Small kitchens are a reality of life in many homes, especially apartments or older houses. If expanding the kitchen isn't an option, that doesn't mean you're doomed to spend every meal time feeling that the walls are closing in. There are things you can do with the colors, appliances and layout to make even the smallest galley kitchen feel cozy rather than suffocating.
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Widen the Windows, Lose the Doors
Unlike the door in a bedroom or bathoom or closet, the door to the kitchen is optional. Opt out. Widening the doorway and taking out the door, will make the kitchen feel less like a sealed-off box and more like an open nook connected to the rest of the house. Larger, taller windows will give even a very small kitchen feel bigger; go easy on the window treatments to let in as much light as possible. If you can raise the ceiling, do.
Colors and Decorating Materials
Use light-colored decorating materials to make the room feel less closed-in. Avoid large ceramic tiles on the floor or walls--they'll only accentuate the smallness of the room. An off-white or yellow motif, accented with small mosaic tiles on the floor and/or wall, will go a long way toward visually pushing back those walls.
Appliances and Furniture
Think small and retractable when designing the furniture and buying the appliances. Find a refrigerator that's thin but tall. Instead of a free-standing oven taking up valuable floor space, have a wall oven installed, and have the stovetop set into the countertop. If possible, have your cabinets set, or partly set, into the wall. Instead of a table and chairs, design a countertop so that a few stools can slide under it.