When you only have a small and/or awkward space to fit your kitchen into, you’re more likely to need a bespoke design – every corner must be utilised, and all natural light must be taken advantage of. You may even need to knock down a wall or move a door, if you want a room that you’re genuinely happy to stay in for more than it takes to cook a stir-fry; this will need a builder who knows what s/he is doing.
Urban kitchen designers, like London-based Increation, typically recommend prioritising excellent craftsmanship – you need to find someone who can fit cabinets and shelves into difficult corners whilst maintaining a high quality finish. Keep the layout simple, and achieve visual interest with natural textures and intelligent colour instead of fancy footwork.
Galley style is one of the most common kitchen layouts in urban dwellings, and can be an excellent way to keep your space practical but stylish. It’s also a good way to carve a kitchen area out of an open-plan space. Let’s look at some ideas for maximising both visual and practical space in a galley kitchen:
Keep the eye low
Although floor-to-ceiling cupboards seem like a good storage solution when there isn’t much space, they bring the interior surface into the room by a good 20cm, which is fine lower down but makes a narrow room look even more narrow when they’re above head height. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them at all – just use them carefully, and probably not all along the wall.
Break a run of high cupboards with low surfaces – this will be necessary for the hob and sink, anyway – or with a section of shelving. Open shelves above the eye level, or at least head-height, are a good way to keep the space looking wide without sacrificing storage space. If you must have cupboards, try using glass doors with lights inside; this will add depth and brightness without leaving all your belongings out in the open.
Add comfort with colour
To avoid that sterile “operating room corner” feel without bulking out the space with textiles, use coloured cabinet doors and paintwork. Combine paint with natural wood and other textures like exposed brick for warmth without shrinking the space, and stick to lighter shades, since dark colours will absorb more light and make a galley kitchen look narrower.
Love the natural light
Install a large skylight or glazed roof if your kitchen doesn’t have any rooms built on top of it; otherwise make sure the windows are used to full advantage by removing curtains and fussy window treatments. Glass doors will also let in more light, and will extend the space by giving a view beyond it.
Avoid busy patterns and small high-contrast repeats
Although colour and texture are great for adding interest to a small space, patterns – even tiling – will add visual clutter that makes the space look smaller. Tricks like laying wooden floorboards diagonally instead of straight across will visually “widen” the floor space and add interest without too much contrasting detail; the same can be done with floor tiles, but again – keep them large and monochrome.