1. Consider shallow cabinets. Here’s some outside-the-box thinking: Not all of your lower cabinets must be the standard 24-inch depth. Most cabinet lines (even stock cabinets from big box stores) also come in a 12- or 15-inch depth usually used for upper cabinets.
Using slimmer lower cabinets for one area has its advantages. It opens a bit more floor space, which can make a big difference in a tight kitchen. It also reduces your storage slightly, but often the backs of deep cabinets are hard to reach anyway, so the shallower cabinets can be just right for everyday items.
2. Reduce your hardware. It’s a no-brainer that eliminating counter clutter is important for keeping a kitchen looking open and breezy, but you can take this a step further by removing the hardware.
Using cabinet doors with touch-activated latches or integrated reach-in pulls reinforces the clean lines of your new kitchen, which subtly helps it appear bigger. It also gives you fewer little items to bump into or get caught on your clothing, so the space will feel easier to move in too.
3. Rethink the double sink. Clients often request a double sink — sometimes before anything else. Large double sinks have their uses, but if you’re willing to compromise and choose a single sink (or even a one-and-a-half sink with a slim second bowl), it can open up better storage options and more unbroken counter space.
This applies especially to stock cabinet lines, which include a limited number of size options.
If your sink is centered on the window, without a ton of room on either side, this can create a “dead zone” next to it that can’t accommodate anything. Using a smaller cabinet for the sink frees up room on either side, which can open up new options for adjacent cabinets.
For example, switching from a 36-inch sink cabinet (for a double sink) to a 24-inch cabinet (for a single sink) frees up 6 inches on both sides. This can turn 6 inches of adjacent space into 12 inches, which is enough for a usable cabinet.
If you don’t think you’ll use that second sink bowl frequently, it’s worth exploring what else that space could be used for.
4. Choose a compact dishwasher. Most standard dishwashers come in a 24-inch width, but compact or “condo-sized” dishwashers in an 18-inch width are growing in popularity.
Saving that 6 inches can give you a bigger cabinet elsewhere. Naturally, a smaller washer also fills up faster, which means you can run a full load more often instead of waiting a day between washes or running the machine while only half full. For smaller households this can be a perfect option.
If you don’t cook often, or frequently shop for fresh produce, try slimming down your fridge to 30 inches or even 28 inches and leaving more room open for other essentials.
Panel-ready appliances (usually fridges and dishwashers) are designed to be able to receive a door front of your choosing so they can blend into the look of your kitchen cabinets. The resulting look is more fluid, which creates an overall larger, airier appearance. It’s usually not an inexpensive upgrade, but it definitely creates a look of sophisticated luxury.
Using a mirror for the backsplash opens up the sightlines, making the room seem much bigger, especially from close up. For a smart, moodier effect, use a tinted glass so the reflection is more subtle.
A few open shelves on one wall will perfectly hold daily-use tableware, storage jars and bins, and cookbooks, and give the room a much more open feel. It can also give a beautiful window a little more space to breathe so the whole room feels less stuffed.
Use this cabinet to display attractive drinkware, or use frosted glass so you only get a faint peek at the mishmash of items stored within.
For a quick fix, add plug-in LED strip fixtures or battery-powered tap lights under the cabinets for extra brightness.