Designer Iantha Carley loves a good challenge, and designing a small kitchen puts her problem-solving skills to the test.
"You have to be really creative to make the most out of a tight space that is such an important part of a home," Carley says.
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For those looking for inspiration, Carley suggests starting a Pinterest dream kitchen board and creating an "idea book" from photos on Houzz.com. Include examples for storage, lighting, cabinetry, flooring, countertops, appliances, hardware and accessories.
Here are six of her favorite suggestions for making every inch count.
• Plan carefully. Creating the best solution for a limited amount of space takes longer than designing a massive trophy kitchen. Do your homework. Create generous storage by maximizing cabinet possibilities, add interest with custom design details and mix materials and textures.
• Create a wish list, but know you can't have it all. Write down everything you've ever dreamed of having, then start eliminating. It's better to shoot for the moon rather than wish you'd added something when it's too late. Some goodies: a pot-filler faucet that's mounted on the wall behind a cooktop; pop-up electrical outlet strips that retract into a countertop; pullout trays for dog food and water bowls built-in under cabinets. A pullout trash can that is built-in behind a kitchen cabinet is a must; otherwise it will take up too much valuable floor space.
• Splurge on appliances. Even if you can't have yards of cabinetry or a huge center island, you can add luxury to your tiny kitchen. Check out European appliance makers, which are always trying to save space while delivering energy savings and knockout style.
• Heat your floor. You're going to spending a lot of time standing in this room, so why not feel a cozy warmth from the bottom of your feet? Heated floors can be pricey, but with fewer square feet, it's a smaller outlay.
• Don't clutter up counter space. Workspace is the most valuable real estate in a tiny kitchen. Avoid drilling too many holes in your counter. Skip the built-in soap dispenser and spray hose. In the galley kitchen Carley designed for Lorena Bow, the only built-in feature around the sink is the garbage disposal button.
• Avoid pendant lighting. Although the wow factor of hanging artsy lamps is tempting, avoid this trendy choice. Pendant lights, often used in trios, take up lots of visual space. Recessed lighting and under-cabinet lighting are your best options, she believes.