Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Design inspiration: how to make the most of your tiny kitchen space


There's something very romantic about a small kitchen. Just ask Rachel Khoo, who launched her career as a respected food writer on the back of the delights she baked up in her tiny Parisian abode.

But cooking in limited space means it's easy for chaos to reign and you'll have to employ a military-style cunning and precision if you don't want to end up with spaghetti in your hair. Work surfaces must be clear, every last spice pot needs to know its place, and colour and accessories should be carefully planned out to maximize the room available.

It's all about balancing style with substance to create a beautiful and practical space that you actively want to spend time in (as opposed to swearing at silently as you struggle to contain a huge pile of dishes and an overflowing bin).

We've selected our favourite small kitchens from the design haven that is Pinterest and drawn out style points from each one. Come find out how to make the most of your tiny cooking space with storage, colour and accessory details:

The boutique kitchen

Photo: eatwell101.com via Pinterest

This delightfully quirky kitchen draws its appeal from a series of offbeat statements. The clever use of unusual accessories breaks up and masks the lack of space. Instead of noticing how little the kitchen is, your eye is drawn to the chandelier, the plant pots, the flower prints on the wall, the market sign and the decoratively arranged plates, bowls and jugs.

Design points:

  • Scour flea markets and junk stores for statement prints, lamps, jugs and jars that can be used to jazz up and diversify your kitchen space.
  • Divide your kitchen equipment into functional and beautiful. Hide the practical things away and save the more photogenic plates and gadgets to put on display - you're storing them and also making a design feature out of them.
  • Invest in a few cheap plants to bring colour and life to shelves and surfaces.

The contemporary kitchen

Photo: bloglovin.com via Pinterest

Sleek stainless steel surfaces and sharp, contemporary design details help to open out the space here. Notice how the few cups and bowls on display are white and work surfaces are devoid of clutter - only those items that are used over and again are kept out, such as washing-up liquid and a cutting board. The exposed brick wall is a nice touch and again lightens up the space.

Design points:

  • Go for a combination of stainless steel and white kitchen units and white walls and shelving to match.
  • Limit both the amount of open shelving you use and what you keep there - it's about creating a sense of homeliness without the residue clutter.
  • Clear your surface space for only the most essential items and create a bit of personality with a fruit bowl and/or herb plants.

The retro kitchen

Photo: Cynthia Little via Pinterest

Own your space, no matter how small, and you will breathe room into it. Without any kind of coordinated design, this space could be bland and a little bit dark. But throw in a Fifties country vibe and it suddenly snaps to life. The key here is to pick a theme and stick to it - it's an all or nothing deal. We love the retro cooker, the upcycled furnishings and the way red is woven through as an eye-catching flash of colour here and there.

Design points:

  • Enrol on an upcycling course in order to transform mirrors, kitchen cabinets and other old bit of furniture into retro-inspired statement pieces.
  • Make a beeline for vintage fairs and markets to stock up on authentic signage, pots, jars and more - plus larger pieces such as vintage ovens, if required.
  • Scour the supermarkets for cheap and colourful textiles - rugs, tea-towels, tablecloths - that conform to a colour code.

The log cabin kitchen

Photo: prohandmade.ru via Pinterest

There's little not to love about this rustic-inspired woodland retreat. Granted, we can't all build our kitchen in a log cabin but what we can draw from it is how to work around the setting you're in. So if you have a big beam in the middle of your kitchen, add hooks in and hang cups from it. Disguise unsightly walls with shelving and add in extra pins and hooks along ceiling beams for overflowing pots and pans.

Design points:

  • For a cosy, welcoming feel without the cost or bulk of cupboards, display all your crockery on open shelves installed around the kitchen and invest in a cute little kettle.
  • Use any awkward beams or walling to your advantage by sculpturing them into makeshift storage areas, with hooks and wooden pins.
  • Give your kitchen a dash of rustic chic by hanging bundles of lavender, hops or cowslip from ceiling beams.

The colour coded kitchen

Photo: homedit.com via Pinterest

Two warm colour themes - cream and egg yolk - help to broaden this gorgeous little kitchen and give it a real sense of identity. The well-placed kitchen island also makes the most of the space available. We particularly love the choice of yellow crockery - it's just enough to give a fizz of energy to the place and lighten it up without being overwhelming.

