The Definitive Guide To Making Your Kitchen Look Bigger

07 Aug The Definitive Guide To Making Your Kitchen Look Bigger

9 ways to make your kitchen look even bigger

kitchen remodel ideas

how to make kitchen larger

The Larger Kitchen Table of Contents:

1. Who Puts A Bulls-eye In Their Kitchen?

2.  Clutter Free Counters Trick The Eyes

3. How Creative Lighting Opens Up Small Spaces.

4.  What Trick Do Fashion Magazines Know That Make Rooms Bigger?

5.  Is Your Kitchen Island Cramping Your Style?

6. Why The Best Cabinets Might Not Hide a Thing.

7. How Homeowners Are Cutting Cooking Time By 80% & Using Half The Space.

8. When Making A Kitchen Larger Doesn’t Actually Involve the Kitchen.

9. Tricks for selecting the right professional builder or home center.

As a luxury custom home builder, we have built, re-modeled and staged hundreds and hundreds of homes.  We make sure that the space is designed to its’ maximum for efficiency of space.  When we furnish a model, we make sure we design and accessorize the kitchen to be a showcase and appear large and inviting. Read on to discover how to make your space larger or understand what to look for when thinking about a new home or remodel.


Selling your home?  Thinking about why you can’t stand your kitchen? A spacious, well-lit, and streamlined kitchen is a welcoming sight that can be a dealmaker for people looking at a new home and can allow you to stay in your current home a little longer.  However, what if your kitchen is cramped?

Do you need contractors to knock down walls, tear out bulky appliances, and take space away from other rooms?  Maybe a kitchen remodel is right for you.  However, before you start showing your house to sell, or commit to a home remodel to update where you are going to stay, consider these tricks to make the most of the kitchen you have.

1. Who Puts A Bulls-eye In Their Kitchen?

focal points make kitchens largerYou don’t need to actually paint a bulls-eye in your kitchen (If you do, send it to us, we’d love to see it!) A strong focal element draws the eyes forward and creates the illusion of depth.  The size and style of the element will depend on the shape and layout of your kitchen, but in general choose focal details that are dark or with a geometric print.  Shapes like a square or rectangle are preferred over something irregular like a statue or a plant which may add a sense of clutter to your space.

You want to be sure that your focal element is the first thing that people see when they walk into your kitchen.  To help with this, be sure to choose a general color scheme in neutral and pale tones (more on this later) so that your darker focal point will really pop.

Once the eyes hit the focal point they’ll stop noticing anything beyond it, so choose a single strong element on the far wall opposite from the main entrance to the kitchen.  Pick something with a vibrant pattern or in contrasting colors.  Normally you want to keep your kitchen as light as possible, but with a focal piece it’s okay to pick something quite dark.

Some ideas for focal elements are a sink backsplash with the tiles laid out in a dark, geometric pattern, or a colorful painting that takes up at least ¼ of the wall.  Pick a very thick frame in either black or red to keep it from looking too busy.  Another option is to paint the whole back wall in a contrasting color. This is an easy trick that creates depth.  This effect can also look very nice if the wall has windows, but be careful not to choose drapes with a busy pattern that would overpower the wall color.

2.  Clutter Free Counters Trick The Eyes

declutter kitchen countersIf you have a small kitchen, your storage space is going to be at a premium and it can be tempting to see the counter tops as just another wide shelf.  However, nothing can make a kitchen look smaller than the sight of piles of mismatched pots and pans, stacks of cookbooks, and dust-covered appliances that are only used once a year (if at all!).  When a person looks at a room, they first scan the entire area, and things on the counter stop the eye.  The simple act of clearing off your island and counter tops and keeping them free of clutter will instantly lets the eyes move through the room and make it feel twice as big.

Start by going through your appliances and equipment.  The only appliances that should be on top of a counter are things that you use every single day.  Everything else should be divided into two groups:  occasional use and rarely used.  Occasional use items are used at least once a month, and these you can keep in kitchen cabinets so that they’re out of the way but still handy.  Maximize your storage by keeping small items, like a lemon juicer, in bigger items like the crockpot.  Rarely used items like that Thanksgiving roasting pan don’t need to be kept in the kitchen at all.  Instead, find a spot for these in a storage closet or in a box in the garage.

