50 Small Kitchen Decorating Ideas That Prove Square Footage Doesn't Matter

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Image Credit: Marisa Vitale

When it comes to interior design for small spaces, the key to a successful project is meticulous planning. Never is this more the case than when dealing with a small kitchen. Regardless of the floor space, your culinary prep zone is the heart of the home. Even if you aren't a gourmet chef, you will undoubtedly find yourself there when guests come over — it's just a natural gathering spot. But you don't need a massive dining area with a kitchen island the size of, well, an island in order for things to be functional and attractive.

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To prove that square footage doesn't matter, we pulled exactly 50 of our favorite small kitchen decorating ideas to get you inspired — and then some.

1. Get creative with storage.

Consider overlooked or underused areas, like below the sink and even between cabinets, as seen in this streamlined small kitchen design by Henrybuilt. It makes the most of a vertical area with a bank of cabinets. Henrybuilt founder Janet Hall notes that "When you're working with limited space, you have to use super-efficient products to make small kitchens act big. [The Vertical Bar Block] a recent innovation from Henrybuilt [brings] function to corners, small spaces, and zones that prove challenging in terms of kitchen design." She also shared that this creation "acts as a tool box, including an electrical outlet as well as tailored storage for cutting boards, wine bottles, cooking tools, knives, and trays."

2. Keep it neutral.

Resist the temptation to over-decorate and add multiple paint colors when you have a particularly small workspace. If you don't, the abundance of home decor can make the room look and feel choppy. This soothing zone by Studio Gild is stunning even though it's quite neutral. High-gloss cabinets and a reflective kitchen backsplash bounce light, adding depth and movement. An oversize flush-mount light fixture is functional without taking up a lot of visual space, while black stools speak to the darker kitchen cabinets and ground the room. A vase of fresh flowers adds a subtle pop of color.

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3. Work with your natural light.

There's nothing quite like natural light to add warmth and the feeling of openness to a room. If you're working with an enclosed kitchen, or you're unable to create a door or window, don't forget to consider adding light from above. This area, by the talented interior designers at deVOL Kitchens, showcases an expansive skylight that floods the room with an abundance of natural rays. The team also paired cream cabinets with an eggshell-hued small island for a serene, traditional color scheme. A bank of glass cabinet fronts breaks up the wall, and mini pendant lights add period detail without visual weight.

4. Opt for open shelving.

Open shelves have gotten a lot of play in the last few years and for good reason. They're a versatile option, and they work in almost any style of kitchen from modern to rustic to traditional. This storage idea is also ideal for displaying beautiful collections of ceramics and dinnerware. In this space by Daleet Spector Design, a trio of open shelves on each side of a square window anchors the open-concept kitchen and adds visual height. Clear pendant lights illuminate the space without breaking the sight line, and a plywood island brings warmth to a cement tile floor and backsplash.

5. Use glass cabinetry.

If you love the look of open shelving but aren't prepared for the upkeep they require, glass cabinets are a great small kitchen decor idea. They can be used in conjunction with solid cabinets to break up the visual heaviness while still allowing for some covered storage space to hide necessary, but less attractive, kitchen staples. This timeless white kitchen by Dekar Design features a series of glass uppers bookended by a set of floor-to-ceiling wood-front cabinets. The glass adds visual interest while breaking up the solid built-ins and is complemented by a classic marble backsplash. Dark wood stools bring a rustic note and a bit of edge to the elegant space.

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6. Splurge on a statement-making slab.

We love marble and all its glamour but know that its beauty comes with a steep price tag. One perk of having a small kitchen, though, is that there's less counter space to cover. That might make purchasing a slab of eye-catching stone more of a reality. Sarah Sherman Samuel uses a green-vein marble countertop and backsplash for maximum impact for this stylish kitchen look. She adds warmth with a wood-topped island. And a pair of gold pendant lights and Fireclay Tile on the floor — applied in a herringbone pattern — personalize the space and add to the glam factor.

7. Let less be more.

This organized small kitchen remodel from Studio Gild leaves the countertops virtually bare. And the open shelving has just a handful of decorative items for interest. Wood cabinets bring plenty of warmth to the sparse space and neutral surfaces. Consider forgoing cabinet pulls, as seen here, to enhance the orderly and uncluttered look.

