Small Ikea kitchen ideas – 10 stylish and practical designs for tiny spaces

These small Ikea kitchen ideas will help you create a unique and functional kitchen whatever space you have to work with

Small Ikea kitchen ideas
(Image credit: Ikea / Cate St Hill)

Small Ikea kitchen ideas are perfect for those looking to create a practical, stylish and affordable kitchen with little room to play with.

Designing any kitchen is a big undertaking, but when space is at a premium, creating a functional space that looks good can be even more tricky, but, with some creative thinking and clever small kitchen ideas and Ikea room ideas, there's a whole host of possibilities. 

From fitted modular cabinet systems to freestanding pieces, Ikea kitchen ideas offer a wide range of solutions specifically designed for small spaces and in styles to suit all tastes. Or, for something more unique you could look to customizing an Ikea kitchen with some creative Ikea hacks.

To help get you inspired we've rounded up a host of small Ikea kitchen ideas as well as some tips from the experts.

Small Ikea kitchen ideas

The great thing about small Ikea kitchen ideas is that they are wonderfully flexible. Designed for self-assembly and available in a range of standard sizes, Ikea's modular cabinets can be fitted with a range of internal storage and configured in endless ways to create the perfect small kitchen layout. There's also a wide array of multifunctional freestanding kitchens and kitchen storage ideas available from small veg trolleys to portable kitchen islands that can be easily moved should you require more space for entertaining.

1. Make the most of wall height

Black Ikea METOD MAXIMERA High cabinet

(Image credit: Ikea)

When the footprint of a room is limited it's important to make use of the height of the room. Ikea offers a range of affordable standard sized units which can be configured to make the most of small spaces, including tall METOD MAXIMERA cabinets which can feature shelves or drawers. 

'Use all the height of your kitchen. Make sure your cabinets go as close to the ceiling as possible. Lesser used items can be stored there, and a step stool will make them easily accessible when they are needed,' says Grant Robertson, interior design leader, IKEA UK & Ireland. 

2. Customize the doors of an Ikea kitchen

The Minne Stuga dark green Ikea kitchen with checked floor

(Image credit: @theminnestuga / @thefauxmartha)

Fitting custom doors to Ikea carcasses is a fabulous way to create the look of a stylish, high-end kitchen for a fraction of the price.

Here interior designer Melissa Coleman has transformed the kitchen of her Minne Stuga holiday cabin in Minnesota with Ikea cabinets and shaker-style doors by Semi Handmade which perfectly complement the cedar-clad interior and the woodland setting. An integrated dishwasher helps create a uniform look while the chequered floor brings makes a fun contrast.

3. Limit cabinets onto one wall

Small grey ikea kitchen in the home of Cate St Hill

(Image credit: Cate St Hill)

If space is tight then choosing a linear layout and fitting cabinetry to a single wall may well be the most efficient use of space, and can make a small kitchen look bigger. In this small Ikea kitchen, interior designer and writer Cate St Hill made the most of every inch of space.

'I chose to run the kitchen cupboards right to the ceiling and add an extra row of units above the top cupboards over the worktop. I would have loved open shelving but that would never have worked realistically,' says Cate St Hill. 'I always think the space above units becomes a bit of a lost space anyway, inevitably left to get dusty. This means we can store all the things we don’t necessarilyevery dayryday, like vases, cookbooks, baking equipment etc.'

Being a small space it needed to be clutter-free, so Cate chose a sleek and simple grey kitchen with VEDDINGE matt grey doors. 'I chose to keep everything as minimal as possible. That meant integrated appliances (including an extractor fan) and simple kitchen doors with push openers instead of handles. I think it gives a more streamlined look and helps the kitchen blend into the wall, giving a neat finish.'

4. Rethink appliances

ENHET kitchen in anthracite/grey frame with TILLREDA portable induction hob

(Image credit: Ikea)

This space proves how with some clever thinking and design solutions a kitchen can be squeezed into the tiniest of spaces. 

Consisting of open shelves, two cabinets, and three drawers, this ENHET kitchen unit fits snugly into the corner of the room – perfect for a small apartment or Air BnB property. To maximize space in the fridge freezer has been moved to an alcove behind a curtain and in place of an oven or hob, a portable hob plugs into the wall.

'Depending on how much you use the kitchen, a traditionally sized hob might not be required. Induction hobs with 1 or 2 zones save a lot of worktop space in a small kitchen. A portable option such as TILLREDA can even be stored away completely when not in use,' says Grant Robertson.

5. Combine standard Ikea cabinets with bespoke solutions

Dark green Husk Kitchen with ikea cabinets and bespoke storage

(Image credit: Husk Kitchens)

Sturdy and affordable, Ikea carcasses make a great base for customizing with bespoke elements and there are specialist companies available that can work together with you to elevate the look and functionality of an Ikea kitchen. 

When designing a small kitchen, 'make sure every inch of space is utilized by designing storage to fit into every awkward space, whether that is very shallow shelves for herbs or narrow shelves for wine bottles, or drawers built into steps, every corner can be used,' says Dave Young, founder of Husk Kitchens. 'We often design bespoke storage that fits alongside the standard sized Ikea kitchen units for clients so they are maximizing their space.'