Next, think about places where you can hang items.  Adding hooks to a wall near the stove is not only convenient for keeping your pots and pans close at hand, but if they’re arranged right it can add to the style of the room.  Magnetic strips can also be used for metal utensils and knives.  These can be especially useful if you have pets or small children running around because you can place the strips high enough so that they can’t accidentally brush against them or knock them over.

A third idea for keeping your counters free are pull-out cutting boards.  These roll out from under your counter tops just like a shelf and can be tucked back in when you’re not using them.  Pick ones with removable plastic boards that can be taken out for easy cleaning and replacement.

3. How Creative Lighting Opens Up Small Spaces.

kitchen lighting ideasChoosing the right kind of lighting fixtures is one of the most important things you can do to maximize the appearance of a small kitchen.  If you look at any home design catalog, you’ll see that their rooms are always brilliantly lit and are full of reflective surfaces like chrome fixtures or glass cabinet windows.  These will give the illusion of more space and fill out the room to make it seem open and inviting.

Augment natural lighting from windows with simple, pale-colored drapes.  Geometric patterns in light blue and yellow add a fun, 60s mod sort of vibe to a kitchen.  If you’d prefer something a little more modern, consider getting drapes in an off-white or light gray shade with a band of a vivid hue like red at the bottom.  This adds a pop of color without overpowering a small space.

Kitchen lighting falls into two categories: overhead lights that fill the room, and eye-level lights that illuminate work areas and add ambiance.  For overhead, look for pendant lights that can hang above the islands.  Because they hang a little lower than a normal ceiling light, they’re easier to clean and change the bulbs.  Some pendant lights also have swappable lampshades so you can quickly change the whole look of the room for special occasions, for example, red and green for Christmas.

Lighting under counters and cabinets should be brighter than overhead lights so you can clearly see what you’re doing, and each area should have its own switch so you can turn them off when you don’t need them.  Look for designs that have a front shield to direct the light straight downward and not into people’s eyes.

4.  What Trick Do Fashion Magazines Know That Make Rooms Bigger?

light colors make kitchen largerTake a cue from fashion and design magazines: dark colors make things look smaller, light colors make them look bigger.  Fashion and design magazines understand depth and creating space for readers eyes through using light and dark colors. Their photography is specially set up to maximize space or interest by tricking the eye with perceived depth. You don’t want to go too overboard with pure white, however. While a floor-to-ceiling snow white kitchen can look pretty in a magazine, in real life it’s not only impractical but also very cold and institutional looking.  Instead, opt for soft neutral shades like cream, warm beige, or off-whites like ivory.

If your kitchen is extremely small, the best strategy is to paint the cabinets to match the wall color. This will make the walls seem farther apart and the whole space less crowded and more spacious.  Natural wood grain cabinets can work in kitchens that are slightly bigger as long as they are laid out in straight lines that don’t wrap around any corners.  Pick out counter tops that are in a light shade that’s complementary to the wall color and avoid checkerboard patterns which will make the room look smaller.

The right color of paint can also be used to set the mood.  Blues and grays are too cold for a kitchen so try and keep everything within a warm palette.  A good rule of thumb is not to use more than 3 shades in a small space: one main color, one complementary hue that’s within the same color family (ie. cream and tan), and one bright accent color.

5.  Is Your Kitchen Island Cramping Your Style?

kitchen island ideasIslands are a very popular piece of kitchen furniture because they increase counter space as well as offering 360 degree shelving and storage.  However, choosing an island that’s in the wrong shape or size can not only make the kitchen look smaller, it can also create uncomfortable traffic jams and block the flow of the room.

While most modern kitchens feature some type of island, finding the right size for an island is critical, especially for smaller spaces.  Look for ones that are as narrow as is practical so they don’t take up valuable floor space.  Standing “breakfast islands” are a popular choice and they eliminate the need for stools and chairs.  For this style, pick an island that comes up to waist height and is just wide enough to comfortably place two dinner plates on.

Islands also double as storage units, so choose one that has both open and closed shelves.  Open shelves are practical for storing quick-grab items like like cutlery, glasses, or napkins.  This way, someone can just take what they need quickly without having to squeeze by anyone working at a counter or on the stove.

If you don’t want to have hooks on the walls, island cabinets are good for storing pots and pans or other lightweight items.  Many of these have drawers that can be set up with a power outlet which you can use as a hidden charging station that keeps your electronics safely out of the way of any kitchen spills.

