75 Small Kitchen Design Ideas That’ll Help You Do More with Less

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a kitchen with turquoise tiled floor and a wood table with yellow chairs and a banquette with striped fabric, rattan pendant, counter with sink and shelves above and wood cabinets below, steps go to a doorway out to terracepinterest
Matthieu Salvaing
1

All-Day Diner

a kitchen with a stove and stools
David Land

When the architecture firm Method Design and interior designer Nina Barneih-Blair teamed up on the design of this 490-square-foot Manhattan apartment, they needed to make the most out of every square inch. The solution? A kitchen island that serves multiple purposes over the course of the day—from ad hoc office to dinner party venue. An all-white palette of glossy cabinets and surfaces helps flaunt the flat’s greatest asset: natural light.

2

Zippy-Colored Cabinets

gary mcbournie house tour pics
Annie Schlechter

This space, in a Beverly Hills house designed by Gary McBournie, might be a mere butler’s pantry, but it offers plenty of inspiration for small kitchens. If it’s within your budget, opt for cabinets that offer a bit of Hollywood Regency glamour, like these ones here. If not, paint your existing ones in a vacation-ready hue like a bright key lime. The sunburst light fixture reminds us that it’s always happy hour somewhere!

3

Bold Flooring

a kitchen with turquoise tiled floor and a wood table with yellow chairs and a banquette with striped fabric, rattan pendant, counter with sink and shelves above and wood cabinets below, steps go to a doorway out to terrace
Matthieu Salvaing

One of the best design sleights of hand? Distraction. So if your cabinets or counters are ugly as sin, create visual interest with your floors. While we don’t have a single complaint about this breezy Ibiza kitchen designed by Studio Muñoz (take a look at that terrace!), the sea-blue tiled floors are a simple yet effective style statement. Even if a renovation might not be in the cards for you, a colorful kitchen rug will do the trick.

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4

Towering Cabinets and White Paint

nate berkus associate upper east side
Kelly Marshall

The client of this Manhattan apartment doesn’t use her small galley-style kitchen that often, but that didn’t keep designer Lauren Buxbaum Gordon from making it a showpiece. Her signature move? To extend the cabinetry all the way up to the soaring period ceilings. Light countertops and a glossy white paint job let sunshine into the room, but it’s the gleaming gold hardware and accents that really make this small kitchen a winner.

5

Cream Dream

husband wife san remo apartment
Chris Mottalini

This apartment, designed by New York firm Husband Wife, employs Buxbaum Gordon’s towering kitchen cabinet rule. But rather than resort to the usual all-white, the designers clad the walls in a swirling marble and coated the cabinets in the dreamiest shade of glossy cream paint. It’s the perfect combo of classic and contemporary.

6

Inky Black Backsplash

eric allart elle decor
Simon Upton

When you’re working with a 16th-century townhouse, like French designer Eric Allart did, you have to embrace the period quirks. This kitchen came complete with terra-cotta tiles. Rather than rip them out, Allart kept them in place and designed a quirky kitchen in unexpected hues to complement them. Here, an inky tile backsplash refracts sunlight, and a Pepto-pink shade on the walls and ceilings works to move the eye upward.

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7

Eclectic and Collected

in the kitchen are bookshelves on either side of a hot pink antique pie safe with shelves and art objects on top, a victorian carving above, and a goat sculpture sits beneath it
Kirk Davis Swinehart

Sometimes it’s best to embrace the chaos. And we can’t think of a better example than this jubilant kitchen nook belonging to William Cullum, the senior designer at Jayne Design Studio, and his partner Jeffery Rhodes. A hot-pink Victorian-era pie safe-houses antique serveware, while a goat sculpture (formerly a display fixture at Saks Fifth Avenue) cheekily guards the fridge (camouflaged in whimsical artwork) against midnight snack marauders. In this space anything truly goes, as long as you do you.

8

Pair Smart Storage with a Fresh Hue

suzie de rohan willner house
Rachael Smith

This Victorian farmhouse in the Oxfordshire, England, digs of Toast CEO Suzie de Rohan Willner may be on the small side, but it sings with country charm. Bright green lower cabinets help the eye to zip around the space, while open shelving allows for smart storage and display of chic knickknacks.

9

Splashy Hues

revamp interior design danielle fennoy brooklyn apartment
David Land

This Brooklyn apartment is blessed with super-tall ceilings and tons of natural light. Designer Danielle Fennoy of Revamp Interior Design amped up the airiness in the combined kitchen and dining area with vibrant jolts of jewel-toned colors, including with this emerald green backsplash (which replaced the original, developer-installed white subway tile) and retro-chic Knoll dining chairs reupholstered in scarlet, “nightclub ready” Ultraleather.

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10

Tiny Dining

in the kitchen a 19th century architect s table and 1950s school chairs the range is by viking and the metal cabinets are original
Pieter Estersohn

A small area didn’t stop Nate Berkus from incorporating a diminutive table and chairs (a vintage architect’s desk and school chairs) into his former Chicago kitchen. The metal cabinets were original to the 1929 apartment and pack in just the right amount of industrial-chic storage.

