5 ways to make your tiny galley kitchen feel bigger

Got a galley kitchen? You can make it feel less like a hallway and more like a real room with these five design tricks. Click through and find out how >> yesandyes.org
This is guest post come from our DIY/design contributor Thalita of
The Learner Observer! Thalita writes about easy, cheap ways we can all make our small, rental spaces even cuter. Follow along with her on Twitter or Instagram!
There are many styles of kitchens out there, but it seems that in small spaces and apartments one is certainly most popular: the galley kitchen.
You know what I’m talking about: the kitchen that’s essentially a hallway with countertops and cupboards on either side? Yeah, I have one of those, too! But it really is possible to live with a galley kitchen, make it look great and, dare I say, love it!

Here are my five favorite ways to make your galley kitchen feel bigger

1. Lighten up (with white or lighting)

Speaking of bright, that’s another important aspect to this kitchen style, which normally boasts a window above the sink or at the end of the kitchen. Lighting in this style of kitchen will help the space feel bigger – always a bonus!
To help, try adding some lighting under the cabinets, too! These lights are available at most hardware stores and you can even get battery-operated ones.
Got a galley kitchen? You can make it feel less like a hallway and more like a real room with these five design tricks. Click through and find out how >> yesandyes.org
What’s brighter than white? Well, probably nothing, so consider using as much of it in your kitchen as possible as the light will bounce off of the white surfaces, again, creating the illusion of a bigger space!
Oh, and if painting your cupboards isn’t an option, check out some of the renter-friendly solutions I shared with you last month, which involved using contact paper!
Got a galley kitchen? You can make it feel less like a hallway and more like a real room with these five design tricks. Click through and find out how >> yesandyes.org

2. Open up your shelving

Open shelving can look so chic – particularly if you fill with beautiful, carefully chosen items (save the tupperware for the lower cupboards.) You can open your shelving two ways: replace your cupboards with interesting shelves, or simply remove your cupboard doors!
Got a galley kitchen? You can make it feel less like a hallway and more like a real room with these five design tricks. Click through and find out how >> yesandyes.org
If removing cupboards or doors are not an option but you’re lucky enough to have a free wall at the end of your kitchen, add some shelving there. Honestly, any available space in our kitchen is prime shelving real estate!
Got a galley kitchen? You can make it feel less like a hallway and more like a real room with these five design tricks. Click through and find out how >> yesandyes.org
Any kind of open storage is helpful in a galley kitchen, so think outside the box and try something other than just shelving. Metal racks, hooks, pegboards – all of these are great options for adding storage that doesn’t take up a lot of space and that you can take with you if/when you leave!Of course, our beloved Ikea has tons of space-saving shelving and hook options for you. Those Europeans know what’s up!
Got a galley kitchen? You can make it feel less like a hallway and more like a real room with these five design tricks. Click through and find out how >> yesandyes.org

3. Add patterns to the walls

If plain walls aren’t your thing,  then perhaps injecting a pattern or two into your space is the answer! Wallpaper (or even just good ol’ paint) might do the trick. I think this print would be great on a kitchen accent wall.
Got a galley kitchen? You can make it feel less like a hallway and more like a real room with these five design tricks. Click through and find out how >> yesandyes.org

4. Dress up that (super narrow) floor

Just because you don’t have much square footage, doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of it.

Got a galley kitchen? You can make it feel less like a hallway and more like a real room with these five design tricks. Click through and find out how >> yesandyes.org
Too bold? Ok let’s go with something a little simpler, maybe? A smaller pattern?
Got a galley kitchen? You can make it feel less like a hallway and more like a real room with these five design tricks. Click through and find out how >> yesandyes.org
Kind of a dreamy kitchen, right? Trust me, I don’t have floors that bright and shiny either. What I do have, however, is a bold, patterned rug that gives me the feeling of having cool looking tiles instead! Isn’t this runner classy?
Got a galley kitchen? You can make it feel less like a hallway and more like a real room with these five design tricks. Click through and find out how >> yesandyes.org