6. Why The Best Cabinets Might Not Hide a Thing.

kitchen cabinet ideasNow that you’ve picked out your counter tops, island, and color scheme, it’s time to think about what sorts of specialty storage you might need.  If you don’t cook often, then you’ll only need a few basic floor-standing or wall-mounted cabinets that just have standard shelves and drawers.  If you cook most meals at home and you have a lot of equipment, think about getting floor-to-ceiling cabinets and painting them to match the walls.  Similarly, bakers or specialty chefs will need more counter top space for their appliances, so you may want fewer cabinets and a larger that normal island.

A good alternative to cabinets painted to match the wall color are picking ones with glass front doors.  The glass will reflect the lighting in the room which will make it look bigger, and you’ll be able to see what’s inside of them.  You can also have small lights installed at the top of each shelf if you want to use them to display dinnerware or kitchen equipment.

Some cabinets have specialized pull out drawers.  These could be anything from a spice rack to a bookshelf or a wine rack.  Many cabinet sets also come with a matching unit that houses larger appliances like a dishwasher or a small refrigerator.  These can be great space-saving features that will perfectly match the rest of the decor in your kitchen.

7. How Homeowners Are Cutting Cooking Time By 80% & Using Half The Space.

kitchen appliance ideasCarefully think over the appliances and select ones that are only as big as you really need.  Unless you have a huge family, you may only need a small, under-the-counter refrigerator instead of a full-sized standard piece.  You can also buy a separate stand-alone freezer that you keep in another room to maximize space.

Many appliances are dual-purpose like a combination microwave and convection oven that can be installed under a cabinet or in a shelf to keep counter tops open.  Other examples are a combined refrigerator and range top or an all-in-one mixer with juicer, pasta maker, and food processor attachments.

Newer appliances are often smaller and more efficient at the same time.  Some of the new ovens can cut cooking time by 80% using combined technology and fit in areas that can create overall space somewhere else. By using traditional heating elements combined with other elements like microwaves, forced air, steam and reflectors, manufacturers have vastly improved on efficiency.  The reason we don’t have these in every home is that the technology is primarily used in higher end brands that are more expensive that the typical home would come with.

The best material for most appliances is stainless steel.  Not only is this the most durable and easy to clean, but it’s reflective and gives the kitchen a polished, clean, and modern look.  If you prefer a more vintage style, look for pieces that have a classic design but with stainless steel accents like door handles or display panels.

8. When Making A Kitchen Larger Doesn’t Actually Involve the Kitchen.

outdoor kitchen ideasThere are a lot of elements in a kitchen that can be easily moved into other areas of your house to maximize space.  Start by taking out the table and chairs and replacing them with a standing island.  Many house plans don’t have a formal dining area anymore, but you can easily adapt part of a living room into a casual dining room by bringing in a coffee table and low couches.

If you live in an area with a warm climate, a balcony or back patio can be used year-round for entertaining.  For colder climates you might want to consider investing in a sunroom and moving kitchen equipment like an electric grill or blenders for drinks into there.

Another option is to move key pieces of equipment out of the kitchen and into the areas where you use them.  If you work in your garage or outside a lot, why not have a small refrigerator handy in the foyer so you can get a cool drink without having to walk through the whole house?  If you always have coffee in the morning in your den, move the coffee machine onto a corner table and keep cups and utensils in a shelf under it.

Finally, you can rotate the equipment in your kitchen based on the season.  In summer you may not do as much baking, so you can store the cake pans and cookie sheets in a hall closet.  In winter you can swap them out for hot-weather items like an ice cream maker or a grill.

9. Tricks for selecting the right professional builder or home center.

By changing details like the paint schemes and storage spaces, even a tiny kitchen can feel larger and become a space that you’ll enjoy cooking in.  An experienced professional can work with you to creates and implement a redecorating plan. Your local custom builder or home centers can connect you with the right contractor to make your vision a reality.

If you are selling a house in order to move into one with a larger kitchen to begin with, you may be able to have the builder help you.  Many builders use design centers to select options for your new home.  Many of these centers can actually be incredible resources and if you bring in pictures of your old space they may be able to give you advice on “staging” you kitchen to sell.  The cost for just consulting may be free or quite inexpensive, and  they may even be able to do the work for you at a reasonable cost! If it means selling your home faster, it’s worth every penny.

If you go to a home center for a DIY fast fix option, just make sure they have a dedicated design center.  Large centers like Home Depot and Lowes typically have a design center that can provide you free consultation for your jobs.  However, their level of free assistance is often based on how much you are going to be spending with them, as is most professional design centers.

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