11 Small Kitchen Design and Decorating Ideas That Are Big on Style

modern kitchen with open shelving
Courtesy of @virtuallyherestudios

When it comes to decorating your space, the kitchen is often put at an unfair disadvantage. As the stomach of your home, the kitchen is where you finesse a mouthwatering multi-course meal, reheat last night's leftovers, or uncork your favorite bottle of wine. The kitchen might be undeniably practical—but stylish? Not so much.

In fact, its function-first reputation only becomes more apparent when square footage is at a minimum. When working with limited space, you are forced to think strategically about storing all your pots, pans, and cooking utensils. (Unfortunately, more times than not, strategic and stylish are mutually exclusive.) And, since you're already working with tight quarters, incorporating charming features like a breakfast nook or kitchen island will make your already-small space feel claustrophobic.

But just because you're working with a tiny room doesn't mean your kitchen is on the fast track to design doom. The good news? It is absolutely possible to have a kitchen that is pint-sized, practical, and pretty. For inspiration, take a look at these standout small kitchens from today's top interior designers, ahead.

As the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder—and your kitchen is no exception. The spaces featured here run the design gamut, offering something for everyone. While some designers stuck with light, airy palettes, others experimented with intricate light fixtures, bold pops of color, and unexpected uses of wallpaper. So, whether you're looking to make a statement or create the illusion of a larger space, there's bound to be a tip that piques your interest. (While you're at it, give your kitchen a total makeover with these top storage ideas.)

01 of 11

Rock a Rug

small kitchen with patterned runner rug
Courtesy of Breegan Jane

Consider this space by Breegan Jane a guide to creating a cozy, yet chic, kitchen. Here, the interior designer lined her countertops with a patterned runner. The warm tones and busy print perfectly offset the room's sleek, marble countertops.

02 of 11

Create Contrast

modern kitchen with creative contrast colors
Courtesy of 2LGStudio

Want to make the kitchen pop in your open-concept space? Inject a pop of color, just as 2LG Studio's Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead did here. "Small spaces in open plan apartments can still have a huge impact," Cluroe shares. "Black marble tops keep it grounded and echo the ebony parquet flooring. Don't be afraid to go big on personality in smaller spaces."

03 of 11

Go Over to the Dark Side

small kitchen with dark green colors
Courtesy of Leanne Ford / Reid Rolls

Make no mistake: We love bright, clean, white kitchens as much as the next design enthusiast. However, if you want to give your culinary quarters a fresh edge, go to the opposite end of the color spectrum. With an earthy palette and contrasting backsplash, this space from Leanne Ford is dramatic, not dreary.

04 of 11

Blend In

small kitchen with marble backsplash
Courtesy of Elizabeth Roberts / DustinAksland

Before you start mood-boarding the perfect kitchen, think about how it relates to the rest of your home. "This kitchen was treated like an extension of the living space with custom millwork and a graphic Calacatta Viola backsplash with integrated burners," Elizabeth Roberts says of this well-appointed space. After all, it is possible to have a kitchen that appeals to all of the senses.

05 of 11

Mix and Match

small kitchen with open shelves
Courtesy of Kelly Martin / Meghan Beierle O’Brien

Why settle for one style of cabinets when you can enjoy a few? Take a cue from Kelly Martin, who experimented with varying shades as well as floating shelves. "When laying out the cabinetry in a small kitchen, I like to keep it simple and clean, since a smaller space can feel cluttered so easily," she shares. "I try to envision the walking path of how the client would use it while cooking and provide necessary storage around major work areas, like the stove and the sink."

06 of 11

Defy Gravity

small kitchen with neutral color wallpaper and hanging light fixture
Courtesy of Toledo Geller

As this space from Toledo Geller proves, the only way to go is up. The New Jersey-based design duo peppered this small, neutral kitchen with pops of wallpaper and an intricate light fixture. Not only does this trick draw the eye upward—creating the illusion of tall ceilings—but it also makes the space feel light and airy.

07 of 11

Wow with Wallpaper

small kitchen with wallpaper lined cabinets
Courtesy of Chango & Co. / SarahElliott

Admittedly, a cabinet's interior is one of the most overlooked spaces in the entire kitchen. But, if you want to bring some style to every inch of your room, consider lining your cabinets with a whimsical wallpaper. New York-based design firm Chango & Co. mastered the look here, offsetting the verdant cabinets with a botanical repeat.

08 of 11

Pack on the Pigment

small kitchen with white marble countertops
Courtesy of Sarah Sherman Samuel

If you want to breathe a new life into your all-white kitchen, consider painting half of your cabinets a different hue. Designer Sarah Sherman Samuel elevated this kitchen's crisp palette with seafoam cabinets and elevated brass hardware. Of course, this space has more to offer than good looks. Flanked with parallel counters, this kitchen's galley configuration makes the most of limited square footage.

09 of 11

Try a Bold Backsplash

small kitchen with bold green tile backsplash
Courtesy of Jungalow

You can always flip the color combination by juxtaposing white cabinets with a bold backsplash. Justina Blakeney of Jungalow proves that more is more, thanks to the emerald tiles, floating shelves, and a smattering of plants.

10 of 11

Add a Space-Efficient Island

small kitchen with large eat in kitchen island
Courtesy of Katie Martinez

Want to make the most of your limited square footage? Maximize your counter and cabinet space with an island. Here, Katie Martinez faked the look with a traditional table. "Considering the size of the kitchen, I felt it was important for the island to feel more like a piece of furniture with legs than bulky cabinetry," the Bay Area-based designer explains. The table's sleek silhouette offers plenty of negative space, making the space feel larger than it really is.

11 of 11

Try Some Stylish Shelves

small kitchen with open shelves
Courtesy of Design by Velinda Hellen for EHD / Sara Ligorria-Tramp

When working with a small kitchen, it's important to make the most of every storage opportunity. With that said, finding somewhere to stow your pots and pans doesn't have to be an excuse to give up on style. Decked out with floating shelves—and curated vignettes of spices, dinnerware, and glasses—this space Velinda Hellen designed for Emily Henderson masters the balance between form and function.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles