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Islands are Forever: Kitchen Design for Small Spaces

No one ever says “my kitchen is too big,” right? Of all the rooms in the house, the kitchen’s the one that always seems short on room… and the most challenging and costly to rearrange. No matter how you happen to use it, the kitchen tends to be one of the busiest rooms in the house. A good kitchen doesn’t need to be huge, it just needs to maximize its functional space. In many cases, some simple, inexpensive steps will go a long way toward making your kitchen more livable. Adding an island, or improving the usefulness of one that’s already there, is a great place to start.

Visualize the Space

Generally, kitchens are square or rectangular.  Tight, narrow galley-style kitchens tend to be the most difficult to optimize. But even then, there’s often space to work with. Built-in cabinets and counters take up a lot of territory, and removing them can free up a lot of real estate. If you’re hoping to add or improve an island, keep that in mind as you consider the area in which you have to work with.

Surface Area

Square kitchens with countertops around the perimeter often have a lot of unused space in the center – perfect for adding a kitchen island that can dramatically increase counter surface and working area. Even narrower kitchens usually have space for an island if you consider removing built-in cabinets. The flat surface of an island is a lot more useful on a day-to-day basis, so trading cabinet storage for island surface is usually worth it.

Adding Efficiency

Don’t limit your thinking to an island countertop! Whether you’re adding one or improving what’s already there, contemplate how to make it into more functional space. Adding a fold-down table and a rack of folding chairs can make even a tiny kitchen into a perfect dining area – once you’re done eating, just fold away the furniture.  You may also want to consider building in appliances such as a microwave or wine cooler to make to most of your space. 

Your Kitchen Table

Incorporating a kitchen table attached to the island has become a popular trend. Consider a table that is part of the island that is positioned a bit lower than the island so it will work with the height of a chair. This takes up less space than a separate kitchen table and creates a more seamless design.