8. Reorient your tile.

Thinking outside the box when working with a small kitchen can have a significant design impact. Play with the tile vertically or stack them on top of each other, instead of staggering it the traditional way. You can also experiment with the size of your grout lines. In this compact kitchen by Barrett Made, subway tile applied in an unexpected vertical offset pattern draws the eye up and creates the feeling of height while the cool, iridescent colors allow light to play and give the illusion that the wall is receding. Here, a pair of terra cotta pendant lights add an earthy, textural quality that warms up the modern space.

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9. Plan your light fixtures.

Don't forget to consider your light fixtures. Their location and style can have a real effect on the overall look and feel of your culinary space. And while they might seem basic (read: boring) don't neglect recessed lighting either. To cast a sunny, even glow over the entire space, choose 3000K LED recessed bulbs if your walls are white or cream or 3500K if your walls are a deeper color. Shea of Studio McGee pairs an eye-catching midcentury-inspired chandelier with plenty of recessed lighting for a small kitchen that's equal parts gorgeous and practical. A marble island paired with hunter green cabinets and oil-rubbed bronze hardware has a fresh and modern feel to it that we dig.

10. Make room for some spirits.

You may not have all the space in the world in your home for a bar cart. But that's no problem. This smart and fun idea will impress any mixologist and add to the personality of your snug kitchen. Hang a sturdy shelf right above the counter and fill it with your favorite mixers and spirits.

11. Avoid finishes that are too trendy.

Like we said before: Neutral color palettes are a nice go-to for cozy kitchens. And they tend to stay clear of falling into the trap of trends that will look dated within a couple of years. Going with an all-white look will stand the test of time and make your space seem way bigger. It also works with a plethora of countertop materials from tile to natural stone slab. Try adding darker flooring for some contrast and natural wood accents like an open shelf.

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12. Make every corner count.

Image Credit: Hunker in Partnership With Acme Real Estate

Going with open shelves in your tiny kitchen can make things feel more open. But if you're not ready to commit to shelving filled with plates and glasses, install some smaller ledges for spices and tiny knickknacks in a corner next to your cooktop to keep your counter space wide open.

13. Downsize your island.

Image Credit: Hunker in Partnership With Acme Real Estate

You ​can​ have important design elements, like a functional island or bar, in a small kitchen. Just keep it simple. This bright kitchen proves our point. It features all the important things, but they're petite to match the floor plan. Incorporating a sink into the island and keeping appliances on one wall means there's still room to eat at one of the stools with plenty of space for meal prep.

14. Keep your knives out.

If having enough drawer space is an issue, store things like knives and utensils next to your range for easy access. A knife magnet is a functional must for us, and it's a lovely bonus design element. Plus, is it just us, or does this feature make any kitchen look professional?

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15. Take your shelves to the top.

If you have a single wall, make the most of it by hanging multiple organized shelves like the ones in this chic culinary space. We love the idea of keeping things you use less up top and storing your daily must-haves, like coffee cups, down low. And why not place your favorite cookbooks here, too? They'll always be on hand when you need them.

16. Add a table.

If you're stuck with a snug kitchen that is super low on counter space, put in a narrow table that can work for meal prep or a cozy dining spot in a snap. Find something with a lower shelf to store small appliances. Adding a couple of rustic stools and open shelves above will create a place that looks like it was meant to be there all along.

17. Leave storage out in the open.

Small kitchens almost always lack built-in storage. But don't let that get to you. Embrace the shortcomings of your space, and add a shelving unit with commercial kitchen vibes. The chrome finish on the one shown here adds a little life to a previously empty corner. And there's plenty of room to display all your favorite pots and pans.

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18. Go with a smaller stove.

Whether you live in an apartment, a townhouse, or a cottage, there's no rule that you have to have a full-size stove. There are many apartment ranges out there that cook marvelously. You could even go with a vintage style like the super charming one shown here. And a smaller stove means you have more room in your kitchen for things like storage, counter space, and decor.

19. Turn a closet into a cooking nook.

When reworking a kitchen that's already tight on space, take a good hard look at the floor plan. Can you let go of some built-in cupboards or a closet to create a nook with just enough room for a fridge and a gas range? This genius solution added more square footage to a small kitchen just by moving major appliances into what used to be a utility closet. The wood grain finish on the refrigerator doors helps the entire unit look super custom.

20. Don't neglect the built-in bench.

Image Credit: Marisa Vitale

No matter how small a space you're working with, installing a built-in bench with a mix of textile cushions will add extra seating, style, and charm to your kitchen. If you're even just a little handy, you can DIY the project in a weekend. Just follow our step-by-step guide. And once you're done, all you need is a bistro table and an extra chair for the perfect dining spot.

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21. Work all your angles.

