Small Kitchen Decorating Ideas
DIY Home Staging Tips
for a faster, more profitable home sale

Small kitchen interior design picturesOpen legged stools extend sight lines. Baskets add storage above upper cabinets.

These small kitchen decorating ideas will help your tiny space show better on the real estate market when it's time to sell your house. 

Many buyers base their home buying decision on the condition of the kitchen, so having a fantastic one is a bonus. Unfortunately, many of us lack that spacious kitchen that will blow home buyers away.

A small kitchen is definitely a disadvantage when trying to compete in the market place. Because tiny kitchens can look cramped and uncomfortable, many buyers will walk away no matter how great the rest of the house may be.

Luckily, there are plenty of small kitchen decorating ideas that can help visually expand the space, create storage solutions, and make your kitchen more inviting to buyers.

Successful paint colors for small kitchen designs

Color is one of the keys to successful decorating— it can work magic by visually expanding or shrinking space and raising or lowering ceilings.

Having a basic knowledge of color theory will guide you to make better color choices.

Most people respond positively to light neutral colors, although you will often find powder and dining rooms painted in dark colors-- this is to make them appear cozy and intimate. But, since dark colors don't appeal to everyone, this isn't the best choice when selling your home.

Your goal is to make your home appeal to the largest number of home buyers possible. 

Small kitchen interior design picturesPale colors and lots of natural light can visually expand a small space
  • Light paint colors reflect and multiply light, appearing to push walls back. Cool pale hues are receding colors that help create a feeling of spaciousness.
  • Dark paint colors absorb and deflect light making small spaces feel closed in.
  • Cool paint colors appear to retreat, while warm colors seem to advance. 
  • Successful room designs will have a combination of cool and warm colors in the design palette, but one or the other should dominate.  
  • Warm, pale paint colors are great for kitchens. Accent warm wall colors by painting the trim white for a fresh, contemporary look.
  • Nothing updates a room faster than a new wall color. Many people put off painting because they're afraid of making a color mistake. So what! A can of paint is the cheapest and easiest way to instantly update your home decor.
    Always try paint samples on walls before painting an entire room. Neutral color undertones are often hard to see until they're up on a wall. Check out color samples under natural and artificial lighting, as colors will change under different lighting.
  • Kitchen cabinets painted the same light color as the walls will appear to blend into the walls, creating a greater feeling of spaciousness.
  • Dark cabinets can make a kitchen feel smaller. 
  • To create a feeling of maximum space, use the same light color palette on the walls, floors, cabinets, window treatments and trim work. 
  • Employ a light hand when adding pops of color, using no more than two or three colors in a tiny space.

Small kitchen decorating ideas for pattern and texture

Small kitchen interior design picturesPatterned window treatments add interest to this small kitchen

Introducing pattern and texture will bring life and movement to a small kitchen.

Texture adds interest when light hits the uneven surfaces, bringing varying degrees of lights and darks of the same color. But don't overwhelm a small kitchen with too much pattern.

Use pattern and texture in window treatments, accessories, chair cushions, flooring, area rugs, or lighting fixtures.

Vertical stripes on the walls or backsplash can elongate or heighten a small room.  

White color schemes in a small kitchen

Swathing an entire kitchen in white will create a uninterrupted space without breaks of color contrast to stop the eye.

This home design tactic tricks you into thinking a space is larger than it is. Abrupt shifts from dark to light will trip the eye. 

Punctuate an all white space with spots of color using kitchen accessories, artwork, fresh cut flowers, or live greens.

One of the best small kitchen decorating ideas is employing a monochromatic, or low-contrast color scheme. Monochromatic and monotone color schemes are the most successful color palette for small room designs. This style will create harmony, visual cohesion, and a sense of relaxation.

This style combines varying shades, tints, tones and textures of one color. Any color can be used, but for home staging purposes, neutrals, like white, beige, tan, or gray work best.

