Small Kitchen Design

Story by: Claudia Casas              Interiors by: Sarah Barnard

Small kitchens have a bad reputation for being cramped and undesirable. By improving your kitchen’s layout you can maximize its performance and visual appeal. You can further enhance the function of your small kitchen by making smart design decisions when selecting appliances, surface materials and architectural details.

Combining your appliances will optimize the total function of your kitchen when working with limited space. Take into consideration the Work Triangle of the refrigerator, sink, and stove. Make sure there are no obstructions such as islands, and separate the household traffic from intersecting the triangle. Use your backsplash as storage with a stainless rod to hang kitchen utensils. Use appliances such as over range microwaves with built in ventilation to save space. Reducing the amount of required appliances help your kitchen look less cramped.  

Surface features along with architectural details add character and depth to your small space. When using the color white whether it be on cabinetry or walls, it will reflect light giving the illusion of a larger space. Incorporating earth tones and/or low contrast color schemes on cabinets, backsplash and flooring gives a textured look for depth in the design. Large windows if permitted give natural light to make the space feel larger. A tip when choosing textures, is always keep in mind their aesthetic purpose. Consider using reflective materials as in stainless steel to visually expand the space.

Small kitchens can rise above their bad reputation of cramped and cluttered when giving consideration to a few key elements. Optimizing the functionality to maximize your space will improve the layout as well as give it a starting point to work from. Choosing the correct appliances to incorporate in the Work Triangle for your kitchen will help the layout take shape. Small kitchens can be impeccably designed making you almost forget the desire for a larger kitchen.  


Working out of her Los Angeles based studio, Barnard works on interior design projects big and small, from sprawling corporate headquarters to cozy beach front cottages. With a contemporary approach that employs traditional vocabulary, she defines her range of style as “innovative yet time-honored.”

Sarah is intrigued by clients who have unusual requests and lives for a challenge. She has yet to meet a client she doesn't like. Sarah loves designing for anyone with pets! She adores people who are avid collectors of anything they love. Sarah is often retained by clients who have never worked with an interior designer because they thought designers weren’t for them (until now). She is known for delivering, on time, all the time. Sarah is incredibly down to earth, and people love her for her frankness. Sarah and her staff will go above and beyond for a client: build a custom sunroom for the kitties, organize and alphabetize boxes in the garage, take the kids out shopping for their own bathroom tiles…

Sarah Barnard Design undertakes residential interior design projects, commercial spaces and even single rooms. She can assist you with space planning, color counseling, kitchen and bath remodeling, historic preservation, and all aspects of green design and healthy living: organic, non-toxic, sustainable and fair trade materials, energy and resource conservation, air and water purification, natural furnishings and fabrics and much more!



Claudia Casas has recently graduated from California State University Northridge (CSUN) with a Bachelors of Science in Interior Design. Claudia currently works in Real Estate, while gaining experience in the design world. She has a wide interest in all aspects of design especially single family residential. Some of her interests include baseball, the outdoors, and spending time with family.


References/ Resources


Small Kitchens by Jeffrey Holloway in Residential Design & Build Volume 77, Issue 5, 2012


ASID Design Research Database