8 Easy Steps to Remodeling your Small Kitchen

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Last updated: July 7, 2023

It’s no secret that a successful remodeling project can make your dream kitchen real if you have the budget. According to Angi, a person spends an average cost of $26,205 on a small kitchen remodeling project as of 2023. The range people spend on a remodeling project goes as low as $14,593 and as high as $40,487. 

These investments going a long way towards a home’s value. In some interesting Statista.com reading, it seems there was a major uptake in home renovations, kitchen remodels and other projects during the early years of the COVID19 pandemic. Data seems sparse but it could also suggest labor costs were much lower during the pandemic years too.

The most expensive parts of the kitchen remodel are the cabinets, the flooring, and the countertop. The good news is that you can browse different brands of cabinets, flooring, countertops, appliances, and more at Home Depot before speaking with an interior design representative. You both can share kitchen remodel ideas and make a blueprint based on the allotted square feet.

You will learn 8 easy steps to remodeling your small kitchen. I will also tackle small kitchen design tips such as the best type of kitchen layout, how to do an affordable remodel, and how to make a small kitchen bigger. To rise above the small kitchen feel, incorporate the answers for remodeling, layout, budget, and color into your space.

Table of Contents

Remodeling your small kitchen

1. The remodeling process begins with planning.

This step tells you about the square footage, linear foot, floor space, and layout of your kitchen. The budget decides if you can afford a small-scale, mid-scale, or large-scale remodel.

In addition, you must know what must-haves, color schemes, or layouts you prefer in the new kitchen. For example, you may want additional storage space, counter space, open shelving, improved lighting, or a kitchen peninsula or island. The answer will determine if you need more money, scale back, or find another way to achieve the look.

For best results, hire a general contractor to complete the project. It is costly, but contractors can bring on workers like plumbers, designers, flooring, and electricians who can pull the kitchen remodel together. Plumbing, gas lines, and electrical wiring are something few DIY people can do, so I would not go this route unless I have vast experience in handiwork.

A renovation worker removing kitchen wall tile during a home improvement project

2. It’s demolition time.

Demolition tears away the old construction to give contractors a lot of space to work with. The blank space is the foundation for building something new.

I would prep for demolition by removing all food, gadgets, cookware, dinnerware, small appliances, and large kitchen appliances from the small space. That includes items tucked away inside kitchen cabinets, drawers, and pantry. The experts will remove the kitchen sink, countertop, drying rack, lighting, range hood, backsplash, and more.

Continue the preparation by having a wastebasket or sturdy garbage bags for disposal. I will also have a broom and shovel to sweep up debris. Then, the experts will tear down the upper cabinets, lower cabinets, trim, drywall, and flooring.

kitchen plumbing exposed after drywall removed

3. The wiring and plumbing are visible after demolition.

It’s a great time to spend a few days updating anything that must get replaced. The parts must operate as intended and pass today’s building code standards. If you modify the layout, the wiring and plumbing location must change too.

4. A kitchen needs drywall to prevent mold and mildew from developing.

Adding drywall to the walls before painting them is a good idea. Let the drywall dry for about two weeks, prime the walls, and paint the walls a pleasant hue.

5. It’s time to add new floor tiles or laminate on top of the kitchen subflooring.

When to install flooring is a controversial issue, and some prefer to install flooring last, while others would install it after painting the walls.

Since the flooring looks better when it covers the inside of lower cabinets, add flooring now. Besides, the experts will cover the flooring to protect it from scratches and dents for the rest of the remodeling project. Once the backsplash is complete, they will remove the flooring cover.

6. The next step is to install kitchen countertops, cabinetry, and hardware.

The experts will bring to life the blueprint you created with the designer. That may be cabinetry with cabinet doors, open shelves, or a combination. 

The cabinets must be level for easy countertop installation. After all, the countertop’s weight can cause injury and damage. Superior countertop installation makes it easier for the sink to install correctly.

