How to Make Your Tiny Kitchen Seem Bigger Than it Is

A tiny kitchen in NYC is often one of two things: charming and functional, or claustrophobic and hoarder-ish. In order to ensure that your kitchen is the former, there are several things you can do to increase its sense of spaciousness.

It’s the bane of many New York apartment dwellers: the tiny kitchen. How are you supposed to make your slow-roasted herbed turkey breast in that postage-stamp-size space? And yet somehow, we manage. Our friends from Atlanta or Houston with massive kitchens watch in amazement as we wrangle five-course meals out of five-foot-wide galleys. We’re New Yorkers, after all, and if we can make spicy quinoa here, we can make it anywhere. You can absolutely experience the joy of cooking in a tiny kitchen if you eliminate some of the obstacles that make it feel too tight.

Paint It White

There’s a reason that so many people paint their kitchens white, and it’s not because they’re unimaginative. People love white kitchens because they make the rooms feel more spacious and open. This is especially important for tiny NYC kitchens, which often seem like they were shoehorned into apartments as an afterthought. Kitchens with boring brown wooden cabinets feel dated and closed in. Splash a coat of white paint on them, and you’ll swear you’re standing in a larger space.

Add Reflective Surfaces

Reflective surfaces can create the illusion that a space is larger than it actually is. A mirrored backsplash can be a cool way to instantly double the size of your kitchen, but if that’s a little too Austin Powers for you, consider hanging a framed mirror on one of your kitchen walls. This is a great trick if the kitchen lacks a window. You can also replace your cabinet fronts with glass doors, which give you an uninterrupted line of sight while simultaneously reflecting light, bouncing it around the room and making your kitchen seem even bigger.

Keep the Details Simple

Kitchen counters loaded down with tons of knickknacks and small appliances can make an already tight space feel very claustrophobic. Keep your counters as clear of “stuff” as possible. If you rarely use certain appliances, put them away instead of allowing them to suck up valuable real estate in your tiny kitchen. Instead, showcase your culinary style by displaying just one or two attractive items — the ones that say “That’s right, I’m a real cook!” or “Hey, I don’t cook, but I love a good cup of coffee!”

Choose Smart Storage Solutions

With stores like Ikea offering hundreds of attractive and affordable storage options, you’re hard-pressed to find excuses for why a NYC kitchen should feel cluttered and overstuffed. Hop on the Ikea shuttle in downtown Brooklyn, and in minutes, you can be browsing the aisles looking for hanging storage units that affix directly to walls or fit neatly inside your existing cabinets. Pegboards are perfect ways to hang pots and cutlery. Paint them white or use bold, bright colors to make them pop.

Image Source: Flickr/Charles & Hudson

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