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Dublin: 3°C Thursday 9 December 2021

Small kitchen? Here's how to make it work for you, according to a design expert

Small is beautiful – and a compact space doesn’t have to mean an awkward kitchen, says Cash & Carry Kitchens designer Corey Minagh.

THERE’S A COMMON misconception among people who have a small kitchen, according to designer Corey Minagh. That is that they don’t have enough space to improve it. 

“It’s something I come across almost daily,” says Corey, an experienced designer with Cash & Carry Kitchens. “People are almost bashful about it. They’re saying look, it’s very small, I don’t know if you’re going to be able to do anything with it.” 

In truth, most small kitchens don’t have a space problem, he says – they have a design problem. 

“I live in the country, and I’ve a tiny kitchen” he says. “But I have it planned properly. So it doesn’t feel small at all.”

The most common issues in Irish kitchens, he says, are a lack of storage and countertop space – often caused by a ‘pack it all in’ approach when the kitchen was built.

More often than not, if you’ve got a small kitchen, it’s been planned to fit in the essentials, but it’s been designed badly. Storage needs and work surfaces have been ignored. The appliances are squeezed in for the sake of it, and the base and wall cabinets are inaccessible because they’re making room for appliances. 

But here’s the good news – there are some simple design solutions that can radically transform this most important of rooms. ”A few clever ideas can transform a room from an awkward kitchen, to your dream kitchen.”

We asked Corey to share his essential tips.

1. Be ruthless about what needs to go in there

The first port of call, says Corey, is making an inventory of what the kitchen contains – and then eliminating anything at all that can go somewhere else. “We can first look at what needs to stay, and what can be moved out,” he says. “Does that washing machine need to be there? Is there somewhere else it can go?” 

Space can be saved around other features too. “You can then look at the sink – in older kitchens, sinks are often double drainers” that aren’t needed. “You can reduce the size without actually losing anything at all.” Smaller households might swap out a full-size dishwasher or sink for more slimline models, for example. It all adds up, says Corey, to significant space savings before you even change the overall design.

Source: Cash & Carry Kitchens

2. Rethink your storage – starting with the corners

We might think that we’ve made the most of every available inch of storage space. But through a designer’s eyes, that’s usually not the case, says Corey.

One of the biggest culprits in many smaller kitchens is the corner cabinet. “Believe it or not, these are usually the biggest cabinets in the house,” he says. “They can hold a huge amount… but once they’re full, whatever is at the back tends to stay there.”

Something as simple as installing a carousel within the cabinet can revolutionise the space available. These can either spin within the cabinet, or pull out entirely. “The best would be something like the Le Mans corner carousel – they take what’s at the back and pull it right out into the floor space,” says Corey.

Other simple storage wins include replacing cupboards and shelves with pull-out drawers – “in a drawer, you can see everything” says Corey – and turning that space-wasting tall store that might only hold the sweeping brush into a full-height larder cabinet. 

Source: Cash & Carry Kitchens

3. Use light to create a sense of space

Many existing kitchens in Irish homes have wood or wood-effect cabinets which darken the room and make it feel smaller than it is. But light is crucial in making a room feel spacious, says Corey. “That’s not just the electrics – it’s paint and decor too.”

For a smaller kitchen, he suggests a light colour for the cabinets, perhaps in a gloss finish to reflect light back into the room and create a sense of space. This also gives you the scope to keep contrast with stronger colours elsewhere. “By going with a lighter kitchen door, you can go with a darker countertop for balance, and a splash of bright colour on the walls.”

There’s plenty of scope to be creative with the lighting itself, too. “You can introduce a glass feature cabinet with some cabinet lighting, that will give it a lift. You can have plinth lighting for your kickboard, or under-cabinet lights for the worktop.”

Source: Cash & Carry Kitchens

4. Design it to suit your needs – not anybody else’s

To make the most of your space, says Corey, you need to think about exactly how you use it. What are the pain points at the moment, for you personally?

For example, if you find bending down to your oven a strain, an eye-level oven could be a must in a kitchen tailored for you. Someone else could feel the opposite. “There’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution,” he says. “It’s all about how people are going to use it.”

Moreover, we are often so used to being in our own kitchens that it can blind us to the possibilities of a new layout, he says. This is where a second set of eyes can be useful. “You’d be amazed what fresh eyes and creativity from a professional kitchen designer can do for you. As soon as we see your measurements, we’re visualising the potential of that room in a way that’s completely different to the way you see it.” 

Source: Cash & Carry Kitchens

5. Make sure you understand how everything is going to look and feel in practice

One of the most common mistakes that people make when planning a kitchen, says Corey, is including features that sound good on paper but don’t fit the design in practice. This is especially important in a small room where space is at a premium. 

He suggests making sure you get ‘hands-on’ with every element that you want in your kitchen, so that you’re clear about how it works and how it will relate to other elements of the room. 

“If I meet customers at the showroom, the first thing we’ll do is spend 20 minutes just walking around, showing them all the different elements and how they can work as part of a kitchen,” he says. “They see it all in action. So by the time it gets to putting it in the computer” in a custom design, “they know exactly how it’s going to work in the room.”

You can book a free design appointment with Cash & Carry Kitchens today, at any of their 15 nationwide showrooms. With a reputation built on quality, trust and expertise, Cash & Carry Kitchens are with you all the way – from the first conversation, to seeing your new kitchen installed by trained fitters. To start your journey and book a free consultation, visit cashandcarrykitchens.ie or call 1890 92 92 26. 

Sponsored by:

Cash & Carry Kitchens

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