Tiny But Mighty: Style Hacks for Small Kitchens

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Gillian Grefe

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Published on September 12, 2021

A small kitchen might have its practical issues — say, constantly bumping into your significant other while trying to cook — but style issues? Forget about them. Just because your kitchen is diminutive doesn’t mean it can’t be oh-so stylish, says Havenly designer Vivian Torres (her own small kitchen is truly a thing of beauty). Here, Vivian shares three of her tried-and-true ideas for making the most of a pint-sized kitchen.

Upgrade Your Cabinets

New cabinets might sound painfully expensive, but they don’t have to be. Vivian used IKEA Sektion cabinets in her own kitchen, and recommends them because they’re incredibly configurable to fit in any size space. To make it feel more custom, Vivian added trim from Home Depot and hardware from Wayfair before painting the cabinets a cool, crisp shade of Oxford Gray by Benjamin Moore.

If money weren’t an object and she had to do it all over again, Vivian says she’d still choose this route, especially for the huge impact it had on the kitchen’s appearance and its functionality. But, she warns, “it involves many trips to IKEA.” 

IKEA kitchen cabinets

Add Easy, Open Shelving

If Vivian could choose a single product to marry form and function, it would be the humble, easy-to-install open shelf. “Open shelving is another way to level up your kitchen scene with a DIY touch,” she says.

The airy feel of open shelving can make a small kitchen feel bigger, and it offers an instant styling opportunity, allowing you to show off pretty vessels, cooking utensils, and cookbooks. Practically speaking, you probably don’t want all your storage to be open shelving (sometimes, you just need to shove all your mismatched bowls and mugs in a cabinet!), but for an eye-catching and artful statement, you can’t beat the impact of an open shelf.

open shelving in kitchen

Play With Paint

Is there anything paint can’t transform? Your kitchen is no exception. While Vivian loves the blue-tinged shade of her cabinets, she paired it with a warm, neutral hue for the walls called Whipped by Clare. That doesn’t mean you, too, have to go light and airy, though. Vivian also can attest to the power of a dramatic color.

“Painting light walls a dark, moody color is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to revamp a space,” she says (her own bedroom is Black Berry by Benjamin Moore, which has a subtle blue undertone).

After her own kitchen renovation went south with the wrong color grout, Vivian enlisted paint yet again, covering the grout and tile with a fresh, new hue. “It created a shimmery, textured element to the space,” she says. And yes, for the record, painting kitchen tiles is definitely a thing.

blue kitchen cabinets

Whether you try DIY or bring in the professionals, changing up your cabinets, adding open shelving, and selecting a gorgeous, new paint color are the main ingredients for a seriously stylish small kitchen — but our designers have a few other tricks up their sleeves. See what we mean with our style quiz!

Words by Sara Watson