Compact Kitchen Design: What Is The Best Layout For Your Space?

Although small apartments and houses have a cozy charm, one thing that many homeowners find is a lack of kitchen space. However, with the right combination of clever storage and an efficient layout, you can optimize your compact kitchen space.

There are numerous benefits to a compact kitchen. When space is small, it means everything is within your reach. And with less space to work with, you will save money by being selective about what you need.

But to make a small kitchen work, you need to have a layout that reflects your lifestyle needs. There are endless possibilities, from adding a kitchen hutch to increasing counter space, for finding a layout you will love to cook in.

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White modern kitchen pantry
White modern kitchen pantry

Streamlined One-Wall Design

By using a one-wall layout, you open up your space around the kitchen. This method keeps the refrigerator, sink, stove, oven, and cabinets all in a row, leaving you with room to put more seating options for guests. This type of kitchen works well with open-plan homes.

Modern minimalistic kitchen design
Modern minimalistic kitchen design

You can create a designated kitchen and dining space with the strategic use of area rugs.

The challenge with a one-wall design is that you may have a limited countertop area for food preparation, which means you need to get creative with your storage to avoid a cluttered kitchen. You can overcome this issue and add extra counter space by investing in a counter-height dining table and chairs, allowing the set to perform double-duty as a food-prep counter and space to eat.

You can increase storage by installing ceiling-height cabinets to make the most of this typically wasted space. Store frequently used items within easy reach in the lower cabinets, and keep a folding step ladder or stool to reach the higher cabinets.

Efficient Galley Kitchen

Galley kitchens make the most efficient use of space in your small home. The layout uses two parallel lines to organize the space, with the appliances and sinks typically grouped on one side, while the cabinets, drawers, and counter space are located on the other side.

Modern galley kitchen design
Modern galley kitchen design

There are several benefits to this layout for a small kitchen. It is often used by designers of small kitchens as it creates the classic work triangle. The work triangle developed from the need to access the three main appliances in your kitchen frequently: the stove, fridge, and sink.

For couples who enjoy cooking and spending time in the kitchen, this kitchen layout can seem tight as it does not allow for more than one person to cook at once.

If you want the convenience of this layout with added space, try an open galley design. It still offers the same space-saving technique of creating two parallel lines of counter space but uses a half-counter rather than a full-length countertop. The open feature lets you breathe and interact with people in your home while you cook.

Portable and Multipurpose Layout

The coveted kitchen island feature is usually on everyone's design wishlist, but it does not fit well into compact kitchen layouts as a standalone piece. However, a portable kitchen island can provide added food-prep space and be conveniently moved out of the way when not in use to make the kitchen feel bigger.

Wooden portable kitchen island
Wooden portable kitchen island

If your space is extra tiny, your island counter can double as a table. In lieu of dining chairs, choose a bold set of bar stools with low padded backs to accommodate guests.

If you can't fit a portable island, but you still need a place to prepare meals, a removable butcher's block cover for your stovetop acts as a countertop and chopping board. And an in-sink drainer helps you divide the sink area into washing and drying sections to eliminate the clutter of dishes drying on your counter.


When it comes to a compact kitchen design, storage is one of the most important considerations. The right combination of storage features, from cabinets to drawers to shelves, can optimize your use of space and keep your kitchen uncluttered and easy to move around.

For an open galley kitchen or one-wall layouts, a kitchen hutch placed on the opposite side can provide additional storage for plates in the glass-fronted cupboards and small appliances in the bottom cabinets. A hutch also offers additional counter space, which can be used for creating a chic coffee or cocktail bar.

White classic kitchen pantry
White classic kitchen pantry

You can also hang your cooking utensils and pots and pans above the stoveusing a wall-mounted rod with butcher S hooks. Not only will they be easy to reach, but this visual will also give you the air of a professional chef.

Compact Appliances

To maximize your use of space in the kitchen, consider the dimensions and capacity of your appliances. Downsizing larger items like a fridge or dishwasher can save space, which can be dedicated to drawers or cabinets for storage.

A slimline counter-depth fridge is often taller than a standard fridge model providing the same interior volume for food with a smaller footprint. Drawer style dishwashers and mini dishwashers typically have dimensions no larger than 18" wide, compared with the 24" of traditional units, providing you with an additional 6" of space to work with.

Modern wooden kitchen design
Modern wooden kitchen design

To avoid cluttering your counters with small appliances, opt for mounted models. An under-cabinet coffee maker can be installed under any sturdy cabinet and suspends the carafe or cup. You can keep your coffee, sugar, creamer, and mugs in the cabinet above for a functional coffee station.

Walls and Colors

While small kitchens are primarily designed for functionality, there are plenty of ways to enhance your kitchen style through playful wallpaper or expressive tiles. Coordinate the wall color to the rest of your home, but avoid picking dark colors as this makes the space appear smaller.

Modern farmhouse kitchen design
Modern farmhouse kitchen design

The color theme you choose can extend to your appliances. Make your aesthetic more cohesive by sticking to one color for countertop appliances, or choose stainless steel or copper palette for a more rustic feel.

Picking the right color is not only visually pleasing but can also affect your mood and, in some cases, stimulate your appetite. While the space may be small, don't shy away from adding color to make it a vibrant focal point of your place.


Creating the perfect cooking space relies heavily on small details that bring the whole area together. Consider installing an LED light strip beneath the kitchen cabinets for extra brightness. This is an excellent option if illumination from your overhead light is lacking.

If space allows, installing a row of pendant lamps over your counter space creates a chic and relaxed atmosphere. Conversely, if the area you have to work in is narrow, opt for linear suspension lighting that offers enough light to cover a small space.

Grey cupbords modern kitchen design
Grey cupbords modern kitchen design

Mirrors and reflective surfaces amplify your kitchen's brightness by reflecting existing light and add a sense of depth to give the illusion of a bigger space. Place one next to the sink or use a large one as a cabinet cover.


Whether you are renovating or moving into a new place, a compact kitchen can be functional and fashionable. Give your place a style and flair that makes you feel at home and excited to cook with the right layout and combination of storage and counter space.

Lily is a modern designer with great appreciation for sleek architecture, a love for art in its many forms, and a passion for sharing her experience with people. If you’re looking for advice on how to modernize your old-fashioned place or make your new restaurant a visual blast, she’s definitely the one to ask.