It's a common problem. Rifling through the multitude of interior magazines, kitchen articles always align themselves with the most spectacular photographs of grand kitchen displays in unbelievably spacious environments. Of course they do. Small kitchens just don't carry the same impact or allow the subject matter to be encapsulated as a whole in the photograph.
The problem is that the majority of home-owners are living with more, shall we say, 'compact' kitchens as this is the age of developing as small a space as possible for the most pounds per square foot. So builders are always going to try to squeeze in as much as they can into the smallest space. This is the world we live in. However, small can be very beautiful as well as practical if designed and dressed correctly. It can also give you far more concentration on your favourite ideas and aesthetics without having to cover vast areas with them.
Firstly, how do you feel about natural light? Do you walk into a dark room and feel instantly uneasy if there isn't lots of light or do you quite like the moodiness of low lighting? If you have tendencies towards the latter, skip the next paragraph completely (actually, don't - there are a few things that would still apply).
More light = more space. So, the more light you bounce around a small room the better. Lighter tones do this naturally, so aim for much paler shades of your favourite colours or stick to the simple white or creams. Although they are a little more high maintenance, high gloss doors are great for small spaces as the reflections add depth to the doors and reflect the light you have. Going for integrated appliances allows you to add more of these reflective doors and create more reflection whilst creating a seamless effect and giving it a larger appearance. Bring your splashbacks above your work surface into play - consider using mirror - it blows the space apart and mirror is not expensive. Far less, say, than colour-backed glass or stone. High-gloss floor tiles are a plus as well. Of course, you don't have to use all of these in one small space otherwise it may feel like you hovering in mid-air. Using two of these principles alongside a contrasting surface like some wood doors, natural floor tiles or matte laminate will create a good balance and be more interesting on the eye.
Dark rooms doesn't mean that they have to be the preserve of a reclusive goth. Quite a few kitchens lounge in the basement of a property with little to no natural light. Even then, there are those who prefer darker tones when there is a lot of natural light. The key is that black surfaces such as nero granite or wenge cabinetry create a far more intimate space. Darker woods such as Macassar Ebony & American Black Walnut work wonders in small kitchens. Get these aesthetics correct and the room becomes cosseting rather than claustrophobic. However, keep the tones in check. Too much black (especially matte black) will make you attractive to your local undertaker, unless that is your thing (black also shows up marks more than any other surface!). One more thing - good artificial lighting is key. Using hidden uplighting on top of the units adds more ambience instead of just having the recessed spotlights on full beam.
When it comes to storage, write down everything you have to store away. It could come down to the very last cupboard. If you have to get all your appliances into this room including the washing machine and tumble dryer then it is time to look into every available space-saving storage arrangement out there. There is almost a solution for everything from pull-out ironing boards to plate stackers for the drawers. The best ones are pull-out shelves which use up all the dead space in the otherwise dusty corner base cabinets. Try and keep an eye on everything being 'open'. By this I mean maintaining that gap between the base and wall runs without interruption, for example in a gallery kitchen. Stick the tall units at one end or corner first and plan the rest leading on from there. That way the room will give the best impression of space without interruption."
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