Small Kitchen with glass cabinetsGlass-faced cabinets add depth because you can see all the way to the back

Replace upper cabinet doors with glass

Swapping out upper kitchen cabinet doors with glass will add depth to your kitchen.

Your eye will be pulled into the cabinets and to the back, making your kitchen appear larger by extending sight lines.

Avoid using dark colored or opaque glass and be sure to keep the interiors nicely staged.

Open shelving in a small kitchen

Some small kitchen decorating ideas may include sacrificing a few upper cabinets and installing open shelving in their place.

Open shelving reduces visual weight and adds extra depth by allowing your eye to travel all the way to the wall.

Floating shelves are the most effective style for home staging, because they take up less visual space than those with heavy corbels or ugly brackets.

A great home staging design tip is to decorate shelves with objects the same color as the wall. 

Small kitchen with open shelvingOpen shelving adds visual space in a small kitchen.

When accessorizing open shelves, allow plenty of space around objects. This creates breathing room, which translates to that open, airy feeling.

Focus on staging shelves with a few standout accessories, rather then a collection of small objects, which can look cluttered.

Follow the advice of HGTV interior designer, Sabrina Soto. "Never use an accessory smaller than the size of a grapefruit."

Small kitchen decorating ideas for lighting

Natural light

Kitchen with lots of natural lightLarge windows and lots of natural light can make a small kitchen feel open and airy
  • Natural light is always the preferred light source for home staging, if you can wing it. Natural light flooding a room creates a feeling of space. Open the drapes or remove them and pack for your next home.
  • For a small, dark kitchen, consider installing a large window. Extending sight lines to the outdoors will instantly make a tiny kitchen feel bigger.
  • Or, install a skylight or solar tube to bring natural light in from above.
  • Hang a mirror opposite a window or where it will reflect a light fixture to scatter and bounce light around the kitchen.

Lighting fixtures

A kitchen with insufficient lighting is a depressing place to be. Who wants to cook in the dark?

Pendent lighting small kitchen decorating ideasSee-through lighting fixtures will extend sight lines in a small space

Dark corners and shadowy recesses along the countertops will strain your eyes and make your kitchen seem smaller. A kitchen should have a good mix of natural, task, and ambient lighting.

  • Consider adding under-cabinet lighting to flood the countertops with light. Under-cabinet lighting will improve the look, function, and safety of your kitchen.
  • Install pendent or track lighting with clear glass shades to extend sight lines.
  • House hunters love the ambience that recessed lighting provides. Recessed lighting is the answer for low ceilings, because fixtures are flush with the ceiling.

Small kitchen decorating ideas for furniture

  • Use fewer pieces of kitchen furniture instead of many small ones to make a tiny space feel less crowded.
Small kitchen interior design picturesSelect furnishings with open legs that show the floor below
  • Select furniture with a small footprint to reveal as much floor space as possible.
  • The farther the eye can see into a room, the larger it will seem. Keep traffic areas clear of furniture.
  • Select low profile furniture for adjoining rooms to keep sight lines open. For instance, in a kitchen/living room combo, use a sofa with a low back or an armless low-backed chair. In the kitchen, use bar stools without backs.
  • Avoid cumbersome furniture with a large pedestal or heavy ornamental carvings. Instead, select furniture with open framework or features that allow you to see the floors and walls beyond. 
  • If you have room for a small mobile island, select one with an open framework that allows you to see through to the other side. Buyers love islands, even mobile ones!
  • For eat-in kitchens, consider a dining table with a glass top and open metal legs.
  • Remove all the leaves from a dining table and place no more than four chairs around it. See staging the dining room.
  • For island seating, choose backless bar stools that tuck neatly under the counter ledge.

Kitchen renovation - Steal some space or remove a door

Remove or open up a section of a wall separating the kitchen from an adjoining room. It won't increase the size of the kitchen, but will bring in more light and extend sight lines.

Simply removing a door can make a small space feel roomier. Widening a door frame will increase the sense of space. Or, replace a regular door with a pocket door. 

