Small kitchen ideas on a budget - how to go big on style

Small kitchen ideas on a budget don't need to scrimp on style - and they needn't cost a fortune

Small kitchen ideas on a budget
(Image credit: Daval)

Think  small kitchen ideas on a budget don't exist, and can't be stylish unless you spend a fortune? Think again. 

Tighter spaces lend themselves to mini statement features such as colourful splashbacks and boldly patterned flooring, and small kitchen ideas can be among some of the most daring and creative. Even installing a trendy tap can bring your bijou kitchen bang up to date.

From choosing stream-lined, handleless cabinets and savvy storage solutions, to keeping colours light on top and illuminating dingy corners, there's a host of simple - and affordable - interiors tricks to draw upon to make the most of your space. 

Below are some of our favourite examples of diminutive kitchens that pack a design punch.

Hide functionality behind flair

Small kitchen ideas on a budget

(Image credit: Ledbury Studio)

This London pied-à-terre is a masterclass in compact open-plan living. Floating glass shelves above the base cabinets allow for a touch of character in the form of plants and decorative objects, while a hanging rail retains that coveted open feel while keeping kitchen paraphernalia close to hand.

"Just because a kitchen is bijou, it doesn't mean it can't be big on style," says bespoke kitchen designer Charlie Smallbone of Ledbury Studio. "Here, we have hidden much of the functionality behind closed, pewter-fronted doors, meaning all you see is a collection of handmade pieces of furniture. Whether you are dining at the table or lounging in the living area, you will always have a beautiful view."

Go handleless for clean-lined cabinets

Small kitchen ideas on a budget

(Image credit: Ema Peter)

Small kitchens can quickly look cluttered, so keep detailing to a minimum and avoid the shaker style. Handleless cabinets create a contemporary, clean-lined effect that doesn't confuse or overwhelm the eye. There's a wide range of finishes to choose from, including the modern glossy white of these units, recently chosen by interior designer Gillian Segal for a sleek new apartment in Vancouver. 

Light up dark corners and spotlight hidden features

Small kitchen ideas on a budget

(Image credit: Pooky)

When it comes to lighting your small kitchen, Rohan Blacker, founder of Pooky, suggests installing downlights or LED strip lighting in the recesses of your cabinets. 

"They're great at highlighting darker corners and will really open up your space," he says. "Use lighting to highlight certain features in your kitchen that may be hidden in the shadows of overhanging cabinets, be it your new red toaster or a statement tiled splashback."

Play with blurred lines

Small kitchen ideas on a budget

(Image credit: Benchmarx Kitchens and Joinery)

"Light and muted worktops work brilliantly in smaller kitchens as they naturally reflect light back into the room," says Julia Trendell, design expert at Benchmarx Kitchen and Joinery

"Blurring the lines of where the worktop ends and the wall starts is another great trick for making a kitchen feel larger. Continue a granite or quartz worktop up the wall as a splashback or upstand to give the illusion of more space with minimum hassle."

Get playful with a colourful splashback

Small kitchen ideas on a budget

(Image credit: CDT Tiles)

It's easy to make a feature of a splashback in a small space. Even if it's the only thing you change, it'll make an impact and give your whole kitchen a lift. Tiles ooze elegance, or look to glass and metallic splashbacks if you need to bounce more light around the place. 

Make a bijou floor statement

Small kitchen ideas on a budget

(Image credit: Harvey Maria)

Statement patterned kitchen tiles help draw the eye away from the dimensions of a room. They look really cool in bijou spaces, if you're on a budget, the good news is that you don't need many! Floor tiling doesn't tend to overpower a space, adding instant personality that you might not be able to fit in elsewhere. Look to Harvey Maria for this easy-clean luxury vinyl tiling (LVT) that looks like the real deal but won't break the bank.

Give tired units a fresh lick of paint

Small kitchen ideas on a budget

(Image credit: V33)

To liven up an uninspiring kitchen without starting from scratch, give tired kitchen cabinet  doors, radiators and even some fridges a fresh lick of paint. Even wall and floor tiles can be painted on a budget. Choose a hard-wearing paint that can be applied directly to your kitchen surfaces. Look for a smooth, stain-resistant finish that quickly wipes clean in the event of spills and splashes. Shown here is Anthracite from V33 at just £18 per litre.

Use flooring to help a broken layout flow

Small kitchen ideas on a budget

(Image credit: Carpetright)

Not got an open-plan kitchen? Flooring can be used to connect your space to the rest of your home. For creating the perception of space, David Snazel, hard flooring buyer at Carpetright, recommends a light wood finish floor with a single plank design. 

"Carry the same flooring from the kitchen to conjoining areas to create a consistent flow between the rooms," he says. "Chevron wood flooring can be especially effective running from a narrow kitchen into a separate dining or living space, making these areas feel harmonious."

Nab a designer ex-display bargain

Small kitchen ideas on a budget

(Image credit: Used Kitchen Exchange)

Did you know that you could snap up kitchens that were formerly used in showrooms? There are brilliant bargains to be found, such as this designer ex-display kitchen from Used Kitchen Exchange. Given the confined space of most showrooms, these kitchens are often packed with smart storage solutions. What's more, buying 'used' helps offset your carbon footprint in the name of sustainability, and what could be cooler than that?

Don't be afraid of the dark

Small kitchen ideas on a budget

(Image credit: Kitchen Makers)

"It is not strictly necessary to stick to a bright palette in small kitchens," says Ben Burbridge, managing director at Kitchen Makers. "If you'd prefer to use dark, rich tones, try to create consistency through the textures and materials so as not to overwhelm the space."

Go lighter on top and darker down below

Small kitchen ideas on a budget

(Image credit: Kitchen Makers)

Overhead cabinets can make an already tight kitchen feel even more cramped, but if you need the storage, detract from their bulk by painting them a lighter shade than your base units.