Do you have a small kitchen? Are you looking for some ideas on how to make the most of it without sacrificing your needs? Lucky for you, we’ve got some great tips and tricks that will help make your small modern kitchen more functional, as well as provide inspiration for what’s possible.

The Most Commonly Remodeled Room is the Kitchen

According to the National Association of Home Builders, kitchens remain the most common remodel in homes, with bathrooms a close second. This could be due to many reasons: kitchens get outdated very quickly, and second, in older homes, kitchens were just built smaller because there was no need for it, and there was no standardization of cabinets or counter space.

Before 1960, many kitchens were not suited for entertaining. They were strictly for one person to do the cooking, so there were smaller appliances, less counter space, and fewer cabinets because there was often a pantry instead. In addition, women of the household were often homemakers and had all day to cook in the kitchen, so there was little need for large ovens or space to cook multiple things at once. In fact, the invention of the Hoosier cabinet was intended to make everything in the kitchen accessible within arms reach. It even included a built-in flour sifter.

As women entered the workforce, family dinners became more rushed and required more space to cook and include the whole family in the kitchen, center islands, and more cabinets and counters became more popular. Kitchen space was more important, and homes were growing in size as they modernized. Now the kitchen is one of the main focal points of your home.

New designs are more efficient and spacious than ever, with many of today’s kitchens having space for a table or chairs. This means that the kitchen is no longer just a functional room — it can also be an integral part of your family life. For example, everyone knows that when you have a party, the kitchen is where everybody stands. So ensuring even the smallest kitchens are both spacious and functional is essential to make them suit your ever-changing needs.

small modern kitchen

What is the Best Layout for a Small Kitchen?

You’ll hear a lot of different things. For example, some people will recommend you use all the wall space to add more storage; some say go counter-free and put everything on open shelving, so it’s easier for everyone to reach what they need. If you have a small galley kitchen, try putting the appliances on opposite ends of the room, so there’s no struggle trying to open the fridge door and use the oven simultaneously. Also, knocking down a wall and having your kitchen along one wall can do wonders for making it even more functional and easy to navigate.

The best layout will ultimately depend on your needs: how many people are in your household, how often you cook, and what type of cooking is typically done. For example, if you like to bake a lot or use heavy pots that need oven space, it might make sense to consider an island in your kitchen for prep work.

Suppose open shelving isn’t working for some reason (like maybe for the elderly or children living at home), then you could experiment with hanging pots and pans overhead to save space. There are also kitchen designers who specialize in small kitchens, so if you’re unsure what layout would work best for your needs, they might be able to help.

How to Modernize a Small Kitchen & Make it Seem Bigger

There are many ways to modernize an outdated kitchen, no matter the size. However, smaller kitchens can be completely transformed by making a few simple adjustments.

Light Wood Cabinets

Dark cabinets can quickly shrink a room, so installing lighter wood or white cabinets and painting the walls a lighter shade or even using a bright white paint can really open up the space. Then, removing the doors of the cabinets, or some of the cabinets, can give it a nice open look. Plus, it’s much easier to grab things out of the cabinets and take up less space trying to open the doors. If you don’t want to remove the doors, then try installing glass doors so you can still easily see what’s in the cabinet without opening it.

Stainless Steel Appliances

How To Design A (Usable) Small Modern Kitchen [Picture Guide] 1

If you have outdated appliances (especially dark black), try switching them out for new chrome or stainless steel. They can make a kitchen seem much larger and more modern, especially if they contrast with the backsplash or other design elements. It’s amazing how just updating appliances can bring your kitchen style to the next level.

Natural Light

Natural light can really brighten up a small space to the point of giving the illusion that it’s much bigger. Overhead lights shed so many shadows down into your space that it not only makes it hard to see when you cook but floods the space with bad lighting. If you can knock down an entire wall or put in a window in your tiny kitchen, you’d be amazed at the life natural light can bring to the space.

Subway Tile Backsplash

New black and white contemporary kitchen with subway tiles splashback

Subway tile is a major trend among modern kitchens. It gives texture without taking away from the space or requiring expertise to install. In addition, it’s super DIY-friendly and affordable. A white backsplash, specifically, can be a significant upgrade, plus it makes it super easy to clean up splatter or other kitchen messes. Simply wipe it clean!

Open Shelving

If your kitchen is small, you’d be surprised how different it can look if you remove your cabinets and replace them with open shelving. If you are into the modern aesthetic, you probably want to go for the Scandinavian-style de-cluttered look. Open shelving forces you to downsize your kitchen and place only enough cups, plates, and bowls you need to serve you and your family. If you can match dishes and glassware, it can act as both decor and functional storage.

New Light Fixtures

white scandinavian kitchen cabinets by puustelli

There’s nothing worse than an outdated ceiling light, but also nothing easier to replace! It’s relatively easy to swap out an old, ugly light fixture for a new one. Or maybe you bought a house that has unsightly track lighting that you want to replace. That might require a professional, but the difference in lighting will be huge.

One thing you can do to modernize your small kitchen on your own is installing task lighting underneath the cabinets. You can purchase 3M battery-powered strip lighting to stick under your cabinets to light your workspace while you chop or cook. Or, if you want, you can hardwire under-cabinet lighting for an even more modern take on task lighting.

Full Height Cabinets

If your kitchen is small, you’re going to want all the storage you can get. One way to get more storage is by installing full-height cabinets. Utilizing your horizontal storage space can mean more storage options without taking up more floor space. If you get yourself a stepping stool, you can easily store less-used items like small appliances up higher on the shelves without taking up valuable space in your lower cabinets.

New Countertops

brown modern scandinavian kitchen cabinets by puustelli

If you’re not ready to update your cabinets or swap out appliances, then new countertops can be a great way to modernize your kitchen on the cheap. There are many different materials and colors available these days that make it easier than ever to find what best fits the design of your space. We love quartz countertops, marble countertops, or even finished wood. This can also be your opportunity to add extra counter space and reconfigure your kitchen or dining room to include an island or extend the counter out for more cooking space.

Designing a small modern kitchen requires some thoughtful planning and creativity. But, if you stick to a neutral color palette, have white walls, open cabinets, and other modern design elements, you can give your small kitchen the facelift it deserves! The important thing is that it works for you and your home. At Puustelli, we love to use modern Scandinavian designs to transform small and big kitchen spaces to be more functional and spacious than ever. For more inspiration, check out our beautiful kitchen design showroom to see real modern kitchens in action.

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