Sometimes tiny kitchens come with odd angles and tight corners, but you can still optimize the space. Just take a look at how this stylish setup makes the most of awkward architecture with an apartment-size oven range and compact counter under a slanted roof. We also love how the tile backsplash goes up high for extra wow.

22. Install pot racks on a statement wall.

When it comes to decor, it's the little things that can make a big impact. So go for a statement kitchen accent wall. The blue shade makes simple pot rails feel interesting. And bonus points for matching blue skillets.

23. Make things moveable.

Image Credit: Paul Anderson for Hunker

If you haven't thought about adding an island or a storage cabinet with wheels to your kitchen, now's the time. In close quarters, having things that can be pushed aside when you're hard at work cooking is key. And while you're at it, consider finding something with a pop of color.

24. Open things up.

If all you've got to work with is a small corner kitchen, open things up like Shavonda Gardner did in this cheery space. Cabinets and open storage all come together with special touches like a fun pendant above the concrete sink, checker tile on the floor, and a stainless steel work table with a stone top that provides extra counter space. Everything looks custom, curated, and personal.

25. Tuck away small appliances.

Things like toasters and stand mixers can take up too much room, especially when smaller kitchens are low on counter space. So what's our advice? Hide all those small appliances. You can even slide the microwave into a nook below the counter so it's still easy to access. Just use this sleek and functional cook space for inspiration.

26. Skip the large fridge.

If your household is small, why not go with a small refrigerator? They use less energy and save tons of space. Smeg has apartment size models that come in a plethora of pretty colors. And we especially love the pink one here that matches with the retro toaster, coffee maker, and pot.

27. Keep seating temporary.

Sure, we mentioned storage with wheels, but simple stools and a small wood table turn on the style in this cozy kitchen from Describe the Fauna right when they need to. But when more space is needed, or say a dance floor is requested, they're easy to fold away.

28. Make sure the furniture pulls double duty.

Having a tiny kitchen means you need to be super smart with how every inch is used. So when space is in short supply, we suggest combining a cozy dining nook with extra storage underneath. This look from Almost Makes Perfect features double-duty drawers that are easy to access and comfy for family dinners. And that oversize pendant finishes off the corner with lots of flair.

29. Go with an unexpected floor pattern.

Make a splash with a floor in an unexpected pattern or color. This modern kitchen by Anne Sage may be small on space, but it goes big on style with plywood cabinets, a reclaimed wood backsplash, and tiled floors we never saw coming.

30. Be bold with an accent wall.

Keeping things neutral in your small kitchen doesn't have to be boring. Take this gloriously chic and modern space from Homedsgn. White minimalist cabinets, light wood plank floors, and a tiny waterfall bar are all accented with a bold black wall. While most people think a wall darker than the color of your cabinets is a bad move in a small kitchen, we think this is nothing but good. Extra points for the sleek black pendants and bar stools.

31. Install wood countertops for the win.

This charming Sarah Sherman Samuel kitchen turns up the heat with gorgeous wood countertops that you can easily install in your own space with the proper direction. Here's further proof that an all-white kitchen with just the right amount of texture and contrast always works.

32. Bring on the charm with tuxedo cabinets.

If you're into dark colors but are afraid to add them in your tiny kitchen, take a look at these gorgeous tuxedo cabinets. They're fun and not at all domineering. Consider keeping the counters and backsplash a solid white to add an extra sleek effect.

33. Add a fold-down counter and bar combo.

Even if your kitchen is super narrow, fret not. Check out this genius space-saving solution from Ladny Dom. The matching natural wood finish of the counters and the folding work surface is a lovely touch. Add your own, and you'll create the perfect place to have a glass of wine and catch up while food simmers on the stovetop.

34. Make a wine rack the focal point.

The simplest of kitchens can be turned on its head with a wine rack like this one. This floor-to-ceiling statement from Woontrendz will get everyone talking. It turns what could be a boring storage solution into a piece of art. Always try and take a risk or two with decor to make your small kitchen feel custom.

35. Add an optimistic color.

While white kitchens are classic and tend to seem more open, don't be afraid to bring in some cheerful color. Reminder: There are no rules when it comes to cabinet and wall color combinations. You simply want the end result to feel as chipper as this space from Finch. We love the pop of cheery blue cabinets with a beautiful aqua backsplash.

36. Copy a chic Parisian aesthetic.

Create a dining experience in your cozy kitchen that has all the charm and style of a Parisian cafe. Because c'est la vie! Classic bistro chairs, like the ones in this space captured by Tessa Neustadt, in addition to black and white accents add some drama and flair to an all-white space. Choosing a fabric for cushions that reflects your personal style is key.

