6 Tricks to Make Your Small Kitchen Feel Big

Open Shelf Kitchen

Neatly displaying dishes on open shelves can create a sense of openness.

Kitchen has become theater. How so? Guests are so often tempted to hang out in or near the action while dinner is being prepared. If you're lucky enough to be an organized chef, this can be a delight and not a stress factor. But not all kitchens lend themselves to entertaining in real time, especially those that are neither large nor organized. So for those who like to entertain in the kitchen but don't have a big (or organized) footprint for doing so, here are six creative floor-to-ceiling ways to cultivate a sense of space, light, and air around the art in progress, for kitchens of all styles and shapes.

1. Clear the floor. If you have an island with barstools, use wall-mounted stools instead. Barstools that flank an island often have legs that extend into the area where others want to walk by—especially when those stools are pulled out and occupied.

2. Consider interior cabinets as pull-out drawers. A conventional cabinet is 25-inches deep, which is a far reach back. But installing a cabinet drawer increases your access to those items two or more layers back, whether the cabinet stores food, pots and pans or storage bowls.

3. Rethink super-size appliances. Appliances can take up too much of the floor footprint and counter space. If you can sacrifice square footage on the interior of the oven, range, dishwasher and refrigerator square footage, this translates into more counter space, and a greater feeling of optionality and openness. The combo microwave/toaster and 30-inch range with two ovens can help toward this end, as can 18-inch dishwashers, 30-inch ranges, and 18-inch column freezers. As for sinks, Moen single bowl styles give maximum space for rinsing food, and washing dishes (not to mention hiding away dirty dishes during the dinner party).

4. Shelf it. If your plates and bowls are white or monochromatic, display them on open shelves to exaggerate the sense of openness, and emphasize space between shelf and back wall. The key here is to not fill the shelves with clutter, but to keep the stacks tidy and the space between stacks generous and clean.

5. Look above you. Take advantage of storage space that is even beyond your reach—all the way to the ceiling. A step stool or rolling ladder takes up less space and it's not a hassle if you're using the higher storage area to keep non-everyday items like cleaning supplies, extra wine glasses, or less-used kitchen gadgets. Particular areas of opportunity include the area above windows and the refrigerator.

6. Hang pots from the ceiling. This is the ultimate in functional for the frequent chef, eliminating the need to open drawers or walk across the kitchen to a storage cabinet. And the age-old idea isn't just functional; it also lends opportunity for creativity. Bring nature into your home by screwing hooks to a thick branch hung from the ceiling, or use copper piping for a sense of the polished.

So if your kitchen is your theater, set the stage well and enjoy the performance. And while you're chopping, searing, and pouring: break a leg!