Inspiration gallery: small kitchen renovation ideas

Living in a tiny Victorian cottage I am no stranger to smaller rooms but with the right design and planning, I have learned that small can be both beautiful and functional (with a few clever tricks). Whether you are about to take on a small kitchen renovation or a section of a bigger open-plan space into a compact cooking zone, your kitchen doesn’t need to feel cramped if you make the right choices.

I’ve put together my selection of compact kitchens in all different styles and I think you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve when undertaking a small kitchen renovation. So get ready for some BIG inspiration.

But before you gather your inspiration, if you’re about to take on your own project – there’s lots of helpful tips and advice, here.

A classic trick in the interior designer’s handbook when creating a scheme for a small space is to make noise in a certain aspect of the room to distract from its real footprint.

For instance, this kitchen by Neptune uses bold patterned tiles, creating a real statement.

Small kitchen renovation
Shown is the Suffolk kitchen painted in Fog, from £8000, Neptune. The tiles are from Bert & May.

In a smaller kitchen, getting the layout right is crucial. A U-shaped design is great as it maximises storage and ensures the available floor area is used to its full potential.

Marlborough kitchen in Graphite and Dust Grey, from £12,000, from Masterclass Kitchens.

The lighter or simpler the units the better so try light cabinetry with plenty of white touches to make your kitchen seem bigger. You can opt for handless cupboards to streamline the working space. Naked Doors can create kitchen fronts in bespoke sizes and colours, so you can achieve your dream scheme even with a limited budget.

Small kitchen renovation
A similar size and style to this design by 2LG x Naked Kitchens is priced from £2500.

The compact space below features elegant Shaker cabinetry with Carrara marble worktops. Despite being short on space, the U-shaped design incorporates a full-size Esse range cooker, which really creates a focal point. Floor-to-ceiling cabinetry conceals appliances while opposite the original sash window has been retained to allow light to flood in. 

Esse range cooker, Belfast sink, and fridge-freezer. The Real Shaker Kitchen by Devol starts from £12,000.

Uncommon Projects built right up to the ceiling to maximise the space in this compact kitchen. There is even a space for a desk and a place to drop the post and keys as you come in. Avoid fussy details and stick to simple flat-fronted doors.

Small kitchen renovation
Kitchens by Uncommon Projects start from £14,400.

A double galley can be a great way to maximise space, but make sure you give yourself enough free area to move around and open cupboards and drawers comfortably. Opt for open shelving instead of wall units to allow for plenty of storage without it feeling too enclosed.

The classic-contemporary Arbour kitchen by Harvey Jones, from £18,000, is shown here as a practical double galley – plenty of storage here.

If you want to go for bold colours consider leaving the walls clear to create some space in the room and opt for lighter shades alongside the darker ones to balance out the colour.

Small kitchen renovation
Stock 37 intelligent matt emulsion on walls, tiles are painted in Sunlight 135 intelligent ASP and intelligent eggshell, alongside Woad 251 intelligent satinwood on the units and a stool in Heat 24 intelligent satinwood. From £21 for 1 litre all Little Greene.

Don’t let a compact space stop you – even a small island can be very practical. Keep things simple and use the island as extra storage as well as preparation space. Don’t install any appliances on it as they will take up too much space on the worktop.

Slab design by 1909 in Dry Rose, complemented with the surrounding Graphite cabinetry, Life Kitchens.

An L-shaped compact kitchen can include a peninsula for seating, great for children or guests to perch on without encroaching on the kitchen space. For this project the wall cabinets were purposefully left out to create a lighter, less cramped feel.

Small kitchen renovation
Hob, Siemens; barstools, Cox & Cox; wall lights, Dowsing & Reynolds; sink,; tap, Perrin & Rowe; open shelving, Ikea. Photography: Jeremy Phillips. Project: Designs for Life by Cottage.

Cleverly tucked away but still oozing personality, this small kitchen makes the most of the natural light from the skylight and window. All appliances are hidden away in this full height larder.

Kitchen carcasses, Ikea; cabinet doors, for similar, try Hølte; paint, Nextel. Photography: Douglas Gibb

And last but definitely not least, my favourite in our look book in fact, this statement kitchen from Pluck. To increase the space and improve the flow of your rooms you could go for a glass sliding or pocket door.  Visual tricks can also help make a compact space seem bigger too. Install recessed kick plates which will make the cabinetry appear to be floating, making the floor area seem larger.

Small kitchen renovation
Worktop and cabinetry, Pluck Kitchens, sink and taps, from Blanco, Pendant light, for similar, try Upscale Industrial. Photography: Malcolm Menzies.

Featured image: Cabinetry, Naked Kitchens; Oven, Samsung; hob, Bosch; tiles, Topps Tiles. Photography: Malcolm Menzies

Article updated 17/09/21.

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