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10 Brilliant Ways to Use Wasted Space in the… Kitchen

Create an ultra-efficient cookspace with these clever, inch-pinching ideas

Houzz UK Contributor. Freelance journalist and interiors obsessive, renovating a… More

A small kitchen has to run smoothly in order to be liveable (and likeable). Each component must be perfectly planned, from the layout to the appliances, and all must work cohesively to overcome the limitations of cooking in a confined space. This means that designing a small kitchen can often take longer than planning a room three times the size, because the requirements are so exact.

Follow these tips – some of which are illustrated in more generously sized kitchens, but which can be adapted to small spots – and learn how to squeeze every inch out of your compact cook space.

More in this series: Brilliant Ways to use Wasted Space in the… Hallway I …Bedroom I …Living Room I …Landing

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Do drawers not doors
Switch all your cupboards for drawers to gain maximum usability of the available area. Drawers allow easy access to every item, unlike cupboards, which require rummaging and can result in a cluttered cook space as things pile up while you find time to make space on their bulging shelves. Rows of drawers also look chic and organised (even if their contents are not!).

In need of more small kitchen ideas? Browse the brilliant space-saving designs on Houzz

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Fit a bijou breakfast bar
If you’ve no room for a kitchen table, consider sacrificing a couple of cabinets to squeeze in a small breakfast bar. This freestanding worktop ledge is a neat way of ensuring seated eating without adding bulk to the slight space.

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Prioritise perfect positioning
If your room necessitates a U-shaped layout, consider whether extra-slim cupboards or drawers will allow optimum positioning of your key appliances.

Here, the narrow pantry pullout and drawers on either side of the range cooker mean that the coveted kitchen appliance ‘triangle’ can still be maintained.

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Rethink your sink
An under-mount sink saves on worktop space and allows for a flat draining area that can be used as a second surface. A single inset sink is another option for titchy kitchens – compact Belfast styles work well if you don’t need a drying rack or can mount one on a wall.

Not sure what sink to go for? Here’s how to find the perfect one for you

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Master savvy shelving
Be smart with shelving by looking beyond the obvious options. This modular unit is built into the wall and can be accessed from either side, meaning that plenty of light passes through. This simple yet quirky system feels playful but inconspicuous.

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Skip heavy handles
Cupboard door hardware might seem like an inconsequential space-saver, but the visual effect of streamlined cabinets is important, as is the lack of handles to catch your clothes on in tight spaces.

Look for designs with inset troughs to grip or choose slimline pulls that follow the line of your doors.

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Pick pint-sized appliances
Don’t assume that big is better when it comes to kitchen appliances. It’s possible to find smart styles designed for small spaces – and you don’t have to sacrifice precious storage to shoehorn them in. For example, this electric Aga is just 60cm wide, meaning the cosy cottage kitchen you’ve been hankering after is (quite literally) within reach.

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Squeeze in under-seat storage
A built-in bench seat makes small kitchen sense because it can hug the corner of the room. The recess beneath is begging to be used for oversized pans or dry goods, so be sure to utilise this secret storage.

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Make a tall order
Why create a dust trap gap above your cabinets when you can gain valuable extra inches by extending them up to the ceiling instead? This sort of exact cabinet sizing is often only possible with bespoke joinery, but ask your kitchen provider about options and you may be lucky with an appropriate off-the-shelf size.

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Work your walls
When surface space is at a premium, it pays to make good use of your walls. Install shelves, rails or a pegboard to take utensils off your worktops and onto the walls. You could free up whole cupboards by hooking everything and anything that has a handle.

What are your small kitchen challenges? Share your troubles – and any tips – in the Comments below.
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