We see a lot of great small kitchens, and the best ones have smart layouts, maximized efficiency and clever storage solutions. If you are planning a large renovation, or just want refresh your space, here are twelve tried and true ideas for getting a kitchen that totally works.

Cut the Corners: If you are designing a kitchen from scratch, galley (or walk-through) kitchens are efficient layouts that don’t leave lots of dead space. If you already have an L-shaped floorplan, consider corner kitchen drawers, or lazy Susans inside your cabinets, to make awkward spots more functional.
Reflective Surfaces: Install mirrors wherever possible, to add the illusion of more space.
Backsplash Shelving: The wall area above your counters, or over the range, is one more place to eke out storage, in addition to cabinets. Small shelves are the perfect solution for keeping things you use regularly within reach, like spices or cookbooks.
Kitchen Counter Bars: If you don’t have room for a proper kitchen table, a bar countertop doubles as both prep space and an eating area.
Custom Details: If you can, create elements that fit your space exactly, and make use of every square inch. Virginia and Kelly built these specially angled counters for their loft kitchen.
Under-Cabinet Lighting: Nothing makes a kitchen feel more cramped than poor lighting. A few under-cabinet lights go a long way towards making your small kitchen more functional and workable.
Hanging Storage: Bulky pots and pans hung overhead (and in front of the window!) free up lots of cabinet space and add visual charm to Mark’s kitchen. Wire baskets are another cheap option.
Kitchen Islands: Use that extra three square feet of space for an added work surface. If you buy or make an island with storage underneath, or one that can be rolled into a closet during parties, all the better.
Hooks: Hooks are low profile, affordable and flexible and you can never have too many. Place throughout the kitchen and use for mugs, towels, or pots and pans.
Special Solutions: Divide and organize your kitchen so everything has its perfectly sized and oriented spot to live, right where you’ll use it. Plan for plate racks, vertical cookie sheet slots inside cabinets, or ways to tuck the trash out of sight. Above, Jason created this shredding station right next to his hidden recycling bin.
Integrated Cabinet Pulls: Having recessed, cut-out, or flush-mount pulls, instead of hardware, is just one more way to ensure smooth movement through your space, and reduce visual clutter.
Open It Up: Taking off upper cabinet doors, or installing open shelving, makes a kitchen feel open and airy.