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Practical design tips for a small kitchen

When you have a small kitchen, especially one that is open onto a dining room or dining nook, it's important to make sure it is well planned and neatly organised.

A small kitchen that is short on storage and not planned well will soon end up in chaos, as is the case with this 80's kitchen. Lack of storage space, or storage that is unorganised, can lead to clutter taking over; from appliances that have nowhere to go to household clutter that gets left on the countertop.

If you plan on making some changes to your kitchen, we offer a few tips to take into consideration when putting everything down on paper.


Increasing the height of wall-mounted cabinets makes use of valuable space that you already have without increasing the footprint of a kitchen.  In the existing kitchen shown here, the original cupboards left untouched wall space above them, so it made sense to take advantage of this. The homeowners now use the extra storage to stow away seasonal appliances and other specialty kitchenware.


In order not to intrude on already limited floor space, making use of alcoves allows you to build in extra storage cabinets without reducing floor space. Take a look at your kitchen - and open plan dining area - to see how extra storage can be incorporated into the floor plan.

In the kitchen shown here, to better incorporate a new pantry into the room custom floor-to-ceiling cabinetry was installed with matching cabinet doors to seamlessly integrate this into the space. The clever addition looks like a large unit that was always part of the kitchen.


You easily increase storage capacity by varying the depth of wall and floor cabinets. For example; rather than install 300mm deep cabinets around the refrigerator, 600mm deep cabinets provide far more storage. To add even more function, cabinets directly above the prep area are recessed (300mm deep) to allow essential countertop.


Where you have the ability to extend into a dining area, and if space allows, installing floor cabinets in this area provide even more storage. Choose countertops that complement those already in a kitchen to reinforce the idea that it’s an integrated space. In this kitchen, the shallow countertop along one wall acts as a dining server thanks to the built-in cupboards below.


A dining nook is one of the most well-loved spots in a home; it’s where the family gets together to have breakfast before the day ahead. Keeping this in mind, the kitchen designer didn’t want to be constrained by choosing only compact furniture but instead used large cushioned dining chairs that offer comfort and good looks. A circular dining table balances the look and is easy to navigate around.


The original U-shaped layout cut off the kitchen and impeded traffic flow. The new layout boasts a modern free-standing island equipped with an undermount sink, which allows easy movement between the kitchen and dining area and for the homeowners to engage guests with ease while cooking.


The existing flooring -  laminate in the kitchen and carpet in the dining area - was swapped out for laminate flooring that’s carried throughout the rest of the open plan area. The new cabinetry doors mimic the look of the dining table, while cabinet hardware mirrors the black framework of the chandelier. These repeated decorative details ultimately tie the room together.


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