Your Small Kitchen Remodel: Plan for Efficiency and Storage

If you’re planning a small kitchen remodel there are some important considerations to think about so your resulting space provides the storage you need while functioning efficiently without the extra room of a large kitchen.  Don’t lament; big kitchen remodels are extremely expensive and the result may not be as user-friendly as a smaller kitchen.  Extra space doesn’t necessarily equal extra luxury or even function.

A small kitchen remodel can often be handled by the homeowner, so it’s important to plan carefully.  Things like standard size (or smaller) appliances and sinks instead of oversized “professional style” can increase cabinet room (and therefore storage areas), and additions like pullout shelving or a lazy susan can:

  • maximize space that’s often wasted in deep corners or on high shelves
  • increase efficiency by letting you store similar items together, solving the hunt for misplaced items when you’re ready to use them.

If you’re considering a major remodel (where you essentially start with a bare room), kitchen layout is an essential consideration for efficiency.  Where you place appliances and sinks will vary in a single walled kitchen versus a U-shaped or L-shaped space.  As one-wall kitchens are so small, there isn’t much play in layout; placement of appliances won’t matter much since everything is close together anyway.  However, in other layouts, efficiency will be affected.

In U-shaped kitchens, the “classic kitchen triangle” matters; the three points include the stove, refrigerator, and sink.  If you’re a big cook, these small kitchen designs allow you to move easily between points.  The closed end of the U allows you to put one point there, providing extra cabinet or storage space elsewhere.

In L-shaped kitchens you should also follow the triangle, and you’ll also enjoy more open space as you’re not crowded between two sides, although the distance between points may be further.  Here’s where pullout shelving may help in the deep corner cabinets.  For efficiency sake when you furnish the kitchen, use this space for items you don’t frequently use like the fondue pot or the ice cream makers.

L-shaped kitchens can also provide a place for small table, especially if a dining room isn’t available.  If possible, increase the size of the open area by stealing a bit from an adjoining room when remodeling.  Kitchens typically recover their remodeling costs when sold, so it won’t be a wasted effort.

For other shaped kitchens (like the galley or corridor) and in remodels where changing the room’s shape isn’t part of the budget, consider additional space-saving, storage-providing options.

Where possible, install taller kitchen cabinets.  Often, older kitchens have cabinets that are hung lower, whether left open above or with walls that further impede storage space.  Consider replacing old cabinets with extra tall cabinets which provide extra shelf space and take advantage of otherwise wasted space (other than a few decorations).

Where possible, build-in smaller appliances instead of setting them on the countertop.  Many microwaves today mount above the range and act as a range hood with fans and lighting, and providing extra efficiency when cooking.  When used frequently, you can also mount toaster ovens, can openers, televisions and coffee makers under the cabinets, keeping counters free.

Other small kitchen ideas for improving efficiency are:

  • Adjust cabinet shelving.  Look in your cabinets; how much space is wasted where shelving is too far apart and additional shelves could be added or your arrangements could better utilize space?
  • Add items like hooks or drying racks to under sink cabinet doors for storing wet towels, dish rags, and cleaning brushes or sponges.
  • Racks for wine glasses and other stemware can often be hung below upper shelves, allowing usage on both side of the shelf.
  • Place the dishwasher near the sink for easy loading of dirty dishes after meals.
  • Consider placing dishes in cabinets and silverware in drawers near the dishwasher for easy unloading.  You’ll save time and steps not walking to other cabinets, even in smaller kitchens.

With some simple planning, both small and large undertakings will make your small kitchen remodel a success.  Remember storage spaces as you plan cabinet types and choose large appliances, and efficiency as place them both and later stock them with your kitchen belongings.

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4 Responses to Your Small Kitchen Remodel: Plan for Efficiency and Storage

  1. Nice post….Storage space is often at a premium in a kitchen, and the remodeling project should consider what will make the kitchen work well.

  2. Dean says:

    Very informative and well written article. An adjustable pilaster sytem will accomadate mutiple pull out shelves as mentioned in your article and allows the shelves to be adjusted to needs or taste.

  3. When planning your kitchen for efficiency and storage, don’t forgo safety. Over the range microwaves have advantages, but the disadvantages can be dangerous.

    Reaching over a range that is active can cause loose clothing to catch fire. For shorter homeowners, reaching above shoulder height can create a situation where a container may tip over and cause severe burns. In a multi-cook family, the last place you want to be “dancing” is infront of a cooking element.

    An over-the-range microwave should be your last resort. Instead, look into incorporating your microwave either in a tall cabinet or in a base cabinet beneath the counter. My favorite place is at the end of an island where snackers can easily access the appliance without interrupting the chef.

  4. Kareem Decoursey says:

    I like your blog. I do remodeling for myself and many others for a living . This blog it great for learning and reading about remodeling. I located your site on Keep up the great postings!

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