Narrow kitchen ideas – 10 genius ways to turn this tricky shape into a showstopper (2024)

If we're being totally honest the best narrow kitchen ideas involve a sledgehammer, Kirsty Allsopp-style, and possibly a small extension. But if you are looking to swerve major demolition and spiralling costs, we’ve got your back.

When puzzling overhow to design a kitchenwith narrow proportions, it’s easy to focus all your attention on the practicalities. But while plotting ample storage and an ergonomic flow between cooker, sink and prep areas is important, it’s often those space-boosting design tweaks that lead to the most successfulsmall kitchen ideas.

Including opportunities to wow, perhaps with a striking designer light fitting or fancy flooring, won’t impinge on the narrow space, and will make it more enjoyable to spend time in your beautiful kitchen.‘I often recommend creating a focal point at the end of theroom, perhapswith a small table, shallow display unit or a piece of statement artwork. This can work to bring the look together and distract unwanted attention away from any spatial restrictions,’ says Kasia Piorko, founder ofKate Feather.

Narrow kitchen ideas

There are plenty of savvy ways to transform the fortunes of a dimensionally challenged kitchen, and our experts have got the skinny on the very best of them.

1. Use narrow-depth cabinets

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(Image credit: Armstrong Keyworth)

In seriously narrow kitchens, a double galley kitchen layout using full-depth units on both sides will leave the middle walkway compromised. Unless you want to shimmy through your kitchen like a crab, follow this advice from interior designerDean Keyworth, who actioned it in the narrow kitchen in his own London home.

‘My top tip for narrow kitchens if you haven’t got room for full-size units on both sides is to use 30-35cm deep wall units stacked up on each other on one side.This provides plenty of storage and you can even house shallower equipment like a microwave or integrated coffee machine,’ he says. ‘Using a striking feature like this orange Smeg fridge also draws the eye to the end of the kitchen and makesthe space appearless narrow.’

2. Lay down a runner

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(Image credit: Future PLC)

‘A patterned runner in anarrow or galleykitchenadds style as well as texture,’ says Julian Downes, managing director ofFibre.‘Choose adirectional patternto helpdraw the eye through the room to the open space beyond. The softer surface of a rug transforms the feel of anarrow kitchenand if you don’t have underfloor heating then itwill helpaddmuch-neededwarmth.’

Create a bespoke rug toensureit fits the space perfectly, leaving a clear section of flooring visible on either sideandopt fora hardwearing and low-maintenancerugmaterial, such as those made from durablepolypropylene, which is practical for kitchen use.Machine washable runners such as once from Ruggable are also a smart move in busy kitchens, as well as outdoor rugs, which are designed to be hosed down.

3. Choose lift-up doors

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If ditching the wall cupboards to create a more spacious feel is a non-starter on the storage-front, swap for kitchen cabinet ideas for units with lift-up doors. ‘Instead of pulling the door out to the side, the life-up cupboard allows you to open the door by pulling it up towards you. It’s ideal for tight areas and prevents doors from clashing or cutting off space,’ explains Jen Nash, senior design lead,Magnet.

Store frequently used items on the bottom shelf of wall cupboards to minimise excessive stretching. Before starting to cook, open up all the doors on a run of wall cupboards to enjoy easy and speedy access to essential ingredients and daily-use crockery. Then shut everything neatly away when you’re done.

4. Layer the lighting

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(Image credit: Davonport)

Carefully considered kitchen lighting ideas are wise when planning any new kitchen but when it comes to narrow andgalley kitchens, good lighting can be a massive game-changer. For narrow kitchens, particularly those with small or non-existent windows, Richard Davonport, managing director ofDavonport, recommends a layered approach. ‘Layered lighting – which isall aboutchoosing different lighting stylesand effectsin the same space – can allow you to be playful and make a statement and is especially important inspatially challenged kitchens,’ he says.

‘As well as task lighting (spotlights), you’ll want to consider ambient lighting in the form of pendants but make sure that they are close to the ceiling so that your vision isn’t crowded, and the space doesn’t look too busy,’ Richard continues.

‘Add in accent lighting forcreating the impression ofgreater depthin the space. You can use accent lighting to create pools of light that add warmth and depth and that doesn’t clutter space.Examples ofthis style of lightingincludeup-lighting plinths or LED stripsinside glass cabinets,which can all work together to make your kitchen feel bright andairyat any time of the day.’

5. Cut out the clutter

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(Image credit: Havwoods)

The lack of kitchen storage ideas is one of the main negatives of any narrow kitchen. Once all the essential appliances are in place, and the sink area sorted, the remaining opportunities for storage are limited. Richard Keyes, head of design atHobson’s Choice, suggests taking a ‘less is more’ approach and seeing these storage restrictions as a great opportunity to streamline your space.

‘In a narrow kitchen design, it is tempting to include as many cabinets as possible to feel like you’re truly taking advantage of all the available space, but what you really need to do is consider how much storage you truly need,’ he says. ‘If you fill the kitchen with cabinets from floor-to-ceiling, you are at risk of closing the space in, and making it feel even smaller. It’s far better to have fewer cabinets, containing everyday items, than cramming everything in and not being able to find it.’

