Best Features of Today's Compact Kitchens

Anna Diordieva/flickrHow big is small? The typical American kitchen is pretty roomy these days, edging up toward 200 square feet. And 10 feet by 10 feet is considered to be on the modest side. But a new breed of kitchen has begun appearing on the horizon lately … the compact version. A compact kitchen might be called smaller than small, with minuscule dimensions that may run as low as 5 or 6 square feet, less than the average powder room! This scale of cooking space can be surprisingly attractive and functional, though, when it includes the right features.

Enjoy the View

At the risk of stating the obvious, let's point out that virtually all compact kitchens have this in common -- they are located in small homes. Tiny houses, condos, mobile homes, and converted garages, for example, feature diminutive kitchens, usually as part of an open floor plan. What this means is that you'll want to keep your counter nice and clean, free of unwashed dishes and other debris. But as well as that, your kitchen will work best when it complements the decor in the adjoining rooms. This puts the spotlight on highly visible features like cabinets, wall color, and countertops -- especially the latter, which tend to include a breakfast bar overlapping the living room.

However, if you'd prefer to avoid the bother of matching the kitchen to your other rooms, or you are extraordinarily pressed for floor space, try a contemporary kitchen that is hidden away inside handsome piece of furniture such as a sideboard or hutch. There is even a revolving setup, complete with the classic triangle of stove, sink, and refrigerator -- when you're not using it, just swivel the whole galley behind its own sliding doors.

Don't Forget Function

You can make use of a wealth of handy devices to maximize function within your minimal space. For instance, open shelving is popular in today's kitchen designs. Stretch it to new heights with an uber functional floor-to-ceiling shelf unit, to take advantage of every inch of wall space. Install dedicated racks to organize everything from wine bottles and glasses to your supply of cookware.

Features that do double duty are your best friends in a compact kitchen. Consider sinks or burners that will also serve as a prep area for meat and vegetables when covered with a purpose built cutting board. Or why not a drip rack tucked into a cupboard? It would be great for drying non-dishwashable items such as your fine crystal -- without cluttering the counter -- or for vertical plate storage.

Another great option is pullout surfaces -- just slide them from their hiding place and you've got a handy chopping board or even a formal dining table to pair with stackable chairs.

You've heard of kitchen islands before. But have you ever encountered an island that was the complete kitchen? Such a creature does exist, combining a double sink, cooktop, and fairly generous workspace, all in one sleek package. If you plump for a more conventional type of island, make sure that it comes complete with plenty of storage down below.

Create an Illusion of Space

Even the most functional and tidy compact kitchen can end up feeling cramped if you're not careful. And since the kitchen is a room where you spend a great deal of your at-home time, comfort is a priority. Artfully placed mirrors are a favorite trick of interior decorators for visually expanding spaces. Translate this idea to the kitchen by means of reflective surfaces, such as stainless steel appliances or cabinets with a glossy finish.

Install the same type of flooring in your compact kitchen as in the adjacent room, for a more open, flowing feeling. Light colors also help fool the eye into perceiving a room as larger. White is perfect for this but do be sure to personalize it with small touches of bolder color, used sparingly so they don't overwhelm.

Laura Firszt writes for

Get Free Quotes

Looking for a Pro? Call us at (866) 441-6648

Top Cities Covered by our Remodeling Contractors

Get Free Quotes
  • Service Needed
  • Zip Code
Get quotes from qualified local contractors