The kitchen is the heart of the home – or, at least, that's how the cliché has it. For many of us, though, stuck as we are with tiny spaces in which to cook and eat, the kitchen is nothing more than a source of frustration – cluttered and short on both work and eating space. No matter how small the kitchen, though, there are ways to banish the clutter, and to create for yourself a pleasant and harmonious space in which to spend time. It just takes a little thought, and a little inspiration from the professionals. Are you making full use of wall space, or is everything strewn across counter-tops? Have you maximised the storage capacity of your cupboards? If you stand back for a moment, you might discover acres of unused space in your kitchen, that can be put to work as storage space, freeing up counters and breakfast bars for the pleasurable activities of cooking, eating and socialising. Once you've de-cluttered, you can use a few tricks – like mirrors and good use of colour – to create the illusion that your kitchen is bigger than it is. We've collected a few clever space-saving ideas below, and we hope that they'll inspire you to transform your kitchen, no matter how miniscule, into a room that you can be proud to call the heart of your home.
When you're low on space, the vertical space on walls is your very best friend. Mount a rail or rails on the wall, and hang larger utensils, pot lids, chopping boards, and other shallow items on hooks from it. Instead of having endless canisters holding spatulas, whisks, etc. cluttering up your limited work space, all these items will be to hand but stored in a space that would otherwise be wasted. Painting the wall or wall space (if it's a strip over a worktop) behind your rail in a contrasting colour will show that you mean business, and haven't just whacked stuff up on your walls randomly.
In this clever kitchen design from Studio Andree Weissert all of the kitchen essentials are hidden over-sized drawers. Refuse and recycling bins slot in on the left, while crockery and utensils go on the right. Extra counter space is created on the right-most drawer by building two shelves in at the perpendicular to the main counter-top. Easy access to pots, pans and everyday crockery is provided in the half-height drawer under the hob, while lesser-used items can go on the shelf underneath. Mounting the utensil drawer on the side means it can be full-width without interfering with either the hob or the sink.
You might think that your kitchen isn't big enough to hold any dining space, but you might be surprised. What designers call a 'breakfast bar' is, when it comes right down to it, a shelf with seats placed against it. Look around your kitchen – is there a gap under a window, or on a side wall, where you could install a shelf? All it takes, then, is a couple of stools, pushed under when not in use, and you have a dedicated dining space in your kitchen. If your kitchen is really tiny, you could consider a hinged shelf, that you stow flat against the wall when not in use.
In a room where a goodly proportion of the items stored there are made of stainless steel or aluminium, magnets are a godsend. A simple magnetic strip on the wall will hold all of your knives; a larger magnet – perhaps integrated into a noticeboard (as seen in this ideabook) or as a splashback on one wall – will hold larger items like pot lids. Again, the idea is to make full use of vertical space to give you more room to move and live.
In a confined space, cupboard handles, believe it or not, can take up quite a significant portion. If each handle on your cupboards protrudes 3 or 4 centimetres into your kitchen, that's 3 to 4 centimetres on each side of a small space that you can't move around in. So ditch them! Spring mounted door openers will not only save you physical space, they'll also create smooth, clean lines that will trick the eye into thinking there's more room available than there really is.
Open your cupboards, and look at the inside of your doors. What do you see? Unused space! (Probably.) Mounting shallow shelves on cupboard doors, as in this bespoke oak larder by Maple & Gray Ltd., will give you precious extra centimetres that you can use for storage of small items like spices, packets, salt, etc. An alternative idea is to mount hooks inside cupboard doors to hang chopping boards, lids, or bags.
Not so much a space-saver, this one, as a space-creator. Mirrors are the masters of illusion when it comes to creating a sense of space. Particularly if you obscure their edges – as has been done here by mounting the mirror between a shelf and a countertop, thus hiding its upper and lower edges – a mirror will create a kind of 'window on the world', making it seem like you're gazing into an extension of the space, when all you're really seeing is that space reflected back at you. Mounting a mirror so that it catches the light from nearby windows will only add to the effect.
Galley kitchens can sometimes seem claustrophobic – those serried ranks of cupboards above and below creating the impression of a tight, cramped workspace. Breaking up the uniformity of your wall-hanging cupboards by painting them different colours, or hanging them at different heights, will create visual interest, distracting your from your kitchen's limited size.