Before installation, the experts will cut out a pre-measured hole for the sink and faucet. If you have a cooking range instead of an oven/range combo, the experts will make a hole in the countertop for it.

7. Install the fixtures, appliances and plumbing.

Install the double or single bowl sink, faucet, dishwasher, and garbage disposal. The updated plumbing done earlier can now connect to fixtures and appliances that require it. It’s a great way to squeeze in installation for refrigerators with an ice machine.

8. Bring other large appliances into the kitchen.

The new appliances like wall appliances, freestanding stove ovens, cooking ranges, and range hoods may require a gas hookup, electrical wiring, or ventilation. The small appliances can return once the big ones are through.

9. Installing fixtures and accents is always the last step.

Installing a mirror, stone, stainless steel, or subway tile backsplash is always the last step. That’s because installing it before countertop installation is complex, and experts must make alternations to fit the countertop around the backsplash because it protrudes forward.

Backsplashes come in many shapes, colors, designs, and textures. A mirror backsplash channels light inside smaller kitchens. Meanwhile, subway tile is the most common type. 

How to remodel a small kitchen cheaply

A small kitchen renovation doesn’t have to be extravagant. Small, simple changes can make quite the impression. Depending on the changes, this can be a DIY project or a contractor hire. 

The layout must stay intact to make a cheap remodel work. Hiring an electrician, plumber, or handyperson is optional. However, it wouldn’t hurt as they ensure the plumbing, electrical wires, wall outlets, flooring, walls, and ceiling pass today’s local building codes. 

To remodel a small kitchen on the cheap, prime and paint the walls. A fresh coat of paint in a different color or shade visually changes the ambiance in smaller spaces. While it would take some time, priming and painting cabinet doors and the back wall a different color will add pizzazz to the area.

Another way to look at this is deciding what kitchen parts need a makeover. Great ideas are adding a new countertop, updating appliances, or adding crown molding or a soffit above between the upper cabinets and the ceiling. Windowless kitchens need more artificial lighting to bring natural light through the entire kitchen.

Besides paint, cabinetry is a powerful indicator of a makeover. Kitchen cabinet ideas to try are installing new stock cabinets, replacing the hardware, or changing the door on existing cabinets to a glass or frosted glass version. You can incorporate open or floating shelves on vertical surfaces to channel that open space feel.

Other good things to do are adding new flooring, changing the backsplash, adding window/door shades, and swapping out the sink and faucet. Small-space solutions to add are a built-in spice rack, a corner appliance garage, and a portable rolling cart. Cart types are a rolling kitchen island cart, a storage shelf rack, and a baker’s rack

The items double as prep space, storage, countertop space, or whatever else the kitchen needs. The racks fill empty spots or gaps so it doesn’t take up unnecessary space. 

What kitchen layout is great for a small kitchen

The best layout for a small kitchen maximizes space while moving smoothly across the work triangle (sink, refrigerator, cooking range/stove). Not all work for small kitchen spaces; the best ones are the one-wall, galley, and L-shape versions.

The one-wall kitchen has all the functions of a kitchen on one wall. While it occupies little space, adding a kitchen island to cover the lack of storage options and work space will make the room smaller. Most one-wall layouts are in a one-room studio or small apartment. 

The galley kitchen is two parallel countertop and cabinet workspaces with a walkway between them. The L-shaped kitchen resembles the letter L. Avoid an island with an L-shaped kitchen as it turns a small kitchen into a very small kitchen.

A U-shape layout will work in a small kitchen as a divider in open floor plans. For example, you may want a U-shape to separate the kitchen from the dining area or the kitchen from the living room. Otherwise, a U-shape surrounded by three walls is a tight space for small kitchens.

A G-shape layout encloses the area with cabinets and countertops. A little space exists for entering and exiting. While it shrinks small spaces, it is a great living and dining room divider for a large kitchen area. 

A U-shape or G-shape with a breakfast bar peninsula is better for a more spacious kitchen, and the same is true for a U-shape or G-shape with an island.

