
Designer Sarah Wittenbraker opted for glossy blue cabinetry, toile wallpaper, and cement tile for a pool house kitchen.
The kitchen countertops are poured concrete, and the doors, window frames and custom cabinetry are all painted in a custom color that helps the single row of countertops make a bit impact in this Greek home.
22Modern Galley Kitchen
In the galley kitchen of a bohemian family home, the kitchen's range and microwave are by Wolf, the refrigerator is by Sub-Zero, the custom hood is by Vent-a-Hood and the countertop is Calacatta Gold marble. Hans Wegner chairs, purchased at auction, accompany a table by Eero Saarinen from Design Within Reach. The vintage pendant light is by Max Ingrand for FontanaArte.
23Dark And Sleek
In a Monaco apartment abundant with 70s whimsy, the small kitchen table and chairs are by Jeanneret. The oven, cooktop and hood are by Aster Cucine. Meanwhile, sunlight floods into the space, making it appear larger than it really is.
24Dark Yet Inviting
The kitchen in this neutral NYC apartment features cabinets lacquered in a custom shade by Donald Kaufman Color, proving dark shades don't always accentuate a room's small size.
25Bright and Airy
Fashion stylist-turned-decorator Estee Stanley transformed the kitchen in her Mediterranean-style Los Angeles home into a bright and airy space. The design includes a fresh white palette with stainless steel touches. To complete the look, Stanley opted for a Viking hood, a Waterworks faucet, and Ikea barstools.
26Neutral, Modern Kitchen
A modern kitchen by architect Achille Salvagni crafted for a storied Roman palazzo, combines a brass light fixture and a Venetian portrait from the s.
The Chelsea kitchen of Etsy's COO features dark charcoal cabinetry, which adds contrast to the white walls and marble countertop.
28Rustic Connecticut Kitchen
For a kitchen in a Connecticut family home, design duo Vivian Lee and James Macgillivray collaborated with a local millworker Wayne Tobin. The appliances in the kitchen are from Miele, GE, LG, and Fisher & Paykel. Most of the light fixtures in the space are from Schoolhouse Electric, with the exception of the Minka ceiling fans.
29Charming Paris Kitchen
In a charming Paris apartment, an open-concept kitchen and dining area is outfitted with 17th-century French chairs, a Napoleon III chandelier, along with a backsplash featuring 18th-century Portuguese tile. The custom French oak boiseries and cabinets are in the style of the 18th century. The kitchen's flooring is antique oak and the fireplace is original to the apartment.
30A Modern Finish
A s Connecticut weekend house gets a modern makeover; In the kitchen, the island has a top of honed Carrara marble, the wall tiles are by Waterworks, the stove is Viking, and the stools are by York Street Studio; the 19th-century Windsor chair is a family heirloom, and the s English pendants are from BK Antiques.
In this Manhattan home, high above the city, the kitchen's lacquer cabinetry is custom made for a clean, modern aesthetic. It is echoed in style by the backsplash and countertop, made of Calacatta marble. The range is by Viking, the refrigerator is by Sub-Zero and the print is by Ellsworth Kelly.
Regency chairs with silk cushions surround a Saarinen table tucked away in a cheery corner of the kitchen in this colorful apartment. The walls are lined with vintage silk paper, the artworks are by, from left, Rachel Lee Hovnanian, James Nares, Steven Klein (top), and Mark Shaw, and the television is by Samsung.
Pops of orange infuses energy into a small kitchen design scheme. In an effort to add more light to the space, the ceiling is covered in a textured orange wallpaper. The combination of a light backsplash, paired with dark wood cabinetry and countertops, open up the area.
In a glamorous Paris apartment, the kitchen embraces a fresh vision of luxury with mod pendant lights by Tom Dixon and a custom-made, walnut-veneer kitchen island and cabinetry. The stools are by Mater Design, the ovens and refrigerator are by Gaggenau and the sink fittings are by Franke.
35Grey and White Hues
Grey and white hues add charm to a farmhouse kitchen design featuring a range, hood, and sink by Smeg, fittings by Vola, Carrara marble counters, and cabinetry painted in Farrow & Ball's Cornforth White.
In a Manhattan home, this small blue kitchen features wood-and-marble cabinets commissioned by an artisan in India. The unique light fixture is by Harry Allen, and the appliances are by GE. The walls and carpet anchor the room in a dreamy blue palette.
38Quaint And Colorful
Fabric impresario John Robshaw's Connecticut country house is quaint and colorful. Just because the kitchen is petite doesn't mean it is any less full of life. The kitchen’s settee is by Richard Wrightman, the sink fittings are by Newport Brass, the ceiling lights are by Restoration Hardware, the countertops are marble, and the custom dhurrie is by Robshaw. The walls are painted in Rose Quartz and the cabinetry in Starry Night, both by Benjamin Moore.
