Beautiful Small-Kitchen Remodel Ideas

By Emily Greenhill Pierce · February 13, 2023 · 8 minute read

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Beautiful Small-Kitchen Remodel Ideas

Navigating a small kitchen can be challenging, especially if you love to entertain or have numerous mouths to feed. If your snug cooking area needs an upgrade, you might be craving ways to create more elbow room and storage areas.

Fortunately, choosing from the buffet of small-kitchen remodel ideas can help you expand your culinary space without breaking the bank.

What Is the Average Size of a Small Kitchen?

Today, the average small kitchen is considered to be 70 square feet. Many apartments in big cities have kitchens of 50 square feet or less.

Isn’t that a shame? Not always. Unsurprisingly, millennial homebuyers, who have constituted the biggest share of buyers for years, are far less likely than baby boomers and Gen Xers to cook dinner at home.

A little kitchen might suit them fine, but they still may like the idea of zhuzhing it up.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.

10 Small-Kitchen Remodel Ideas on a Budget

You don’t need to demo a wall or take out a reverse mortgage to improve your cozy canteen.

At an average of $150 per square foot for both materials and labor, a homeowner might spend $10,500 for a 70-square-foot kitchen remodel. Some will spend much more, and some, much less.

Here are 10 small-kitchen remodel ideas on a budget that will work for most kitchen configurations.

1. Go for a New Backsplash

Installing a festive new backsplash can range from $10 to $95 per square foot. Stick with ceramic tile, brick, or tin for more affordable options than marble or glass.

Adding a backsplash with geometric patterns can make a small kitchen seem larger.

2. Install Open Cabinets and Shelves

Open cabinets and shelves offer a contemporary feel and a chance to display your favorite dishware. The look can also be a less expensive option than traditional cabinets while lending a sense of airiness to a once-cramped kitchen.

3. Change the Flooring

Installing a new floor can be an affordable way to revamp the look of your small kitchen. Vinyl kitchen flooring comes in a variety of snazzy colors and patterns, and costs between $1.85 and $3 per square foot, or up to $10 for high-end materials.

4. Paint With Light Colors

A fresh coat of paint can give an instant facelift to any small kitchen. But dark colors tend to absorb light and constrict the space. By choosing light colors, you can brighten and open up the room.

5. Add Style and Storage Above

Maybe you bought a starter home, and the kitchen isn’t all that.

Maybe downsizing your home seems like the thing to do, little kitchen and all.

Whatever the case, small kitchens generally need more storage space. Inexpensive stylish bins or decorative baskets on top of kitchen cabinets can help.

6. Hang a Ceiling Rack for Pots and Pans

Create vertical storage for your pots and pans with a rack hung from the ceiling. Moderately priced pot racks range from modern to rustic-chic in style.

7. Hang Your Kitchen Utensils

Carve out more room in your kitchen with a magnetic knife rack. Decorate a wall with your most-used wooden spoons and cutting boards.

8. Use the Space Under Your Cabinets

To free up more counter and cabinet space, install a paper towel holder or a wine rack underneath the upper kitchen cabinets. You could also add an extra shelf for spices or coffee mugs.

9. Opt for a Single Sink

If you have a small kitchen, you probably don’t want a sink eating up a big chunk of your counter space. Single butler sinks can provide plenty of depth for dishwashing and come in a variety of prices for the budget-conscious.

10. Choose Compact Appliances

Compact dishwashers are ideal for small kitchens and can cost less than standard size options. And if you are a one- to two-person household, a slimline refrigerator can be a great space saver; they come in fun colors and retro styles.

10 Small U-Shaped Kitchen Remodel Ideas

A U-shaped kitchen, also called C-shaped or horseshoe-shaped kitchen, can provide a great layout for small kitchen spaces, giving one or more chefs more room to maneuver.

Its open configuration offers functionality, but you can lose some storage and counter space.

Here are 10 small U-shaped kitchen remodel ideas to give you a little more whisking room.

1. Implement a Triangle Workflow

To maximize the layout in your small U-shaped kitchen, a triangle workflow plan can allow for the right amount of spacing between your sink, stove, and refrigerator.

Configure your three major “work” areas at adjacent countertops, ideally placing the fridge and the stove across from each other on the peninsulas, with the sink in the connecting, middle counter.

2. Create a Breakfast Bar

Try turning one of the lengths of your U-shaped kitchen into a breakfast bar/seating area. It only needs to be wide enough to hold a cup of morning joe and a cereal bowl, and deep enough to slide in some stools underneath.

