For many, a huge kitchen is the stuff daydreams are made of. If only I had an 8-foot kitchen island with a second sink, you sigh dreamily. Food would definitely taste better if you made it in a spacious kitchen with a 10-foot ceiling and sun streaming in enormous windows, right?

But physically increasing your kitchen’s square footage isn’t always an option. Thankfully, as a kitchen and bath designer, I have learned a few tricks along the way to enlarge the look and feel of your kitchen without knocking out any walls.

I can’t guarantee you won’t bump elbows with your significant other anymore, but keep reading and I’ll see what I can do to give you a little more breathing room.


1. Lighten up.

As I wrote back in January in “9 Ways to Make a Small Room Look Bigger,” dark colors almost always make rooms feel smaller. Switch up that maroon or navy for a creamy white, soft warm gray or light gray-blue.  I always recommend using at least a satin finish because it is easier to clean and reflects plenty of light.


mosaik portland kitchen remodel

2. Try different tile.

Put your backsplash to work reflecting light, not just water. Light-colored tile, metallics, or glass tiles can almost serve as mini-mirrors and help increase the light in the room.


3. Change your kitchen cabinets.

Deep mahogany is classy for sure, but painting your cabinets off-white can trick the eye into thinking your kitchen is roomier (or match cabinet color with wall paint color so the eye glides smoothly over them). Glass doors instead of wood will open up the space as well. Or remove the cabinet doors altogether for a more open look.


4. Maximize your lighting.

If a chandelier or pendant light is too low or large, it can obscure views out the window or of your fellow diners. Make sure your kitchen light is appropriately sized for your kitchen. And if you have dark drapes, by all means, switch them out for lighter, more sheer ones or skip them altogether. (In that case, window film can provide privacy without sacrificing natural light.) Undercabinet lighting can brighten up preparation spaces as well.


5. Get food out of sight.

Storage can be at a premium in tiny kitchens, but a little creativity can maximize your space and get all those spices, oils, and produce off of your counter. Changing cabinet doors to pull-out drawers can give you access to dramatically more space and help you tuck more tupperware out of the way.

Or store your sundries on a thin rolling shelf that hides between your fridge and sink. Magnetized spice holders can get your spices off the counter and onto the fridge, clearing up room for cooking.


6. Go for slim furniture.

Look for open table legs, translucent materials, and armless chairs. They reveal more of your space as you scan the room.

7. Be strategic with your floor.

High-contrast colors will make your kitchen look smaller, so ditch the bright kitchen rug for one that’s a closer shade to your wood or tile. Try not to break up the visual flow of the floor; long lines and large tiles are better than small grids. (This is true in bathrooms, too — check out my post on making small bathrooms look bigger.)


8. Think upwards.

Vertical space is your secret weapon. Get things off the floors and counters with high shelving, a magnetic knife strip instead of a block on the counter, and pegboards for pots and pans.

9. Downsize your appliances.

Swapping a family-size coffeemaker for a modest french press is one way to save big on space. If your appliances are old and bulky, take the opportunity to upgrade to a sleek, small, European model instead. Or embrace the liberating feeling that comes with decluttering and get rid of an unused kitchen gadget altogether.


10. Make it movable.

Get a cutting board you can place over your sink during meal prep, or create a pull-out cutting board. Consider a rolling cart for your mixing bowls and cookie sheets that can be whisked out of the way.


One last bonus tip: Make your kitchen your own. Little photos and pretty drawer pulls can personalize your cooking space and make you happy to be there, even if it isn’t as palatial as you’d like.

How do you make your kitchen seem bigger? What’d I miss? Let me know in the comments.