In the kitchen of this year-old Craftsman cottage, a super slim island adds dimension—and extra cutting space—to the small kitchen. The alder cabinetry is custom made, the countertops are black granite, and the vent hood and range are by KitchenAid.
41Indian Farmhouse Kitchen
The country home of the Kasliwal family—owners of the legendary Indian jewelry house Munnu the Gem Palace—is in a converted cowshed on the outskirts of Jaipur. In the kitchen, the custom cabinetry was made by a local artisan; brass urns hold wheat, rice, and other grains.
42Stylish City Living
"The kitchen is another example of applying real design ingenuity to small dimensions," Refinery29 founder Christine Barberich says of her Brooklyn Heights space. "My husband found the best appliances he could that were all smaller in scale, so nothing felt out of proportion. I love the XO relief tiles that create the white backsplash. They’re just fun because you might not notice the pattern until you’re up close. We had the concrete countertop made in Bay Ridge by this three-generation family of concrete designers. We loved the idea of having this major industrial moment right in the middle of the apartment and it really does serve as an entertaining area, workspace for cooking, or flower arranging. It’s unexpected in its brutalist vibe against the white backdrop and softer, colored details."
46Minimalist Yet Playful
47A Table For Two
A pair of 19th-century English chairs and a Kartell table fit perfectly into the corner of this tiny Brazilian kitchen in a São Paulo building.
48Traditional Kitchen With Extra Shelves
In Marisa Tomei's home, the small kitchen is marked by a Saarinen table paired with s French garden chairs. The range is by Viking, the dishwasher is by Asko and the flooring is cork.
49White Sculptural Kitchen
50Farmhouse Kitchen With Rustic Style
In a Woodstock, New York retreat, a pony peeks into the kitchen, which showcases custom-made beadboard cabinetry, a Rohl sink and a vintage Moroccan rug.
51Modern And Understated
In a Moscow apartment designed by Olga Kulikovskaia-Ashby, pendant lights by Tom Dixon hang above a black table in a quaint kitchen. The chairs are by Vitra and the plates on the counter are by Seletti.
52New England Cooking Space
In this Cape Cod cottage, the small kitchen's custom-made cabinetry is painted in Tanner's Brown, and the walls are in Cream, both by Farrow & Ball. The countertops are butcher block, the sink fittings are by Waterworks and the Wedgewood stove is antique.
Magdalena Björnsdotter and Erik Björklund covered their century-old farmhouse in rural Sweden in bright white paint. The black-and-white kitchen includes a flea-market table, industrial-style chairs and a metal-and-driftwood pendant light by Olsson & Jensen.
55Stash Books Up Above
Inside the home of Mark Badgley and James Mischka, bookshelves are placed up to the ceiling to make room for their many cookbooks.
Jeweler Alexis Bittar's kitchen in her Brooklyn Heights home gives off retro vibes, thanks to its checkerboard tile work. The various patterns used add depth to the space.
Model Anne Bannert made the mahogany top for this kitchen's wood-fired barbecue grill. The copper hood is from the same decade, and the steel chair was found at the local dump.
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In a perfect world, you would knock out a few walls and build the kitchen of your dreams from the ground up. Chances are, a major kitchen remodel isn't in the cards for you right now. In that case, incorporate a variety of small kitchen design hacks to maximize your space without compromising your home's overall look and feel, whether it's modern, traditional or farmhouse-inspired.
Here, you'll find small kitchen ideas to fit every style, budget and need, everything from cheap DIYs that you can easily handle on your own to more intensive projects that you may want to hire out. All of these ideas are clever ways to make the most of the space you already have with smart storage solutions, organizing tips and painting how-tos that trick the eye. You'll often be challenged to think high and low, taking advantage of empty wall space, ceilings and lower shelves. In the end, you'll have a kitchen that's beautiful and functional a.k.a. the perfect place for cooking, eating and entertaining.
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Keeping wild aspirations in check can be difficult when viewing compact modern homes on the market. All can be going swimmingly until you walk to the end of a hallway and ask “Where is the kitchen?”, and the real estate agent opens out their arms and says “This IS the kitchen.” Before you head for the exit, consider that small CAN be beautiful. Limited dimensions set challenges in creating a functional and stylish space it’s true, but the two goals are achievable in tandem. These 50 small kitchen designs bring tips on how to make a shining gem out of restricted cooking space by thinking outside the tiny box.
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