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Looking into a bright, clean kitchen. The lower cabinets are slate blue and the uppers are light wood. The walls are clad in white subway tile and there are orange pots on the shelves.

Custom Residential

Five Ways to Make Your Kitchen Feel Larger

If you’re like us, you probably wish your kitchen had just a little bit more space – it’s one of those places where things just seem to pile up with nowhere to go. It may not be an option to actually increase the size of your kitchen, but here are five smaller projects you can invest in to make your kitchen live larger.

February 4, 2021

Have you ever heard anyone say, “this kitchen is just too big?” The answer is most likely “no,” even though there are probably a few kitchens out there that would meet that description.

The reality for most of us, even in beautiful new homes, is that our kitchens have become repositories – not just for all of our stuff but for so many of our social interactions. How do you, then, make your kitchen feel larger if it can’t physically increase in size? A new home or major remodel might be off the table, but there are still plenty of things you can do within your existing kitchen footprint to make it feel and live larger.

Maximize the storage you already have or consider where more might be added.

Right or wrong, we just have a lot of stuff. When looking at someone’s remodel — whether it’s just the kitchen or a while house — easily, the most common request is for more storage. Let’s ignore the “just get rid of your things” advice and make the choice to do the opposite today.

Pack More into Your Drawers

What you can do is maximize the storage you already do have. Drawers, in particular, are ripe for organizing. With custom organizers, like blocks for your knives, you can easily increase the storage capacity of your kitchen.

Minecraft House – Board & Vellum
Drawers Make a Difference

Deep drawers like these are a great way to store more stuff in easy-to-access ways. Bonus: since you can pull them out all the way, you’ll never lose something in a corner.

Carefully map out what you want or need to store and where those items best fit, then arrange a storage system that works for you. Recently, I was able to put three drawers of stuff into one drawer with some careful organization and divided bins. You can do it, too!

Look Outside Your Kitchen

If you’re still looking for space, explore any adjacent dining, living, or entry spaces to see what opportunities exist there.

Dining room at the Condo at the Market – Modern Condo – Board & Vellum
Consider Built-Ins

This small condo kitchen opens to the adjacent dining area and incorporates a built-in cabinet that relieves the storage burden in the kitchen, while also being a beautiful focal point.

New built-ins or a free-standing cabinet in an area just off the kitchen are great options for storing less frequently used things like dishes for entertaining or decorative items you only use for special occasions.

Connect your kitchen to a gathering space.

People love to hang out in a crowded kitchen. Anyone living with a small kitchen likely has stories of desperately trying to usher people out as they prepare dinner. It is a never-ending problem.

Take Down A Wall

You can solve this by opening your kitchen space to an adjacent dining or living area to give people a nearby spot to sit and talk to you. I’m talking close by, not 15 feet away.

A small, high-end kitchen: Petite Condo Kitchen, by Board & Vellum.
Tiny Kitchens Can Make Big Statements

This kitchen used to have a wall cutting it off from the living area. With the wall removed, a bar space can provide room for guests to gather without losing needed counter space in the small kitchen.

Fewer walls mean your kitchen will look bigger, plus the extra space gives you a much-needed break from graciously, or not-so-graciously, kicking people out of the way.

Remove some cabinets for a more open feel.

I know, I know! I just talked about how you cramming extra storage into your kitchen and now I’m telling you to rip out the storage you do have! Well, this post is about making your kitchen feel bigger, and upper cabinets can make a space feel closed in.

Try Open Storage

If you already have enough storage (and this might require a Marie Kondo-like approach to purging your kitchen), then pulling out the uppers, or even some of them, is going to make your kitchen feel much larger.

An adaptable kitchen island can be
No Uppers, No Problem

Upper cabinets aren’t a necessity. Here, the homeowners opted for open storage, and the space is filled with natural light provided by the windows that the extra wall space affords.

You don’t have to lose the storage entirely. Open storage provides space to display your favorite items or store things you want close at hand while keeping your space lighter and more open.

Consider Adding a Window

If possible, remove your upper cabinets and put in some windows with views out to your yard.

The Urban Sanctuary – Interior Design for a Condo – Board & Vellum
Let In The Light

It’s true: we can’t all have lofted-ceiling kitchens. But here, by forgoing some upper cabinets, the beauty and grandeur of the space can shine through, helped, of course, by the extra-large window.

Having a bright workspace with a view out is going to bring your eyes out to the yard and make even the smallest kitchen feel spacious.

Maximize your cabinets where you need them.

Okay, maybe you don’t want to lose your cabinet space. But are your current cabinets working as hard as they could be? Most stock cabinets don’t go all the way to the ceiling of your kitchen. They should.

Go Custom

If you have the budget for new cabinets, then go ahead and have new ones built that go right up to the ceiling.

A high-end, light-filled kitchen with blue base cabinets, white upper cabinets, tile backsplash, and a Wolf range.
Don't Lose Usable Space

Ceiling-high cabinets not only look great, they let you take advantage of space that might otherwise go unused. In a busy kitchen, that could be the difference between cramped and commodious.

Heck, you could even remove a few upper cabinets, make up for the lost storage with taller cabinets in another location, then add in that window to the outside to get the benefit of the increased visual connection to the yard. And you wouldn’t even lose any storage.

Bring in brightness with the right colors and lighting.

How much light you can draw into your kitchen (or any space, really) makes a huge difference in how spacious it looks and feels. Color and lighting both play a role.

Light Equals Bright

There are many ways to mix and match your cabinet materials and colors.

Craftsman Bungalow Restoration – Board & Vellum
You Can't Go Wrong With White

These cream-colored cabinets lighten up the darker wood tones in this kitchen. Their neutral color helps them blend into the walls for a more spacious-feeling kitchen.

A brighter and lighter color on the cabinets can help make the space feel larger in a way that darker cabinets just won’t. During the day, especially, light colors can help amplify natural light to make a small kitchen feel larger.

Take a Layered Approach

In the evening, consider a layered lighting approach to give visual depth to the space. We recommend three tiers of lighting: general illumination, task lighting, and accent lighting.

Green Lake Second Story Addition – Board & Vellum
Lights, On Lights, On Lights

How many layers of lights do you see? Though each set serves a special purpose, their cumulative effect keeps this kitchen feeling bright and active all day long.

The layered lighting approach will surprise you with how well it makes everything feel larger.

A kitchen has to live-large but doesn’t always get to be the size it needs. If you think through a space carefully, you can increase the sense of breathing room and make the room we all spend so much time in that much more comfortable.

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