60 Small Kitchen Ideas to Do More With Less in 2024


Every item on this page was chosen by an ELLE Decor editor. We may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.

a kitchen with a red lightpinterest
Tim Lenz

Skirt your Sink

outdoor kitchen with cast iron skillets hanging on rustic wood wall, sink and counter with produce on top and cabinets below, set dining table with bright striped cloth and flowers, wood chairs with patterned seat cushions
Roger Davies

This small kitchen can be found in ELLE DECOR A-List designers Eric Hughes and Nathan Turner’s ranch-inspired home in Ojai, California, but there’s plenty of lesson’s to be learned here for indoor kitchens too. In lieu of a stainless steel faucet, for instance, they installed a rustic brass version. Instead of cupboards, they’ve hung their pots and pans on a rail. But our favorite detail is the charming skirt that conceals under-sink plumbing and other sundries. Simply ditch your hinges and doors, and pop on a cute curtain of your own.


Swap Your Cabinets for Shelves

a kitchen with a shelf full of dishes and a picture frame
Richard Powers

As much as we may love the way kitchen cabinets can elevate a cooking space, they can also take up a lot of visual real estate, especially if you’re dealing with a small room. We love how designer Timothy Brown ditched heavy cupboards in favor of industrial stainless-steel shelving in his New York apartment. Not only does it provide a space for clip-on lights to illuminate chopping (or in this case, floral arranging!) it also allows him to flaunt his collection of vases and display small framed artworks.


Don’t Forget About Your Doors

studiodb manhattan apartment
Matthew Williams

This kitchen is as modern as it gets. But the designers at StudioDB wanted to add a fashionable edge too. In fact, this small New York kitchen was inspired by the color palette of—wait for it—Prada stores. But nothing says “galley kitchen” like the pair of portholes in the pink pocket door. It conveniently can hide pre dinner-party chaos or simply serve as a style statement on its own. Ahoy matey!

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Hang a Cool Pendant

a kitchen with a red light
Tim Lenz

At first blush, this kitchen designed by ELLE DECOR A-List firm Pappas Miron might look like your standard-issue white kitchen. But it’s the pendant light, as pretty and enticing as a peppermint, that takes it to the next level. If you have ceiling space to spare, install one that will similarly steal the scene.


Bring in a Plant

elle decor  best small kitchen ideas
Maureen M. Evans

If you’re sick of the all-white kitchen but still want the lightness and space-creating magic the look affords, take a page from designer Mark Grattan’s book: In his Mexico City apartment he specified all-white cabinets and tiles but refreshed the look with pops of gold and terra-cotta in the travertine countertops, golden rug, and earthy plant stand. And, if your space and light levels allow, why not include a tree?


Paint it All Black

a door opens to a kitchen with light stone flooring, black cabinets above and below sink, dark gray stone countertop, three plates and a fruit bowl on counter
Francesco Dolfo

The black kitchen is the sexy antithesis to the ubiquitous all-white one. And here, in his Milan apartment, hospitality designer Eric Egan brought all the drama. Not only are the countertops made from an unusually-textured Porphyry stone, but the back wall is entirely mirrored, making these pint-sized space feel positively cavernous. As for inky cabinets? They’re from Ikea!

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All-Day Diner

a kitchen with a stove and stools
David Land

When the architecture firm Method Design and interior designer Nina Barneih-Blair teamed up on the design of this 490-square-foot Manhattan apartment, they needed to make the most out of every square inch. The solution? A kitchen island that serves multiple purposes over the course of the day—from ad hoc office to dinner party venue. An all-white palette of glossy cabinets and surfaces helps flaunt the flat’s greatest asset: natural light.


Inky Black Backsplash

eric allart elle decor
Simon Upton

When you’re working with a 16th-century townhouse, like French designer Eric Allart did, you have to embrace the period quirks. This kitchen came complete with terra-cotta tiles. Rather than rip them out, Allart kept them in place and designed a quirky kitchen in unexpected hues to complement them. Here, an inky tile backsplash refracts sunlight, and a Pepto-pink shade on the walls and ceilings works to move the eye upward.


Zippy-Colored Cabinets

gary mcbournie house tour pics
Annie Schlechter

This space, in a Beverly Hills house designed by Gary McBournie, might be a mere butler’s pantry, but it offers plenty of inspiration for small kitchens. If it’s within your budget, opt for cabinets that offer a bit of Hollywood Regency glamour, like these ones here. If not, paint your existing ones in a vacation-ready hue like a bright key lime. The sunburst light fixture reminds us that it’s always happy hour somewhere!

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Towering Cabinets and White Paint

nate berkus associate upper east side
Kelly Marshall

The client of this Manhattan apartment doesn’t use her small galley-style kitchen that often, but that didn’t keep designer Lauren Buxbaum Gordon from making it a showpiece. Her signature move? To extend the cabinetry all the way up to the soaring period ceilings. Light countertops and a glossy white paint job let sunshine into the room, but it’s the gleaming gold hardware and accents that really make this small kitchen a winner.


