Size doesn’t matter.
Having a small kitchen isn’t ideal, especially when you’re trying to decorate. But a smaller space doesn’t mean you have fewer possibilities. There are plenty of small kitchen design ideas that can be implemented in your home, no matter the size!
Follow these steps to customize your rental kitchen, while staying within the requirements of your lease.
Get permission before starting your small kitchen design ideas
If you’re renting, you’ll need to get permission from your landlord to make some of the bigger or more permanent changes, like painting or installing cabinets and shelves. Talk to your landlord and get approval before moving forward with your kitchen designs.
Even if they aren’t on board with bigger things, there are lots of non-permanent things you can do that won’t damage the kitchen, like peel-and-stick wallpaper and tile and switching out the hardware.
Decide on a kitchen design theme
Figure out what style of kitchen you want. Do you want vintage 70s vibes? Rustic? Contemporary? Industrial? Look around online to see what style speaks to you and see what others have done within that style.
Choose your kitchen design tools
You don’t have to use all of these ideas to modernize your kitchen. Pick a few to start out with and go from there. You may change the hardware on your cabinets only to find that it doesn’t look the way you thought it would. Or, you might like the way your new backsplash looks with your existing cabinet colors and no longer feel the need to paint them.
How to design a kitchen
Here are some small kitchen design ideas to help you modernize your space. It’s OK to test a few things out before going in full-force.
1. Pick neutral colors
Whites, grays and browns are your kitchen’s best friend right now. While it’s nice to have a pop of bright color here and there, neutral tones will make your kitchen feel more inviting and not so busy.
2. Utilize white
While white used to be known as more of a “boring” or “bland” color in home décor, it’s become a timeless trend and can make the room feel bright and open. You can go for an all-white kitchen, or if you want to add some color, throw in an accent of a brighter tone, metallics or natural elements, such as plants or wood.
Using white can also give you the freedom to use a variety of textures and shapes that would normally look a little chaotic — try a white honeycomb or herringbone tile (you can find these as peel-and-stick tiles that come off when you move). Or you can use funky textured tiles as your backsplash (also available in peel-and-stick form).
3. Add elements of nature
An eco-friendly lifestyle is big right now, and people are embracing the natural elements of the world in modern kitchen design. Incorporate wood and plants in your décor, and take advantage of windows that let in natural light. Adding some nature to your small kitchen design ideas can turn your food prep area into a peaceful, relaxing place.
4. Be bold with hardware
An easy and affordable way to give your kitchen a quick, modern upgrade is changing out the hardware. Use bold, striking pieces — however that may look for you. You can do anything from finding mismatched drawer pulls at a thrift store to going for large gold handles.
5. Think neat and clean
While you may not be a total minimalist, your kitchen will look a lot cleaner and brighter by keeping the clutter to a minimum.
Clutter and too much busy décor can also make you feel more stressed, so keeping your counters clear from knick-knacks will make your kitchen more calm and easy to work in. Try to keep things hidden away in cupboards or, if you have items stored out in the open, be sure to use organizers to keep it tidy.
6. Gain space with an island
An island is useful for prepping, and it can make your kitchen look a bit more open (as long as it’s the right size for the space). If you’re getting an island, make sure it has storage space. Another bonus if it’s moveable — especially if you’re entertaining and want to open your kitchen area for easy walking and mingling.
7. Conceal your storage
If you have open shelving that ends up looking a little messy at times, you can add doors (with your landlord’s permission, if the shelving came with the apartment) to turn it into a vintage-style larder and hide the mess. You can find other ways to create hidden storage, too. Instead of piling items onto open shelves, opt for matching storage bins.
8. Don’t forget the ceiling
If you’re having a hard time figuring out how to do an accent wall in a small kitchen, try turning your ceiling into a focal point. You can paint it an accent color or use a patterned or textured removable wallpaper for an easy way to breathe life into your kitchen.
9. Work in reclaimed pieces
Being green is in, making reclaimed pieces a great modern design tool. Using vintage, thrifted or reclaimed pieces is great for the environment and it can add one-of-a-kind charm to your kitchen. Chances are that those mismatched plates and mugs you found at the thrift store won’t be found in any other kitchens for miles. And that old wooden bar stool that you sanded down and painted will match your colors perfectly.
10. Ditch the paint
Paint is obviously a must for your home, but you can also go for a patterned or textured wallpaper instead of painting your kitchen a single color. Plus, not all landlords will let you paint. In that case, you can use a peel-and-stick wallpaper, which you can easily remove without damaging the walls when you move out!
11. Install plate racks
Plate racks double as storage and décor, especially if you’re stuck on what to put on an open shelf and you don’t want it to look too cluttered. And plate racks are a must if you are going for a modern farmhouse or vintage vibe in your kitchen!
12. Try two-toned cabinets
Your kitchen cabinets don’t need to be one single color. If you have permission to paint them, add variety by using one color for top cabinets and another color on the bottom. Choose two completely different colors or go for a monochromatic effect, using a darker tone of cabinet for one set and a lighter hue of the same color for the other.
13. Hide appliances
When you don’t have a lot of counter space, leaving appliances like blenders and mixers on them at all times can take over your counter space and make the room look crowded. Instead, when you’re not using these appliances, store them in cabinets or in the pantry. Keeping them off the counters will free up room for you to work in the kitchen while making things look clean and tidy.
14. Ladder up
If you’ve got high cupboards or shelves in your kitchen, then a ladder is both useful and decorative. They come in lots of fun styles and colors, and they’ll help you easily reach the top shelves without using that annoying plastic step stool you have floating around the house.
15. Put accent on floors
If your cabinets and walls don’t have much color or patterns, look to your feet for a fun change — turn your floors into the accent of the room. Colorful tile can be a great addition to your kitchen. There are even removable peel-and-stick vinyl tiles you can use as a renter in case your landlord isn’t on board with putting in new floors.
16. Go heavy on metal
Metallics are especially in this year — even if you’re mixing different metals together. Metals go with any and every color, and you don’t have to stick with the traditional gold, copper and silver. You can find pots and pans in other metallics, from teal to pink, and there are many that have different textures to pick from.
Get creative with your small kitchen design ideas
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you’re going for a modern kitchen design or something more traditional. Choose the design elements that speak to you and not just what other designers and friends say. You’ll be the one using your kitchen, so you should love what it looks like!