Tip 1: Remove a wall
Removing a wall visually opens up the kitchen, making it feel much
larger. You'll be able to chat with family members and guests without
having them underfoot while you work in the kitchen. If you're also
remodeling the kitchen, think about installing peninsula cabinets with
a wide countertop and an overhang for seating. It'll become the kids'
favorite spot to do homework, provide extra seating for party guests, or
just accommodate those big cooking projects.
Tip 2: Add a single-bowl sink
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Single-bowl sinks will seem more spacious but take up less room that a double-bowl sink.
If you're remodeling your kitchen, consider
installing a single-bowl sink instead of a
standard-size double-bowl. Instead of two
small bowls, you'll have one large one. The Kohler Alcott sink shown here is one example. It'll
also allow you to buy a smaller sink base
and save 6 in. of cabinet and counter space
that could be put to better use. If you team up a 25-in. single-bowl
sink in a 30-in. base cabinet with an
extra-narrow (18-in.) dishwasher, you'll
gain a foot of extra cabinet space.
Tip 3: Make a blind-corner cabinet more accessible
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Sliding shelf mechanism
Various types of fold-out and sliding shelf devices will make corner cabinet space more useable.
Blind-corner cabinets are cabinets
on inside corners that are accessible
from only one door. If you have a
blind-corner cabinet in your
kitchen, you know how hard it is to
reach anything that gets shoved to
the back. Most kitchen designers will try to plan space for a lazy Susan base
cabinet instead of a blind corner. These have rotating shelves that provide
good access to the contents. But if you're stuck with a blind-corner cabinet
and no lazy Susan, here are a few options worth exploring.
There are a number of ingenious sliding-shelf mechanisms that allow you
to move the contents within reach, but most, like the Knape & Vogt model
BBCT shown, are rather expensive ($500 to $600). However, we did find a
unit by Lee Valley that costs about $150. It can be installed in existing blind-corner
cabinets that are 35-1/2 to 39-1/2 in. long. You can order one online at www.leevalley.com.
Half-moon–shaped shelves that swivel and pull out are a less expensive
option for blind corners. They only allow you to utilize about 60 percent of
the space but give you easy access to the contents. You can install these in
existing blind-corner cabinets.
Tip 4: Store dishes in the eating area
Why not store your dishes where you
use them? Sure, it'll mean a little extra
work when you put them away, but
they'll be convenient to use, and you
can save kitchen space for cooking
items. For example, a pair
of custom-built cabinets could look
perfect in a dining room setting.
The dishes are stored a few steps from
the dishwasher and within easy reach
of the dining room table.
You don't have to build a custom
cabinet. Bankers' bookcases or other
glass-front cases work well too. You
can find these at antiques stores.
Tip 5: Consider a cabinet-depth refrigerator
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Shallow depth refrigerators are easier to position in a small kitchen.
Cabinet-depth refrigerators stick out about
6 to 8 in. in front of your cabinets, robbing
you of valuable floor space and crowding
passageways. If you're designing a new
kitchen, consider buying a shallow-depth
refrigerator. It'll make your kitchen seem
much more spacious, and depending on the
floor plan, may even allow you to gain cabinet
space across from the refrigerator.
Cabinet-depth refrigerators cost a little
more, about $1,500 for the least expensive
versions, but the extra cost is easy to justify if
you need the space.
Recessing a standard-depth refrigerator
into the stud wall is another way to increase
space (you'll gain about 4 in.). You'll have to
cut out one or two studs and add a header
over the opening for support. You'll also have to relocate the outlet if
it's located directly behind the refrigerator.
Tip 6: Make the most of every inch with roll-outs
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Rollouts make cabinet accessibility much easier and quicker.
Base cabinets have tons of room, but you have to get down on your knees
to reach the back. And even then it's hard to see what's back there. Roll-out
shelves are a great solution. You can order new cabinets with roll-outs
already installed. Or you can easily add them to existing cabinets. There are
many options. Factory-made units that you install yourself cost $30 to
$400. Or you can make your own.
Tall, narrow roll-outs are perfect for those skinny cabinets that are normally
relegated to cookie sheets. If you have an extra cookie-sheet cabinet,
install one of these roll-outs. They're great for soda, canned goods or spices.
You can also buy stock roll-out hardware that supports a wide selection of
Tip 7: Build in your microwave
Counter space is a valuable
commodity in any kitchen, but
even more so in small kitchens.
Moving the microwave off the
counter is a great way to free up
a few extra feet of counter. In
existing kitchens, you may be able to convert the lower half of a
wall cabinet to hold a microwave, but this means making a smaller
set of matching cabinet doors for the top—a challenging job.
If you're remodeling, you can easily design in a location for a
space-saving microwave. The GE Profile Spacemaker II model is
12-9/32 in. deep, so it'll fit close to flush with the fronts of wall
cabinets for a sleek built-in look. Remember to install a recessed
outlet, or locate the outlet inside an adjoining cabinet. Another
option is to recess the back of a standard microwave into the stud
space. This takes careful planning, but it's a good way to make a
deeper microwave look built in.
Tip 8: No room for an island? Try a cart instead
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Kitchen carts expand your work area without taking up much floor space.
Kitchen islands are more popular than ever, but because
you need at least 36 in. all around an island for walking
space, they just don't fit in most small kitchens. A rolling
kitchen cart will give you many of the benefits of an island
and is more versatile. You can move it into the center of the
kitchen for food prep or use it as a buffet table
when guests arrive. Then just roll it out of the
way when you don't need it. In new
kitchens you can leave a spot
under the countertop
for the cart.
made carts are
available with cutting
board tops, shelves
and hooks on the sides
for utensils. The John
Boos, Cucina Elegante
shown retails for $870,
but simpler carts cost as
little as $200. Check
for a sampling of the
Tip 9: Pantry cabinet in a closet
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Near-by closet space
Build a pantry into a near-by closet for less-used kitchen items.
Moving some of your bulkier
or seldom-used items out
of the kitchen and into a
nearby pantry can free up a
lot of space. Look around.
You may have extra space in
a nearby closet or hallway
where pantry shelves would
fit. A pantry could be as simple
as adjustable shelves on
wall standards or a more
elaborate built-in cabinet.
You can order closet parts
like those shown here online at www.easyclosets.com
Tip 10: Add undercabinet lights
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The effect of undercabinet lights
Undercabinet lighting eliminates dark corners and makes countertop space more useable.
Good lighting helps by allowing you to make the
best use of the space you have. Dimly lit or shadowy
countertops are hard to work at. Adding
undercabinet lights is a great way to make the
countertops more useful while making a small
kitchen feel larger.
It's easy to wire for undercabinet lights with the
rest of the wiring during a kitchen remodel. But
adding them to an existing kitchen requires a little
more ingenuity. You can fish them through the basement,
crawlspace or attic and pull them through
the stud spaces to each light fixture. As a last
resort, buy plug-in type undercabinet lights.