So, have a good clear out, ditch or sell any small appliances or gadgets you haven’t used in the past year, and cull the Tupperware supplies down to the bare minimum. Ditto all those drinks bottles, you only need one per household member, not six! Mugs you never reach for can go, as can any out-of-date herbs or crazy health-kick ingredients you’ve not touched since opening.

6. Work the floors

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(Image credit: Future PLC)

‘If there’s a focal point beyond the kitchen such as a garden view or light open space, then a tile or engineered floor laid in a herringbone pattern can help lead the eye through,’ addsFiona Ginnett, creative director,HØLTE.‘Another neat trick can be to use the flooring material for the plinth, which will againmakethe floor appear wider.’

Covering one of the largest visible surfaces in the kitchen, the flooring can have a huge impact on the sense of space and there are several clever ways that flooring can present the impression of width, without the cost and upheaval of physically increasing the room’s dimensions.

Floor tiles with a three-dimensional pattern, like these, will create an optical illusion that visually pushes the walls outwards. Laying plank or tiled flooring on the diagonal, is another pro tip for making narrow kitchens appear wider.

7. Seek specialist solutions

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(Image credit: Future PLC)

When it comes tosmall kitchen layouts, a U-shape layout is one of the most popular choices in a narrow kitchen as can help to ‘square up’ a long room and provides the largest volume of worktop. One downside of any U-shape layout is the unavoidable inclusion of corner cupboards, which can easily turn into a dark, unreachable storage wasteland inside.

‘The key to a narrow u-shapekitchen is using every inch to your advantage,’ says Hayley Robson, creative director, Day True. ‘We like to use specialist storage solutions inside corner cupboards, such as slide-out or Le Mans units – they literally bring the contents out to you, without needing to get down on your hands and knees.’

8. Expand with colour

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(Image credit: Future)

Never underestimate the space-boosting powers of a smart kitchen colour scheme in a narrow kitchen. ‘Matching the colour of your wall units with thepaint colour used on thewalls is a great way to stop theformer fromfeelingimposing. Matt finishes, handle-less doors and clean lineswillalso help wall units blend into the background,’ says interior designer,Louise Robinson.

‘I often like to pairpale wall units withdarker, contrasting base unitsas itleads the eye away from what's on top and helps the space to feel lighter and more open,’ adds Louise.‘Considerglazed wall units as a lighter alternative to solid doorsif it suits your style, and tidiness levels!’

9. Embrace open space

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(Image credit: Kitchen Makers)

While you may not be willing to sacrifice too many cabinets in a narrow kitchen, there’s a strong case for embracing the benefits of open shelving ideas, without excessively compromising on storage.

‘Integrating a small element of open storage – from simple wall-mounted shelves through to glass-fronted cabinets or islands which integrate elements of both – not only provides extra storage but allows you to add decorative touches to the room to elevate the aesthetic,’ says Ben Burbidge, managing director,Kitchen Makers. ‘Used to display your favourite cookbooks, ceramics or glassware, it only takes a small shelving moment to create a big focal point in the room.’

10. Harness light-boosting surfaces

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(Image credit: Future)

Selecting materials and finishes that reflect the light is one of those tried-and-tested, space-boostingkitchen trendsthat is older than God, but it’s a move that remains popular because it really works.

‘A tinted or antiquemirroredsplashbackis a simple way tomake the space feel wider as it expands the visual boundary of the eye-line,’ explainsRoselind Wilson, director ofRoselind WilsonDesign.Positioning mirrored splashbacks on walls that reflect an external view, for example, opposite a window or sliding doors to the garden, will help bring the outside in.

‘We also like to incorporate glazed cabinetry with internal illumination, which instantly adds visual depth because the eye can ‘read’ the full depth of the room without the obstruction of a solid door,’ adds Roselind.

What type of kitchen is best for a long narrow space?

Both modern and classical kitchen cabinets will work for a long narrow space, as long as the overall look is streamlined, and clutter is kept to a minimum. Handleless designs work particularly well.

‘Any kitchen that useslighter colours, perhaps subtly coordinating, in a longer narrow space is a great way to open up the kitchen and reflect and diffuse effectively the limited natural light which may be available,’ adds Mark Mills, managing director,Mereway Kitchens.‘Boost space by incorporating taller units for increased storage capacity. A narrow kitchen can be super stylish when shapes, colours and light are optimised to open and lift the space.’

What is a good layout for narrow kitchens?

A really narrow kitchen lends itself to a single galley layout, or an L-shape layout at a push. Aim for at least 1m walk-through space in a narrow kitchen, which will allow you to get past cupboard doors when they’re open. For a double galley or U-shape layout using standard sized base cabinets, the kitchen will ideally be at least 2.3m wide.

‘You have to carefully plan the design of a narrow kitchen to make sure you maximize the use of the space. When exploring layout options, avoid having the sink directly opposite the hob as those are the two busiest areas of the kitchen,’ says Kasia Piorko, founder ofKate Feather.

‘If possible, position the fridge and ovens away from the entrance so that these appliances do not block the entrance when they are in use.When exploring storage options, keep at least one wall with fewer or no wall units so that the space does not feel too heavy,’ adds Kasia.

Narrow kitchen ideas – 10 genius ways to turn this tricky shape into a showstopper (2024)

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