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7 Ways to Visually Expand a Small Kitchen

August 9, 2023

Can’t knock down a wall? Try these optical illusion ideas to visually expand your space.

Not every home is blessed with a big, open kitchen space. If you find yourself with a compact kitchen, don't worry, as there are various design ideas and techniques that can work wonders in tricking the eye into perceiving more space, so you won't feel claustrophobic when cooking in your kitchen.

Kitchen hacks
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In this article, we’ll look at how to visually enlarge your kitchen so that it looks more open, inviting, and functional. Let's get started!

1. Flood the space with light

When redesigning your kitchen, access to natural light is essential because a small space is prone to being dark and confined. Ideally, your kitchen should be located near the front or back of the house, with windows and door openings, so you’ll have a bright and well-ventilated space to cook and prepare meals.

However, if it’s located towards the centre of a property or only has small windows, you should consider different ways to introduce more light. Installing a skylight*, as seen in this narrow kitchen, can help bring in a lot of natural light during the day.

Melawati, Kuala Lumpur by Nusa Indah Bina
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View this project by Nusa Indah Bina

Artificial lighting can also help make a small kitchen look spacious. Add under-cabinet lighting to illuminate work surfaces, and use bright overhead lights to eliminate shadows. You can also install task lighting and ambient lights in your kitchen cabinets to illuminate dark spots and highlight each corner, creating the impression of a bigger space.

LBS Skylake Residence, Selangor by True Design Octoplus Sdn Bhd
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View this project by True Design Octoplus Sdn Bhd

*This will only work if the area/room was previously covered by a roof.

2. Incorporate open shelving

Open shelving can create an open feel in a kitchen. In fact, it is a great place to showcase some of your fancy dinnerware, cookbooks, and vases, among other things.

Tropicana Aman Arahsia Residences, Selangor by Newman Idesign & Renovation Sdn. Bhd.
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If you don’t feel confident about keeping your kitchen neat and organised with open shelving, limit yourself to the upper section of your wall and keep your mismatched dishes and tools stowed away in the lower cabinets.

The Vyne, Cheras by Groundwork Interior Design
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View this project by Groundwork Interior Design

3. Think vertically

Having a vertical approach is a great trick for small kitchens. By going vertical, you keep your countertops clutter-free and add a stylish touch to the overall design. One way to do it is by installing a tiered rack to store spices or condiments. You can also consider using hooks to hang pots, pans, utensils, and even glasses. This will free up space in your cupboards and drawers, and it is an excellent way to air dry them once they have been washed.

Trinity Lemanja, Kuala Lumpur by Anwill Design Sdn Bhd
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View this project by Anwill Design Sdn Bhd

You can also consider attaching magnetic strips to the walls to store tools like knives or scissors, as demonstrated in the kitchen below. Not only does it provide a visually uncluttered look, but your cooking utensils will always be easily accessible when preparing and slicing ingredients such as vegetables, fruits, and meat!

Eco Majestic, Semenyih by Pocket Square
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View this project by Pocket Square

4. Go for light tones as your overall colour palette

To create the impression of a bigger space, introduce light colour palettes such as neutrals and pastels, as these hues lend a sense of openness and airiness. You can add pops of colour via the backsplash or kitchen accessories.

The Nine, Petaling Jaya by Vuemont Signature Interior Design
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Take a cue from this kitchen, where the white cabinet blends smoothly with the walls and ceiling, blurring the boundaries between these areas, inviting your eye to travel up, essentially making the ceiling seem higher. The glossy cabinet fronts and countertops also have a reflective effect that bounces light back into the room, resulting in a brighter space.

5. Incorporate integrated appliances

Where possible, opt for integrated or built-in appliances rather than freestanding ones, as seen in this modern kitchen. It helps to maintain a streamlined and seamless appearance and free up your counter space. This, in turn, will give your kitchen a feeling of spaciousness.

Nordic Haven, Selangor by Doubble Interior Associates
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View this project by Doubble Interior Associates

6. Think big for tiles

It may be counterintuitive, but incorporating big tiles in a small space can do wonders for creating the illusion of a bigger space. This is because bigger tiles reduce the number of grout lines and, therefore, visual clutter. So ditch small penny tiles or kit kat tiles for your backsplash, walls, and floors and go for bigger square tiles with contrasting grout. This greyscale kitchen is a great example. It features large hexagon-shaped tiles that trick the eyes into thinking there is more space.

Ashino - Gravit8, Selangor by Perfect Match Interior Design
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View this project by Perfect Match Interior Design

TIP: If you are using subway tiles, lay them horizontally, as this can help create the illusion of a wider space.

7. Opt for glass

If you have a closed kitchen, installing glass doors can help create a sense of continuity between the kitchen and other areas of the house, making the kitchen look and feel more spacious. A glass door also allows light to pass through, giving an open and airy feel to the space. You can opt for clear or frosted glass, depending on your privacy preferences. Both options can amplify the light and spaciousness, while frosted glass provides enhanced privacy.

13A09 Rumbia Residence, Kuala Lumpur by Free Flow Design
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Hire the right experts to renovate your kitchen

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