Tips to Make a Small Kitchen Look Larger

If there’s one room in the house that gets the highest amount of foot traffic and use, it’s certainly the kitchen. Used for a variety of reasons, primarily for meal preparation, cooking, and serving, but also, for a gathering place, a little stop to go through the mail, and where calendars hang, showing a litany of things to do throughout the month. In addition to all of these, it serves as the hub of entertaining, from small, casual get-togethers with a couple of friends, to the place where family congregates.

Unfortunately, though most homeowners and buyers prefer a large, open space, with plenty of working room and all the best in energy efficiency, space-saving appliances, that’s not always a reality. Some properties just don’t have all that much space, be it work area, storage space, or, a combination which lacks in both. When a kitchen looks and feels cramped it cramps your style and makes it difficult to maneuver freely about. You feel confined and a sense of insufficient work space makes you long for more room. The good news is, with a bit of strategic placement, some imagination, and a little bit of effort, you can get more out a small kitchen.


When we think about updating a kitchen, thoughts of ripping out every fixture, from top to bottom, then rewiring, reconnecting plumbing, and finally, topping it off with new appliances and finishes is what typically comes to mind. Along with it, dollar signs fly, with seemingly no end in sight. The truth about updating a kitchen is that you’ll actually get a better return-on-investment if you do a minor makeover. In fact, a major overhaul will not only cost more, it will return less at resale.

“It’s a good bet that when you think about your dream kitchen, it doesn’t include the word “tiny.” Yet that’s the reality that many of us live with: skimpy counter space, a cramped work triangle and precious little space for appliances. If you’re not ready — or willing — to knock out a kitchen wall, you can at least do the next best thing: Create the impression of a bigger space with a few strategic decorating tricks..” —Houzz

A major kitchen remodel nationally averages $54,909, and, fetches an ROI of 74.2 percent, while a minor kitchen update averages just $18,856, or, about one-third the cost, and, brings a return of 82.7, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost versus Value Report. With this in mind, it’s far better to refinish cabinets, switch out the countertop for a slight upgrade, update hinges, pulls, and knobs, put in a new back-splash, change out the sink and faucet, and, brush on a fresh coat of interior paint. The cost is just a fraction and takes a lot less time to complete.


You can do all these things and more, but it won’t necessarily look bigger. You do have other options, though, and can do one or more of the following to make a small kitchen look larger:

  • Knock out a whole or partial wall. Whether it’s a floor to ceiling divide or just a partial room divider, walls are intended to separate two distinct spaces. In some instances, this is accomplished all-too-well, making the kitchen look and feel small. By removing a wall, you necessarily remove a visual barrier, which makes for a more open space.
  • Create a pass-through as an alternative. If it’s a load-bearing wall, you won’t be able to take it out, at least, not entirely. You might be able to do the next best thing, which is to create a pass-through. This will provide a less restrictive visual and functional barrier, making the kitchen appear more open.
  • Lower the breakfast bar. Though breakfast bars provide an ample amount of function, they can also prove to be an aesthetic barrier. By lowering the breakfast bar to align with the rest of the counter, you make a smooth surface all the way across.
  • Clear off the countertops. Clutter is no friend to counter space, practically no matter the size of the kitchen. It’s often a hodgepodge of messy and organized, without ebb and flow. Clear off countertop clutter and neatly arrange what must stay put.
  • Replace the lighting. Light does wonders for a space, and, if your kitchen even has one dark corner, that’s enough to make it appear smaller than it actually is, so, change out the light fixture. If its fluorescent lighting, take initiative and tear it out, replacing it with recessed lighting.

Another option is to pare down on cabinets, especially those which hang. These lessen the distance from the countertop to the underside, making the space between feel boxy and small. What you lose in storage space in the kitchen, you might be able to make-up for elsewhere nearby.