Decorating a small space is never fun, especially when it’s a space that sees a lot of use, like the kitchen. Galley kitchens are notoriously bad, because they’re both small and cramped, and much more enclosed than you typically want for a contemporary kitchen. But just because you have a small space doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. This petite kitchenette by Lake Country Builders is trim and stylish, sacrificing a little bit of storage space to emphasize decorative elements and transforming a cramped corner into a focal point of the greatroom – and a great spot to host guests.
Why It Works: One of the biggest problems with galley kitchens is that they’re enclosed, and one of the best ways to update your look is to knock out your barrier wall entirely and replace it with a structural beam and a kitchen island (or at least a peekaboo style counter, to give the illusion of openness and that oh-so-popular counter style seating). Replacing some of your cabinets with open shelves is a controversial option, but I like the look here because the wood’s a perfect match for the beam and butcher block, giving the space a nice sense of unity. Knocking out the wall and switching to shelves rather than cabinets means losing a lot of storage space but fills your kitchenette with light and makes it feel like an integral part of your greatroom. Of course, once your kitchen isn’t walled off, you have to make it look good enough to blend with the rest of your space. Small touches like the casual shelves, nicer lighting fixtures, and comfy, cushiony bar stools will give your kitchen a homier feel that will keep it from feeling out of place.
To be fair, the setup above isn’t actually a full kitchen – if you look closely, it lacks a few of the essentials (namely a stove top and range hood) you’d need for really rigorous daily use. But while this space in particular is used as a very well fleshed out wet bar, with a few small modifications these tricks would work perfectly in a fully-functioning (but undersized) kitchen or kitchenette.
Get The Look: I’d leave the heavy lifting (and the wall demolishing) to the professionals, and wood shelves should be sourced with your butcher block and beams. But the finishing touches are easier: a bold, graphic tile backsplash in a similar color to the cabinets adds visual interest without standing out too much, and leather upholstered barstools feel enough like your favorite recliner to help bridge your cooking, dining, and living spaces. The globe-style pendant lights are a slightly more urban take on classic milk can pendants, giving your space a nice designer finishing touch. A kitchen faucet with a pull-down sprayer will give you a little more flexibility with a small single-basin sink, and a separate water dispenser is perfect for serving up fresh filtered water. A cabinet-fronted kegerator is the signature touch for this wet bar, but in a kitchen you’d want to pair a traditional range with cabinet-fronted appliances to keep them concealed and minimize the kitchen-y feel of the space.
Small kitchens and kitchenettes can be downright cozy (in a good way) if you put in the effort to make them look nice – and sometimes usability means sacrificing a little bit of storage in favor of a space that’s comfortable to actually work in!