5. Fancy up your walls and windows

For even more colour, pattern and renter-friendly solutions, pair that patterned rug with a large piece of art in your kitchen (I’m partial to this vintage nautical print.) It’ll make it feel way less like a hallway with a kitchen in it, and more like a super sophisticated and grown up space!
Got a galley kitchen? You can make it feel less like a hallway and more like a real room with these five design tricks. Click through and find out how >> yesandyes.org
If your kitchen is like mine and has a window at the end of it, try a bold roman shade instead for the same effect. (This one is cute.)
Got a galley kitchen? You can make it feel less like a hallway and more like a real room with these five design tricks. Click through and find out how >> yesandyes.org

Let’s go over the main points one more time:
  • Light it up! Have as many lights as possible and remember that white is your friend.
  • Open shelving and storage will open up your space.
  • Patterned walls and/or flooring (or rugs) for an optical illusion.
  • Large artwork or interesting window coverings give the eye a place to rest – and it’s not on your dirty dishes!

Do you have a tiny, galley kitchen? How have you made yours livable? Tell us in the comments!

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12 Comments

  1. Rachel Ann Pierce

    Such great ideas. My kitchen is tiny, but I kind of love it. My favorite things that I've done is I'm using a half apron as a window curtain (until my cat pulls it down… maybe it's time to look into a roman shade). I also got picture rails from IKEA and hung them above my stove to use as a spice rack. Pretty, practical, and clears some space in my cabinets. I shamelessly stole the idea from a friend of mine, but I don't even care.

    Reply
    • Thalita

      Love how thrifty you were in thinking of using a half apron, and also, good call on the picture rails as a spice rack! I just got some of the rails for my bedroom and now want them in every room of the house! And hey, isn't copying someone the greatest form of flattery? 😉

      Reply
  2. LouLou

    Good ideas! Not all doable for everyone, but very inspirational. My addition would be forgoing the microwave. I lost mine in my most recent move and figured I'd just wait until I really missed it to shell out for a new one. It's been four months and still no real need and now I can't imagine giving up that much counter space.

    Reply
    • Thalita Murray

      I love the idea of giving up the microwave! My parents have just done that, and they also say they don't miss it. You're definitely on to something here!!

      Reply
  3. Get Organized Already

    Holy gorgeous pictures, Batman!
    Use your vertical space: always the best advice.
    Thanks, Thalita. I'm checking you out!
    -Nonnahs

    Reply
  4. kathrynoh

    How do you manage to keep your stuff oil/dust free in the kitchen on open shelves? I mean apart from constant cleaning. Whenever I've had open shelving, things get that gross layer of dusty oil on them.

    Reply
    • Thalita Murray

      In all honesty, I only leave out the things I use most! All of my plates and bowls stay out, and my husband and I go through them all often enough that they don't get greasy. I don't find I have to constantly clean many things, and if they start to get a little greasy, I use a homemade cleaner: 50% water, 50% vinegar and a few drops of lemon/orange essential oil or throw in a peel. It's fantastic and even cleans up gross bacon grease! I hope that helps!!

      Reply
  5. Meg @ Adventures in Verdance

    I live in a small apartment with a tiny kitchen. I find that using the crap out of the walls helps me amazingly. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply
    • Thalita Murray

      Totally! My own kitchen is teeny tiny. The first thing I did (after painting it to get rid of the hideous peach colour) was hang up shelves!

      Reply
  6. Sharon K.

    Wow, the pictures are inspiring! I have a tiny spice kitchen, where I do all my heavy duty cooking. I covered the walls with inexpensive white tileboards, (easy to clean), from the home depot for $50, then placed wavy mirrors, that look like the ones from IKEA, but actually got from Walmart, at a fraction of the cost, and placed them horizontally to create the illusion of more space; replaced a cheap wall mounted light with a gorgeous crystal looking chandelier, also on sale at home depot, (the crystals are actually plastic, but who would know!), and layed down a matching runner I got from home depot for $12.
    Talk about gourmet kitchen! Everyone who visits, thinks an interior designer, but nothing could be further from the truth, so thank you for all the information you share with everyone. There is no limit budget or otherwise we should place on ourselves and the elegance factor in our homes!

    Reply
  7. Keith

    I’ve used lighting underneath the cabinets to brighten up my galley kitchen. I still need to paint the cabinets white, but this will do for now.

    Reply

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