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Big Design Ideas for Small Cabin Kitchens

Cook up a kitchen that satisfies with these savvy ideas.

Written by Donna Peak
Photo: Yankee Barn Homes
Easy to clean, super efficient and (whoo hoo!) less expensive — small kitchens are all these things, but they can be so much more. They can be cozy, charming and every bit the centerpiece of a home...when they’re well planned and properly designed.

Incorporate these five ingredients, add a dash of your own personality and mix well for a cool cabin or cottage kitchen that suits your taste.

1. Lessons in Layout.

Designers will tell you that the “galley style” is the most efficient kitchen configuration in a small floor plan, and this long, narrow layout does have the cabin and cottage vibe baked right in. While this school of thought isn’t wrong, it does impede the open floor plan that today’s homeowners crave.
As an alternative, consider an open “L” layout, placing the cabinetry/sink/appliances lining the rim of adjoining, perpendicular walls. For flexibility, forgo a fixed island in favor of a movable roll-away unit or even a simple farmhouse dining table. The latter hearkens back to the eat-in kitchens of yesteryear and allows you to maximize your space more efficiently.

2. Create Color Cohesion. 

Choosing a consistent color — even the same material — for your backsplash and countertops will create the illusion of space. For example, quartzite slabs can be cut as thin as a half inch and applied as a groutless, virtually seamless backsplash that ties into a thicker-cut countertop. The continuous look will draw your eye from the horizontal to the vertical, giving the kitchen a larger, more open appearance (and they’re also super easy to clean).

You may even choose to match the color of your cabinets to your counters/backsplash, which is often seen in the classic “all white” kitchen, but don’t feel limited to this most hygienic of hues. Soft pastels and even bold jewel-toned schemes work, too, as long as you incorporate ample lighting to keep the space from feeling dark or closed in. If you really love the monochromatic look, be sure to mix up the textures to keep it from feeling sterile or dull

3. Don’t Skimp on Storage.  

A cluttered space creates a cluttered mind — not the atmosphere you want in a cozy cabin or cottage. One of the keys to success is to ensure your kitchen doesn’t look or feel disorderly. This is why incorporating enough storage is just as vital when space is sparse as it is when the kitchen is sprawling – maybe even more so. Cabinetry and drawer organizers, portable pantries, dishware display racks and open shelving all go a long way toward keeping things tidy.

To keep the room feeling bright, consider a few glass-fronted cabinetry doors, which will help reflect light around the room. In fact, installing lighting in those cabinets will give the space an extra helping of charm.
Photo by Brandon Malone / Home by Honest Abe Log & Timber Homes - This petite kitchen won readers' hearts in our 2020 Best Homes contest. Read more here.

4. Work Wonders with Wood.

Wood is one of those materials that adds automatic warmth and coziness to a space (hence the ever increasing popularity of log and timber homes). From rustic exposed beams to wood-clad vent hoods to ceramic tile that mimics the look of wood grain, every kitchen will benefit from having at least one wooden element in it.

The result is instant cabin charm.

5. Buy Less of the Best.

It’s no secret that kitchens are the most expensive room in the house to outfit. From pro-grade appliances to fancy fixtures, it’s easy to get caught up in all the cool items you can include in this area. And, if your kitchen is supersized, it’s just as easy to bust your budget.

However, a petite kitchen just may make all those high-end upgrades more appetizing. Smaller square footage reduces the amount of countertops, tile, flooring and cabinetry you will need, potentially making a few splurges more affordable.

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