The best color for a small kitchen

The kitchen is a place to spend time with family members and entertain guests. Moreover, it’s a food cooking, eating, and storage area, so the color should not be too whimsical. The right color has personality without distraction.

For one uniform color to paint the walls, ceiling, and cabinets, I would try a bright shade of green, gray, blue, or white. You can also try a shade that mixes two or more colors (gray-blue, gray-green, blue-green, etc.).

I prefer mixing and matching colors, designating one color to the cabinets and the other to the wall and backsplash. The best choice for a small kitchen is the black-and-white combo. Let white be the wall color, and let the black emphasize kitchen components like cabinet hardware, lower cabinetry, and the exhaust hood. 

You can also do two-tone cabinetry. Bright white cabinets are on the upper cabinetry, and a neutral or cool shade is on the lower cabinetry. Conversely, I would use red, orange, yellow, and pink sparingly.

How do you remodel a small kitchen to make it look bigger

It begins by deciding if the layout needs adjusting. A U-shape, G-shape, or a configuration with a peninsula or island makes the kitchen space smaller. Change the design to create much-needed space.

Color is a promising way to make a small kitchen larger. Painting the top cabinets the same color as the wall color enlarges the space. You can also paint the ceiling a different hue from the walls to create visual height.

If you want matching color without paint, purchase the countertop and backsplash tile in the same color. Add mirrors or glass to cabinet door fronts and patio doors to reflect light in the kitchen with or without windows. A mirror or glass choice is also superb for a backsplash. 

Storage solutions to make a small space bigger are creating recessed storage, adding floating shelves, and installing a wall rack for pots and pans. Between the top cabinets and the ceiling is prime real estate to squeeze extra cabinet storage. Other small kitchen ideas are installing recessed lighting, choosing a mirror backsplash, and swapping door openings for a sliding barn door.

Free options to add to your remodel are inviting natural light inside and clearing up clutter. 

What colors will make a small kitchen look bigger

Paint color tricks the eye, giving off the illusion of more space, and it can also trick the eye into thinking the area is small and crowded. The best colors that will make a small kitchen expansive are light colors.

White is the default color for visual room expansion as it represents air and light. I like white, but the shade makes it difficult to keep everything spotless as it highlights dirt and grime. Therefore, aim for bright neutral colors like beige, taupe, and light gray. 

bamboo kitchen cabinet costs - Cosy wooden sustainable living room and kitchen in beige tones with bamboo ceiling

If you want a pop of color that expands a tiny kitchen visually, choose bright cool colors in the blue and green family. Blue represents the sky and the ocean; green represents the outdoors. Both channel tranquility and openness similar to white, making them fantastic choices to include in your kitchen palette.

An alternative to selecting one shade is mixing two or three shades. Two colors can expand the room visually if you use an accent wall. As your eye stares at the accent wall, the wall creates length in a small kitchen. 

For example, paint one wall blue, green, gray, or taupe and the other walls white or beige. You can even use a third color to create geometric shapes on the accent wall, and the design makes it a must-see focal point in the kitchen.

What color floors are best for small kitchens

Light, medium, and dark are the three color choices for flooring. Smaller kitchen spaces need flooring that visually enlarges the area and should also pair well with the kitchen’s color scheme.

Light and medium tones are superb for kitchens with low ceilings, and Dark-colored flooring is better for kitchens with high ceilings. Avoid wood, tile, or laminate flooring with orange or red undertones; it may be too overpowering.

The best flooring color for small rooms with a low ceiling is gray, and it’s a splendid neutral that blends well with bright neutrals and colors. It visually lengthens the room’s small size by adding more light.

Other light and medium colors that work well with small kitchens are cream, yellow, beige, and light brown. For dark floorings such as black and dark brown, bright-colored cabinetry and a dark countertop would be a brilliant combination, and it adds contrast while balancing out high ceilings.

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