Clever design ideas to make the most of tiny kitchen spaces

In today’s property market, space is a commodity in short supply.

From shoebox-sized studio flats in Victorian conversions to “snug”, purpose-built semis on suburban estates, people are increasingly finding themselves cooking in mixed-use spaces — ones which sometimes double as dining, living, or even bedrooms.

This island kitchen segues into the living space yet is still apart. Picture: iStock
This island kitchen segues into the living space yet is still apart. Picture: iStock

But however minimal your living space is, several tried and tested tricks can help you make the most out of your kitchen area, without compromising the rest of your home….

Use furniture to divide spaces

Large items of furniture can provide effective buffer zones between areas that are for eating and areas that are for cooking.

Sofas have long been a go-to room divider — providing a clear, functional barrier that doesn’t block the eye line. Defining the kitchen area by adding a dining table ensures you can cook and socialise at the same time.

A kitchen cum dining and living room. Picture: Alamy/PA
A kitchen cum dining and living room. Picture: Alamy/PA

Put the kitchen in the corner

Corners are often neglected — partly because right angles can be hard to use — but kitchens are tailor-made to sit snugly in otherwise dead space.

Arrange kitchen cupboards and surfaces around a corner to create a functional, out-of-the-way area where you can cook unimpeded, and leave the floor free for tables, TVs and chairs.

Mixed kitchen/living space. Picture: Alamy/PA
Mixed kitchen/living space. Picture: Alamy/PA

Have a clear centrepiece

Mixed-use spaces can easily start to feel chaotic and lacking in boundaries, but a single, eye-catching centrepiece will help lend the room a sense of focus and order.

A dining room table, a multi-piece settee, or a widescreen television are all easy to build a room around if granted a central location, drawing focus away from crowded kitchen surfaces or that large, humming fridge.

An integrated kitchen/living room. Picture: Alamy/PA
An integrated kitchen/living room. Picture: Alamy/PA

Embrace minimalism

Small spaces can easily feel cluttered, and kitchens are magnets for rarely used pieces of bric-a-brac and outmoded appliances.

Do you really have space for that almost-empty spice rack, never-used pile of cookbooks, or the avocado slicer you received as a Secret Santa gift back in 2016? In your kitchen-cum-living-room-cum-whatever else you’re using it for, the answer is probably no.

Use a light colour palette

It’s the oldest rule in the interior designer’s handbook — lighter shades make a room feel airy, bright and breezy, while darker colours will make it look smaller and more claustrophobic. Go for white, beige or pale greys to create the illusion of space.

Consider a kitchen island

They’re not cheap, but kitchen islands can divide a space beautifully, doubling as a dining table (if you don’t have one). They can also provide invaluable extra storage space beneath the worktop. Plus, in today’s modern, minimalist, Ikea-influenced world, kitchen islands are always on-trend.

Use light to demarcate space It’s not just furniture that can make different parts of a space feel different — accent lighting is a must for mixed-use rooms. Desk lamps and hanging lights can illuminate specific parts of a room, drawing focus or ensuring they feel separate and contrasting.

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