11

Shipshape Charm

a galley kitchen has cabinets topped with a white marble counter, sink with a glass pendant above, open shelves, an open dutch door, bead board cabinets, stove and oven with tools hanging above, green tiled backsplash
Stephen Kent Johnson

You’d never believe it, but this Provincetown, Massachusetts, cottage started life out as a humble fishing shack. Designer David Cafiero embraced the nautical theme throughout the house, including in this pint-size galley kitchen, which was modeled after a ship’s cooking space.

12

Jewel Box Kitchen

cochineal jane street apartment
Joshua McHugh

Like most busy New Yorkers, the resident of this Manhattan apartment doesn’t have time to cook often, but that doesn’t mean the kitchen plays second fiddle to the rest of the home. Instead Sarah Mendel and Risa Emen of Cochineal Design converted the space into a functional showpiece of its own, with bold marble and cabinets lacquered in Farrow & Ball’s sultry Preference Red. Bonus: It’s the perfect nook for displaying the client’s collection of ceramics.

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13

Mini Island

nicholas obeid house tour
Tim Lenz

Just because you have a miniature cooking space doesn’t mean you need to forgo areas to prep and dine. The trick is to think small, as with this diminutive kitchen island in an apartment designed by Nicholas Obeid. With vintage stools tucked beneath and a pair of Allied Maker pendants hung above, this vignette has all the impact of its sprawling suburban cousins.

14

Statement Hood

townhouse transformation
Brian W. Ferry

We love how this kitchen, in a family-friendly Brooklyn apartment for the cofounders of Civilian, packs in plenty of storage with whimsical details. The custom island, topped with an eye-catching piece of marble, doubles as a repository to stash cookbooks and dinnerware, while the cherry-red hood (also custom) adds a fun postmodern pop.

15

Burnt Sienna Lacquer

a galley kitchen has cabinets below and above counters that have cracked red lacquer, the floor, counters, and walls are white and black marble, a rotisserie is on the back wall, a stove and oven are at right with a sink at left
Stephan Julliard

We’ve been seeing lacquered cabinets everywhere lately and this chic example, located in a Paris pad designed by Hugo Toro, proves that the finish can add extra oomph to even the smallest of spaces. In addition to the glossy coat, in a custom shade of burnt sienna from Redfield & Dattner, Toro incorporated handsome brass finishes (just check out that ceiling!) and bold marble on the walls, countertops, and ceilings.

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16

Airy and Bright

dan sallick washington dc house
Jennifer Hughes

Relying on a light palette is one of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to creating the illusion of space, and with good reason. Here, in the Washington, D.C., home of Dan Sallick and Elizabeth Miller, feathery marble, crisp white cabinets, and warm timber details work in concert to foster the airiest of cooking nooks. The inky David Weeks chandelier adds a graphic touch.

17

Lavender Kitchen

lisa corti  elle decor
Oberto Gili

Sure, green and black kitchens have been trending in recent years, but we love this happy pale lavender version in the Milan apartment of Lisa Corti. The hue works to delineate the space, which the textile designer further personalized with open shelves, knickknacks (we love the framed photo of the cat), and a sky-blue table.

18

Boxed In

green lacquered cube hold appliances next to an island in pink marble
Ye Rin Mok

Who says thinking inside the box is a bad thing? It certainly isn’t in this sculptural kitchen in a Los Angeles bungalow designed by LAUN. A green lacquered volume not only is a chic way to camouflage the refrigerator, it also serves as a handy device to break up the home’s mostly open floor plan. High-shine brass cladding around the sink and cabinets, meanwhile, amplifies the room, not to mention gives the scheme a glam Midas touch.

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19

Geodesic Kitchen

airy kitchen with island with black stools and orangey wood cabinetry
Trevor Tondro

Not all of us can say we live in a refurbished 1970s geodesic dome, like hatmaker Nick Fouquet, but there are still spatial lessons to be gleaned from the kitchen: Instead of fighting the quirky architecture, Fouquet embraced it, creating a faceted cooking area and echoing the building’s geometries in the island. He even installed shelving in the triangular-shaped structural elements.

20

A Miniature Breakfast Nook

elle decor  best small kitchen ideas
Kirsten Francis

Even though designer and paint entrepreneur Nicole Gibbons has a small New York apartment, she made her kitchen feel light and airy by painting the walls an ever-so-subtle duck egg. A petite breakfast nook—complete with its own tiny gallery wall—makes the most of her square footage and her budget, with a small table from Amazon and Marcel Breuer–style chairs.

Headshot of Anna Fixsen

Anna Fixsen, Deputy Digital Editor at ELLE DECOR, focuses on how to share the best of the design world through in-depth reportage and online storytelling. Prior to joining the staff, she has held positions at Architectural Digest, Metropolis, and Architectural Record magazines. elledecor.com 

 

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