Small Kitchen Survival

Q. Our kitchen feels so cramped. Any tips for making it feel more airy?

A. The first step is not to rush it. You need to know the house and your patterns. Start by collecting pictures to see what you like. It’s worth taking some time and getting it right in your mind.

Sometimes when things seem too small in a kitchen, it’s not that there is too little square footage, rather, it is the layout that’s dysfunctional. By reorganizing your major appliances, workspace, and traffic areas, the exact same size kitchen can feel much bigger.

Make a sketch (in scale) of your floor plan, then take some tracing paper with pencil and play with the design. Draw in doors and windows, and start putting in things such as an island and appliances where you think they might work. And don’t forget that you can move gas and plumbing lines, even it’s a little more costly. You don’t want to go with the lesser design for the sake of money. The very thing you think you’re saving on can decrease the value on a remodel.

Islands are great for adding counterspace, but they also congest foot traffic. You need to protect your work station so that you’re not constantly bumped into. At the same time, you should consider access to the fridge or traffic flows to the living area. This usually requires an island being turned or moved. You don’t have to ditch it entirely; just shift it to an area that is work-friendly and has more space.

If you have a small space, put dark colors on the horizontal planes, such as the countertops, and floors, and the light colors on vertical spaces, such as cabinets and walls. This ‘visual weight’ effect can make a space look twice as large.

When space is just too tight and no amount of renovations will change that fact, consider switching rooms. Maybe your dining area would really make a better kitchen and vice versa. Also, contemplate the idea of opening a wall between the kitchen and adjoining room. It’s actually not such a huge endeavor. By knocking down a wall, you can bring everything together to create a sense of openness.

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