Floors and ceilings in a small kitchen

Kitchen with striped runnerThis striped runner appears to widen this tight kitchen. Photo by Houzz.com

Avoid scattering small rugs around a tiny kitchen. It'll look cluttered and choppy. 

Create a long path for the eye to glide along without interruption by placing a long striped runner on the floor. Horizontal stipes can "visually" widen or lengthen a room. Remember the warning about wearing horizontal stripes? That works for floors too!

Light colored flooring will open up a small kitchen. Dark floors seem to shrink the size of a room.

To avoid abrupt color changes, link adjacent spaces with the same kind of flooring, or at least try to match the colors if floors are made of different materials.

Use vertical space in a small kitchen

Drawing the eye vertically can make a room appear taller than it really is. If you have a low ceiling in your small kitchen, there are a few tricks you can employ to fool the eye.

  • Paint a low ceiling white or another pale color to "visually" raise the height.

  • Kitchen cabinets that go all the way to the ceiling will create the effect of "visually" raising the ceiling, and as a bonus, provide more storage space!
Taking kitchen cabinets all the way to the ceiling gives the feeling of more space.
  • A less expensive option is to add accent molding to the tops of the cabinets to direct the eye upward. 
  • If upper cabinets don’t extend to the ceiling, a FEW well placed accessories, like large decorative plates, baskets, or framed prints along the tops of the cabinets can add perceived ceiling height. See staging the kitchen.
  • Use objects with elongated patterns or shapes that direct the eye upward.

The range hood in a small kitchen

Range hoods can be bulky, ugly, and take up a lot of visual space. If you're planning on replacing your range hood, choose a streamlined or see-through model that takes up very little space.

Or, do away with the need for a range hood by installing a cook top with built-in downdraft system. 

Eliminate clutter in a small kitchen

Cluttered kitchen counterClutter on kitchen counters shows buyers that you don't have enough storage!

Of all the small kitchen decorating ideas, removing clutter is number one! If you don't do anything else, do this.

Removing everything from the countertops can instantly make your kitchen look larger. If you have viewers coming over, remove ALL but your prettiest appliance from the counter. That's right... only one.

In super tiny kitchens, remove ALL appliances from countertops. Keep one cabinet empty to stash appliances inside when home buyers are expected.

Kitchen clutter often extends to windowsills and refrigerator tops. Get rid of it all.

Use reflective surfaces in a small kitchen

Kitchen with reflective backsplashThe reflective backsplash adds luminosity to this small kitchen

Reflective surfaces, like glass tile backsplash, stainless steel, sleek cabinets and shiny hardwood floors will illuminate your kitchen by amplifying natural and artificial light.

A mirrored backsplash may seem obvious, but they're actually very “taste specific” and require constant cleaning. Instead, put up a light colored tile backsplash that'll reflect light.

Fixtures and appliances in a small kitchen

Small kitchenSmall appliances fit nicely and look good in this small kitchen.

This is the 2nd most important tip of small kitchen decorating ideas! Kitchen appliances should ALWAYS MATCH when you're selling your home. 

Gain a few inches of countertop by installing a 24” cooktop instead of a standard 30-36” one.

No room for a standard-sized fridge? An under-counter model might be the solution.

Make sure that the fridge fits flush with the kitchen cabinets. Refrigerators that jut into a room just look clunky.

Microwaves can be built into cabinetry or hung underneath. Please don't leave a microwave sitting on the counter--it screams, "No room!" and takes up precious counter space.

Small kitchen decorating ideas for accessorizing

Kitchen with white ceilingClear accessories or objects matching the wall color will take up less visual space

If adding window treatments to a small kitchen, keep them the same color as the walls to avoid contrast in the space, or simply go without.

Avoid complicated details, like ruffles, swags, and bows. Use valances or shades, or blinds—aim for a clean contemporary look with maximum natural light coming in.

When accessorizing kitchen countertops, keep it simple and sparse. Avoid complicated vignettes with too many objects.


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