37. Bring midcentury into the present.

If you love a midcentury modern kitchen but want it to feel current, take a look at this beauty from Uncommon Projects. The space might seem simple at first glance, but the boldness of black cabinets on one wall and bright yellow on the island turn up the wow factor.

38. Match cabinets and counters.

A monochrome kitchen is always surprisingly chic. So we recommend matching your cabinets, counters, and backsplash. And when you're short on space, creating the illusion of a seamless setup instead of having different textures and colors can make things feel bigger, even if you choose a dark color. Don't believe us? This IKEA kitchen proves our point.

39. Add personal touches to bring on the charm.

Not into upper cabinets? Add one long shelf above your counters like this charming look from Poodle and Blonde for all your collectibles and flea market finds. Because no matter how snug kitchen your kitchen is, it still needs to be filled with personal touches. Art belongs everywhere after all, right?

40. Showcase your backsplash.

In any kitchen, the backsplash provides a great opportunity to go big with color or texture. But if your cooking space is just one or two walls or a tiny galley, there's even more reason to make a statement with a bold backsplash like this one from Bolig Magasinet. It turns a somewhat simple kitchen design into something every guest will love.

41. Hide your refrigerator.

This kitchen may be super tiny, but it features a full-size integrated refrigerator that doesn't cramp its style. How? Clever cabinet fronts hide the bulky appliance and add a bold design element. Try incorporating an unexpected contrast of color and oversize door handles to recreate this look from Fisher Paykel.

42. Add wallpaper where you least expect it.

Small kitchens can have really big personalities. Simply add patterned wallpaper inside the back of your cabinets to liven things up just like this maximalist design from Chango & Co. We are loving the bold green with a matching shiplap backsplash — because who said a tiny kitchen needs to be minimalist?

43. Warm things up with some brass accents.

Try adding elegant touches like a brass faucet, pendants, sconces, and cabinet pulls to turn a neutral kitchen into a warm and stylish cooking space. Heidi Caillier does it perfectly here and adds unexpected details like the subtle floral ceramic backsplash and exposed wood beam overhead.

44. Do a fresh take on subway tile.

Subway tile works no matter how big or small your kitchen is. You can update the look by using it for a ceiling-high tile backsplash with a lovely white open shelf like the one in this modern farmhouse kitchen from Studio McGee. We love the similar looking tile on the floor, installed in an interesting pattern.

45. Play with paint.

Love ocean hues? Then you'll be into this soothing and simple tone-on-tone kitchen from Sonder. Light blue walls, a darker blue door, and cabinetry in a slightly different marine-inspired tone make this smaller space the perfect place to get cooking. Play with multiple tones of one color in your snug kitchen for a vibrant look.

46. Make it glamorous.

We think the smaller the kitchen the more risks you can take with decor. And it usually costs less to decorate a petite space, so why not have some fun? Check out this ultra-luxe kitchen from Harry Nuriev, for example. The rich gold touches are glam and so good.

47. Bring in modern art deco flair.

Follow the lead of Gieves Anderson, and add some curve appeal to your tiny kitchen. The result will be decidedly art deco with a fresh twist. Dark navy cabinets and a gorgeous marble slab with gold accents turn this mini cook space into something majorly gorgeous.

48. Add a pinch of industrial.

If you live in a loft or studio apartment, and your kitchen feels a bit austere thanks to all the stainless steel, add some DIY stick-on wood panels to your island or backsplash. They will add a little warmth and create the perfect balance between midcentury modern and industrial. The final makeover will stand out without overwhelming your space.

49. Make a dine-in breakfast nook.

If your cook space is small but you love to throw intimate dinner parties, try this Scandinavian-inspired solution from Fran Parente. It features a clever counter that includes a wrap-around dining space for four. Blonde wood opens things up, while a tile backsplash adds just the right amount of whimsy.

50. Play with paneling for a boho vibe.

This apartment kitchen in Pennsylvania has all the best boho touches, including plenty of plants and statement-making wood accents. If you're thinking of creating an artsy feel in your kitchen, this is a great place to start. Check out the diagonal wood panels on both the backsplash and bar that turn a pretty standard space into something stunning.

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As an Emmy Award winning creative director, writer and producer I have worked on content for brands like Disney, BravoTV, TBS, Universal, E! and MTV. But I mostly love rearranging furniture and repotting plants at home.