Eclectic and Collected

in the kitchen are bookshelves on either side of a hot pink antique pie safe with shelves and art objects on top, a victorian carving above, and a goat sculpture sits beneath it
Kirk Davis Swinehart

Sometimes it’s best to embrace the chaos. And we can’t think of a better example than this jubilant kitchen nook belonging to William Cullum, the senior designer at Jayne Design Studio, and his partner Jeffery Rhodes. A hot-pink Victorian-era pie safe-houses antique serveware, while a goat sculpture (formerly a display fixture at Saks Fifth Avenue) cheekily guards the fridge (camouflaged in whimsical artwork) against midnight snack marauders. In this space anything truly goes, as long as you do you.


Bold Flooring

a kitchen with turquoise tiled floor and a wood table with yellow chairs and a banquette with striped fabric, rattan pendant, counter with sink and shelves above and wood cabinets below, steps go to a doorway out to terrace
Matthieu Salvaing

One of the best design sleights of hand? Distraction. So if your cabinets or counters are ugly as sin, create visual interest with your floors. While we don’t have a single complaint about this breezy Ibiza kitchen designed by Studio Muñoz (take a look at that terrace!), the sea-blue tiled floors are a simple yet effective style statement. Even if a renovation might not be in the cards for you, a colorful kitchen rug will do the trick.

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Cream Dream

husband wife san remo apartment
Chris Mottalini

This apartment, designed by New York firm Husband Wife, employs Buxbaum Gordon’s towering kitchen cabinet rule. But rather than resort to the usual all-white, the designers clad the walls in a swirling marble and coated the cabinets in the dreamiest shade of glossy cream paint. It’s the perfect combo of classic and contemporary.


Statement Hood

townhouse transformation
Brian W. Ferry

We love how this kitchen, in a family-friendly Brooklyn apartment for the cofounders of Civilian, packs in plenty of storage with whimsical details. The custom island, topped with an eye-catching piece of marble, doubles as a repository to stash cookbooks and dinnerware, while the cherry-red hood (also custom) adds a fun postmodern pop.


Pair Smart Storage with a Fresh Hue

suzie de rohan willner house
Rachael Smith

This Victorian farmhouse in the Oxfordshire, England, digs of Toast CEO Suzie de Rohan Willner may be on the small side, but it sings with country charm. Bright green lower cabinets help the eye to zip around the space, while open shelving allows for smart storage and display of chic knickknacks.

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Splashy Hues

revamp interior design danielle fennoy brooklyn apartment
David Land

This Brooklyn apartment is blessed with super-tall ceilings and tons of natural light. Designer Danielle Fennoy of Revamp Interior Design amped up the airiness in the combined kitchen and dining area with vibrant jolts of jewel-toned colors, including with this emerald green backsplash (which replaced the original, developer-installed white subway tile) and retro-chic Knoll dining chairs reupholstered in scarlet, “nightclub ready” Ultraleather.


Tiny Dining

in the kitchen a 19th century architect s table and 1950s school chairs the range is by viking and the metal cabinets are original
Pieter Estersohn

A small area didn’t stop Nate Berkus from incorporating a diminutive table and chairs (a vintage architect’s desk and school chairs) into his former Chicago kitchen. The metal cabinets were original to the 1929 apartment and pack in just the right amount of industrial-chic storage.


Shipshape Charm

a galley kitchen has cabinets topped with a white marble counter, sink with a glass pendant above, open shelves, an open dutch door, bead board cabinets, stove and oven with tools hanging above, green tiled backsplash
Stephen Kent Johnson

You’d never believe it, but this Provincetown, Massachusetts, cottage started life out as a humble fishing shack. Designer David Cafiero embraced the nautical theme throughout the house, including in this pint-size galley kitchen, which was modeled after a ship’s cooking space.

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Jewel Box Kitchen

cochineal jane street apartment
Joshua McHugh

Like most busy New Yorkers, the resident of this Manhattan apartment doesn’t have time to cook often, but that doesn’t mean the kitchen plays second fiddle to the rest of the home. Instead Sarah Mendel and Risa Emen of Cochineal Design converted the space into a functional showpiece of its own, with bold marble and cabinets lacquered in Farrow & Ball’s sultry Preference Red. Bonus: It’s the perfect nook for displaying the client’s collection of ceramics.


Mini Island

nicholas obeid house tour
Tim Lenz

Just because you have a miniature cooking space doesn’t mean you need to forgo areas to prep and dine. The trick is to think small, as with this diminutive kitchen island in an apartment designed by Nicholas Obeid. With vintage stools tucked beneath and a pair of Allied Maker pendants hung above, this vignette has all the impact of its sprawling suburban cousins.

Headshot of Anna Fixsen

Anna Fixsen, Deputy Digital Editor at ELLE DECOR, focuses on how to share the best of the design world through in-depth reportage and online storytelling. Prior to joining the staff, she has held positions at Architectural Digest, Metropolis, and Architectural Record magazines. elledecor.com 


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