Design points:

  • Divide and conquer with colour. Chose a neutral shade for all major kitchen units and finish it off with a smattering of bold-coloured bowls and jugs - think cerise, powder blue or deep red-purple.
  • Hunt down a few beautiful pieces to break up your kitchen space, from prints to woven carpets and an upcycled kitchen island that can be used for extra storage.
  • Make a feature of your crockery by showing it off on shelves and in glass cupboards.

The bohemian kitchen

Photo: shelterness.com via Pinterest

Personality and verve compensates for what would otherwise be a very ordinary galley kitchen here. The idea of hanging copper pans from a rack on the wall is a lovely one, complemented by quirky details such as the black and white poster, the floor-standing wine rack and cutlery heaped into bright ceramic vases.

Design points:

  • Head to antique store and junket markets to stock up on copper saucepans, pails and pots which you can hang from a rail along a spare wall.
  • Find a large print from a museum shop like the V&A or The British Museum and frame it cheaply. Alternatively, you could blow up a black and white photo of your own to hang from the wall.
  • Fun little pieces are your friend here; think ceramic jugs and vases which you can heap with herbs or spoons and sieves, colourful rugs and milk pails for wine bottles.

The pattern print kitchen

Photo: homebunch.com via Pinterest

An injection of bold, busy print will give your kitchen definition without drowning it out. We like the way the curtain and tea towel co-ordinate here without exactly matching, backed up by the deep green-blue wall tiles. There are a number of other idiosyncratic details - the low-hanging lamp, the window cabinet and the array of brightly-coloured fruit and flowers - that brighten up the space without overcrowding it.

Design points:

  • Buy a selection of pattern print blinds, tea towels and tablecloths, and place strategically around your kitchen. Don't go overboard; less is more here.
  • Add in a few extra details to give the space warmth and personality - such as a china plate, a cheery bowl or colour block wall tiling.
  • Clear all sides and working surfaces and instead decorate them sparsely with fruit and simple bunches of herbs or flowers.

The minimal kitchen

Photo: bloodandchampagne.com via Pinterest

Just looking at this kitchen makes us feel more relaxed than we were a moment before. Clean, white space... and breathe. The style points here are obvious; hide away nearly everything in your kitchen and leave out just a bare minimum of (neutral-coloured) cups, jars and chopping boards. The old-fashioned, statement-making tap is a wonderful touch, emerging out of the satisfyingly large ceramic sink.

Design points:

  • It's all about white, minimal space. Go for a white ceiling, walls, cabinets and shelving. Add in black handles and doorknobs to your cupboards and drawers for a subtle contrast effect.
  • Get rid of everything on the kitchen sides. Really everything.
  • Line the open shelves you do have with picturesque little bowls, espresso cups, jars, eggcups and utensils.

The boudoir kitchen

Photo: amyvermillion.com via Pinterest

If Marie Antoinette had a kitchen back in the day, we'd imagine it would look a bit like this. Unashamedly opulent, it has the air of an elegant Parisian boudoir, with mirrored cabinets that draw their influence from the beautiful round window, cake stands (for all the cake-eating you'll be doing, naturally), old-school grocery tins and a vase full of purple hydrangeas. It's not the most practical kitchen we've ever seen, but it sure is beautiful.

Design points:

  • Choose mirrored cupboards for a sense of atmosphere and to create an impression of more space.
  • Pick out a few elegant accessories to scatter round the place: a ceramic statue, a bowlful of flowers or an antique jelly mould.
  • Functional features (taps, lamps etc.) should also have a certain style to them. No strip lighting here.

The Scandi-chic kitchen

Chic and sweet, this small square of a kitchen emanates a fresh, airy feel with white units, square open shelving and white wall tiles and wooden ceiling. The pot plants, fruit bowl, cookie jars and glass pastry holder lend a dash of charisma. The whole places feels clean and organised while also managing to be cheery and familiar, with cute little touches such as the woven baskets and large white bowls.

Design points:

  • Go for clear work surfaces in white-painted wood or stainless steel and open shelving.
  • Buy a few pot plants in white pots and scatter them around the place.
  • Gather together clear glass pastry holders, cookie jars, fruit platters and woven baskets for an array of stylish storage solutions.



Top 10 Ikea hacks: imaginative and cost-effective ways to transform furniture


Creative storage and space saving ideas for small homes


Small is beautiful: compact furniture and clever storage ideas that make the most of your living space


Interiors inspiration: makeover your home with these 20 chic statement pieces under £1oo


Fashion week in food; what the models and designers eat and drink at the shows and parties


20 of the world's most stylish small houses and flats