Small Kitchen, Big Ideas.

While they may be compact, small kitchens can certainly pack a punch! But because they’re often underestimated, we find that many homeowners are unaware of the design aspects that can actually maximise the space available. 

When it comes to utilising the space in a small kitchen, planning is crucial. Smaller kitchens provide an opportunity to get super creative, but it’s important that you have a clear idea of the outcome you want before you start. With the right colours, lighting, cabinetries, and finishes, your small kitchen layout can be transformed into something truly magnificent. 

Learn from our Kitchen Designers as they share their advice for small kitchen designs. 

Small Kitchen Layouts

When designed correctly, a small kitchen is the perfect balance between form and function. The function, or the main working stations, need to be carefully thought out, as there is a fine line between convenience, and feeling cramped! On the other hand, the form or aesthetic of your kitchen can be as you please - the only limit is your imagination!

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So, what are the layout options?

Kitchens come in all shapes and sizes, but here are three of the most popular layouts for small kitchens:

  • Galley style: Super efficient and convenient! Defined by two parallel sides with a narrow passage between, a galley is a smart design that offers a practical option for storage, work zones, and freedom of movement.  Example

  • U-Shape: Sometimes called a C-shape), this layout offers maximum bench and storage space. One of the benefits is the ability to use the ‘return bench’ for double-sided storage as well as a seating area or servery.  Example

  • L-Shape: A popular choice for apartment kitchens, an L-Shaped kitchen layout offers a more open ambience, creating freedom of movement and less likelihood of feeling cramped - a popular choice to surround the kitchen table with! Example

Lighting for Small Kitchens

In small kitchen design, lighting is your best friend. By highlighting and accentuating certain features in the kitchen, lighting brings an innovative approach to kitchen transformation. To create the impression of space, a feature pendant or hanging light is an excellent way to draw the eye and create depth. 

Light sources can either be natural, electric or a combination of both – essential for both practical tasks and your sense of space, but also in terms of ambience. If you are renovating, make sure to include this factor into your planning. Creating larger/longer or completely re-positioned windows or skylights to allow more light in is a move your future-self will thank you for!

As far as electrical lighting, selecting the right placement for task and ambient lights is essential to ensure your kitchen is as practical and enjoyable to work in as possible. Lighting up cupboards and open shelving is a great way to ensure you don’t have any dark corners!

As far as electrical lighting, selecting the right placement for task and ambient lights is essential to ensure your kitchen is as practical and enjoyable to work in as possible. Lighting up cupboards and open shelving is a great way to ensure you don’t have any dark corners!

Don’t underestimate the magic of reflective surfaces which bounce light around the space. This can be achieved with your benchtop and choice of splashback tiles.  And if it suits your home, mirrored splashbacks are a real winner for the illusion of space.  Reflecting that outdoors back into your kitchen can be a real feature as well! 

LED lights have the effect of lifting a space and creating wow factor, and from a practical perspective really come into their own when designing small kitchen storage solutions (as you can see in these examples.)

TOP TIP:  Dark colours absorb light and have the effect of enclosing a space.  Use darker colours sparingly. 

Colour Schemes

Your choice of paint can either make or break your small kitchen design. When contrasted against one another, specific colour tones can create the illusion of space - something that’s extremely desirable in small kitchens. 

White and neutral colours are popular choices for small kitchen design as they evoke an open, airy feeling. Matching these lighter tones on your walls and cabinitries is a great way to create a spacious feel. Why? Because focal points are removed! Pale colours reflect natural light and blur the hard lines between the different features in your kitchen. So when multiple surfaces are blended with the same colour, the eye is not drawn to one specific area and depth is created.

Smart Storage Solutions

Storage is one of the biggest considerations in small kitchen design. Because you’re already limited on space, it’s important to keep clutter locked away behind closed doors. We recommend opting for cabinet storage, rather than shelving, to keep space open and uncluttered.

We’ve listed some of our favourite storage solutions to set you on the path for inspiration bewlow, but if you want more information, feel free to get in touch with one of our talented Design Consultants.

The Blind Corner: 

Those hard-to-reach corner cupboards that become graveyards for ice-cream containers, un-used appliances, and mouse traps need to go! These are actually large cavities that present opportunities to maximise space which is definitely needed in a small kitchen. Take a look at these clever solutions including corner drawers and dynamic shelving!


If you have an open-galley or a U-shaped kitchen, consider the option of double-sided cabinetry. With this option, cabinetry space is then available on both sides of the working bench. It’s a fantastic way to maximise the space that you do have!

Goodbye Dead Space 

Toe kicks are the finishing boards that tidy up the space between the floor and the cupboard. But these can become genius storage solutions! Toe-kick drawers are increasingly popular in modern small kitchens or apartment kitchens, offering that extra bit of storage space that can mean the difference between a cluttered or clear bench.

Pull and Push

Food storage is a biggie, but traditional pantries are a criminal waste of space in small kitchens! Rather, towers and pull-out pantries are exceptional, slimline options for your grocery storage needs. Additionally, narrow cabinet options can be designed for specific work-zone requirements. All of these offer an optimal use of space as well as ease of access and organisation. What’s not to love?

Trash Talk

Say goodbye to oversized rubbish and recycling bins! Pull-out kitchen bins offer a hygienic and efficient use of space with the added benefit of being less odorous and easy to clean! Double-bin drawers are a real space-saving solution that customers love - especially popular in an apartment kitchen where rubbish bins are not easily stored.


With thoughtful planning and great design, your small kitchen can be optimized to feel spacious and luxurious. At Mastercraft, we understand that there are no limits to kitchen design. If you’re ready to transform your kitchen into that of your dreams, make sure you reach out to your local Mastercraft dealer. They can’t wait to help!

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