3. Install a Window Over the Sink

A window over the kitchen sink is a fantastic way to bring the great outdoors into your U-shaped kitchen. The extra light provides breath to the space and a view while washing the dishes.

4. Get Depth With Contrasting Colors

While dark paint colors aren’t typically the best choice for a small U-shaped kitchen, there are ways to create space by using slightly darker shades.

For example, if you have white cabinets, painting the surrounding walls and backsplash area a light gray can give the illusion of depth.

5. Consider a Darker Countertop

If you have light-colored cabinets, the contrast of a rich brown or black marble countertop can trick the eye into seeing more depth.

6. Install Recessed Lighting

Hanging light fixtures can break up the flow in a small U-shaped kitchen, but recessed lighting can give a chic, streamlined look while increasing the amount of light in the room.

7. Make a Statement With a Black & White Contrast

White cabinets against black countertops and flooring can make a striking design statement while adding dimension. If you choose a reflective black paint or vinyl for the floor, it will give off an illuminating effect when the light hits it.

8. Designate a Wall of Cabinets

You can stretch the space and amount of storage by dedicating an entire wall to cabinets. You’ll lose some counter space but reduce clutter. Try extending the cabinets to the ceiling for an elongated effect.

9. Choose Glass for Your Cabinets

Glass panes on your kitchen cabinets can reflect light, creating the illusion of more space. Their transparency will make it easy for you and your guests to find cookware and wine glasses.

10. Ditch the Cabinet Hardware

If you are replacing your cabinets, consider a style with no handles or knobs. Doing so could offer a sleek, modern look that won’t cramp the design flow.

Ways to Finance a Small-Kitchen Remodel

If you don’t have the cash to pay for your renovations, there are several financing options to help you get that new kitchen sink without draining your savings.

Home Improvement Loan

A personal loan for home improvements allows you to receive a lump sum, often the same day, with no collateral required. You’ll repay the money, plus interest, in monthly installments.

An unsecured loan may come with a fairly high interest rate.


If you have enough home equity, you may be eligible for a home equity line of credit (HELOC) by using your home as collateral. The rate will typically be lower than that of a personal loan or credit card. Plus, you’ll only make payments on the amount borrowed.

But HELOCs may come with closing costs, fees, and a minimum-withdrawal requirement. Most have a variable rate, which could eventually go up. Your home could be at risk if you default on a HELOC.

Still, when rates rise, so does the popularity of HELOCs.

Cash-Out Refinance

With a cash-out refinance, you can use the equity in your home to help redo your small kitchen. You would refinance your mortgage for more than you owe and use part of the difference to cover the project costs.

The downsides of a cash-out refinance? Your overall debt on your house will increase, and closing costs will typically be 2% to 5% of the loan amount.

Credit Card

If you have a 0% or low-rate credit card and can pay off the debt quickly, it could be a smart way to pay for a kitchen remodel while earning some travel miles. But a high-interest card could result in hefty monthly payments, and missing even one payment damages credit scores.

Recommended: Buying? Learn the Different Types of Mortgage Loans

The Takeaway

A small-kitchen remodel can increase the value of your home and raise your joy factor. You can put your little-kitchen project on the front burner with a range of financing options.

SoFi offers a fixed-rate personal loan with no fees as well as a cash-out refinance.

With a HELOC brokered by SoFi, you can access up to 95%, or $500,000, of your home equity to put toward your small-kitchen remodel and other home improvements.

Get cooking to bring your visions to life with a HELOC.


What is the average cost of remodeling a small kitchen?

The average cost of a small-kitchen remodel is $10,500, given an industry average of $150 per square foot for materials and labor and an average small-kitchen size of 70 square feet.

Can you remodel a small kitchen for $5,000?

A do-it-yourselfer can remodel a small kitchen for as little as $5,000 by painting the walls and existing cabinets, installing new hardware (or none at all), laying vinyl flooring, and buying white or black appliances instead of stainless.

What is the best layout for a small kitchen?

U-shaped kitchens are popular because they maximize cabinet and surface areas. If an island won’t fit, try a peninsular breakfast bar connected to the wall. In a narrow kitchen, aim for a double galley.

Can you update an old small kitchen?

Of course you can. Plan it, budget for it, and add about 20% for emergencies.

Photo credit: iStock/martin-dm

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