No renovation necessary. 

By Katie Holdefehr
October 07, 2019

When you have a tiny kitchen, it can feel like the only solution is an expensive (and time-consuming) kitchen remodel. And while renovating is the only real way to gain square footage in your space, there are some genius design tricks that can at least make it look like the room doubled in size. These design features trick the eye, making even a cramped kitchen feel a little airier. Call on elements like mirror and open shelving to give your galley kitchen open floor plan vibes. This is the first step to turning the kitchen you have into your dream kitchen. 

RELATED: 8 Ways to Create Extra Counter Space in a Tiny Kitchen

The Magic of Mirrors 

Have you ever been in a restaurant or bar and went to walk into the "next room," only to realize that it was actually a mirror? A full wall of mirror (especially when combined with low light) creates a trompe l'oeil, tricking the eye into thinking there is a space beyond, when it is actually the reflection of the current room. To create the same effect in your home, consider installing an entire wall of mirror. If your home decor is less modern and more vintage-inspired, opt for an antique-style mirror with water spots and patina. 

Not ready to invest in a wall-to-wall mirror? You can get a similar effect on a smaller scale by strategically placing a mirror along the wall behind your kitchen sink. It will provide a sense of continuing space, so you won't have to stare at a blank wall as you wash dishes. 

Opt for Open Shelving

If your small kitchen is filled with both upper and lower cabinets, they may be closing off the space. To add a sense of openness to the entire room, consider replacing the upper cabinets with open shelving. And luckily, open shelving works with almost any style kitchen. For a modern home, choose sleek black shelves, and for a farmhouse kitchen, select reclaimed wood shelves. 

Want an even easier fix? Simply remove the fronts from the upper cabinets or replace them with new paned glass fronts. Cabinet fronts can get pricey, but the total project cost will still be much more affordable than a full remodel. 

Hide the Clutter 

Sure, we all know that tidying up and clearing off the counter will make a kitchen look bigger. But also consider what you choose to display versus hide away. In a small space, it's essential to make your cabinets and drawers work harder so the room looks clutter-free. Instead of a freestanding trash can, consider a smaller one that can fit into the cabinet under the sink. Rather than leave small appliances like a toaster and blender out on the counter, designate a spot in a cabinet or on your kitchen island for it to live when not in use. This way, the surfaces in your kitchen will appear clean, minimal, and surprisingly spacious. 

Light the Way 

Light has the power to open up the room, so consider multiple sources of light in this space. The most obvious: Make sure the windows aren't being blocked by heavy window treatments, and keep the curtains or blinds pulled open during the day. Then, supplement the natural light with at least two other sources. Overhead lights are essential, then consider adding within-cabinet lights if you have cabinets with glass fronts, or under-cabinet lights to illuminate the prep space below. Not only will these light sources add a cozy glow to the room, but they'll allow you to dim the overhead lighting for a less harsh effect. 

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