At Wren Kitchens, our years of experience mean we know just how tricky it can be to get everything you want from a small kitchen, so we have a few tips to guide you through the process:
Get the right layout
The first thing to decide on is the layout as you need to work with the space in your kitchen, not fight against it. If your kitchen is very narrow, a galley-style layout with everything side-by-side works best, but if your kitchen area is tucked away in the corner of a larger room, an L-shape gives you more options, or possibly even a U-shape to add in a breakfast bar that could do away with the need for a dining area..
Whatever style you choose, think also about the practicalities of day-to-day use; you don't want to find one person at the hob and another at the worktop are getting in each other's way in the small space. Also with L and U-shaped kitchens, it's easy to overlook something as simple as an open cupboard preventing access to the fridge or dishwasher. Think about how certain areas can be used for different functions, and see what areas can double up. This can get complicated, so write down your various options on a piece of paper which you can then come back to later. Soon enough you'll find a combination that you can work with.
Once you've got all this in place, with the placement of your utilities and your exact space measurements, you can use the Wren online kitchen planner to build a model of your new kitchen. Anything you input can be modified or removed, so you don't have to send it off to us until you're completely happy. Even then, you can get expert advice from our design team on space-saving ideas and potential tweaks to the layout which you may not have thought of.
Make the most of your light
One problem that is often found in small, tucked-away kitchens is a lack of natural light, which can make the space feel pokey and dingy. To make it seem brighter - and bigger - clear away clutter from your window and then use hard, glossy surfaces to bounce the light around the room. Textured wallpaper and carpets absorb the light, so stick to shiny tiling and glossy kitchen cabinets.
Obviously you'll need some artificial light in there, so look to incorporate small spotlights (LED ones are the best for efficiency) in important areas, such as food preparation areas or over the hob. Uplighting is also a good way to highlight features on shelves while also making the ceiling seem higher. Again, complementing spotlights with glossy surfaces will enhance their impact
Choose your accessories wisely
While you may dream of a wine cooler and a high-tech coffee machine in your kitchen, it is very easy to overcrowd a small kitchen so you have choose your accessories carefully. Get your essentials - fridge, cooker, sink etc - in place on your kitchen plan and then decide what to do with the surrounding space. You'll have to be realistic about what your kitchen can accommodate, and that may mean you have to ignore items which won't be used regularly.
With those essentials, shop around and look for more compact models to see if they can fulfil your needs. Even if you already have a cooker, if you're spending money on refitting an entire kitchen, a bit extra to replace your existing model with something more compact may be worth the expense in order to make more space.
Clutter is the enemy in small kitchens - worktops with loads of bits and pieces on them really make the space feel crowded and claustrophobic, so you need plenty of storage space. Only essential, regularly-used items should be out on your worksurfaces - the rest of it needs to find a home. If you're lucky enough to have a high ceiling, make the most of that space by using high kitchen cabinets that extend to the roof. Also, add extra shelves wherever possible; if your washing machine is smaller than your worktop height, fit a shelf in just above it - the same goes for the cooker, fridge etc. If you're adding a breakfast bar, could shallow drawers sit comfortably underneath the counter top? Solutions like this provide a great deal of storage space without affecting the space in the room.
Don't forget you can complement your kitchen cabinets with some free-standing drawer units, but we have one great tip for you: look for units which stand on longer legs, because if you can see the floor underneath, it will make the floorspace - and therefore the room - feel bigger.