Consider the details, from small kitchen islands to breakfast bar ideas for small kitchens.

'We went full bespoke with this client's kitchen, taking the Ikea skeleton units to a whole new level. We introduced bespoke shelving on the island with additional seating on the breakfast bar and far end island.'

6. Choose a colorful ply design

Ikea kitchen with Plykea doors in Fenix Bloom 'Verde Brac' with birch J-Profile handles

(Image credit: Plykea)

Upgrading Ikea cabinets with bespoke doors allows you to create a truly unique space. If you're looking for a Scandinavian kitchen with a touch of color why not try ply doors from Plykea? Their design expert explains the benefits of swapping doors but retaining Ikea's clever ways for organizing a small kitchen.

'Ikea kitchens are also well designed and have great functionality. Their kitchen storage organizers and accessories are carefully considered, allowing you to adapt the kitchen to your needs, making cooking and mealtimes more efficient,' says Anne Clouston, designer at Plykea.

'By combining an IKEA kitchen with our fronts, there are so many possible combinations to create a kitchen that will be uniquely yours. The end result is a kitchen with the functionality of Ikea combined with our beautiful exposed birch ply edges, elevating the off-the-peg units.⁠'

7. Create an impact with vibrant colors

Ikea kitchen with custom doors by Husk and a yellow island

(Image credit: Husk Kitchens)

Wondering what is the best color for a small kitchen? As rooms in which we spend lots of time, it's important that small kitchen paint colors create spaces that are happy, uplifting places to be. Elevating Ikea cabinets to create a colored kitchen island is a great way to bring personality to a small space.

'Bold colors such as soft pinks, yellows and emerald greens which can be overwhelming in a large kitchen create a stylish statement in a smaller space and look great with contemporary worktops like terrazzo or other composites,' says Dave Young of Husk kitchens. 'Match with geometric tiles and integrated hidden handles for a bright modern look that is also streamlined for small spaces.'

8. Replace wall cabinets with alternative storage

KUNGSFORS wall storage Ikea

(Image credit: Ikea)

Doing away with chunky wall cabinets overhead and replacing them with alternative storage solutions is a great way to make a small kitchen feel more spacious and open. Consider too whether kitchen cabinets should be lighter or darker than walls?

'Make the most of your walls. There may be areas in your kitchens where cabinets will not fit, however, these areas can still be used. Hooks or rail systems can be utilized to keep items tight to the wall and close at hand,' says Grant Robertson, interior design leader, IKEA UK & Ireland.

This KUNGSFORS grid hanging system and trolley together with the ply doors are perfect for those fans of Scandinavian decor, though other kitchen wall decor, such as kitchen art ideas can make your space feel entirely unique.

9. Break it up

small black kitchen with base and wall cabinets and freestanding wooden unit

(Image credit: Ikea)

'Although there is a temptation to fill the space with as many cabinets as possible, be careful; that may lead to the space becoming unbalanced and overpowered by the kitchen. Some free space is important and can allow for some decoration to express your individuality and keep the balance.'

Mixing closed cabinetry with glazed cabinetry as well as shelves and freestanding units in a contrasting finish will help break up the design helping it to feel more relaxed and welcoming.

10. Add in portable pieces

Ikea freestanding wooden kitchen unit

(Image credit: Ikea)

Freestanding kitchens are a great way to bring flexibility to a kitchen layout as it means the kitchen can be moved around should the purpose of the space need to change, plus they can be taken with you if you move house.

Ikea has lots of freestanding units to suit all tastes from lightweight timber designs which can easily be lifted and are perfect for farmhouse kitchens, to industrial-style metal trolleys on casters. Portable kitchen islands are great for creating extra workspace, but if space is too tight there are other alternatives.

'A chopping board that fits over the sink can provide extra worktop space when the sink isn’t in use. NORRSJÖN chopping boards are designed to fit perfectly over NORRSJÖN sinks and are made of hardwearing oak,' says Grant Robertson.

How do I design a small Ikea kitchen layout?

To design a small Ikea kitchen layout the first thing to do is to do an inventory of what you need to store followed by a floor plan. 

'The best starting point is to consider exactly what you need to store and how best to store it. How and what you can cook change the requirements for the kitchen and reducing what you need to store to the basics will help immensely,' says Grant Robertson.

'Think about how much storage you need and divide your kitchen equipment into ‘every day’, ‘sometimes’ and ‘hardly used’,' says Adds Dave Young of Husk Kitchens. 'You need the everyday items to be close to the food preparation area, perhaps on open shelves, the ‘sometimes used’ items need to be within easy reach and the ‘hardly used’ can be further away, perhaps in a freestanding cupboard.'

When it comes to layout always try to follow the rule of the kitchen triangle which proposes that the fridge, cooker and sink should all be within equal distance of each other.

'Consider the fridge/freezer first as that is usually the largest single piece and needs to be easily accessible,' says Dave Young. 'Food preparation needs to be equal distance between the hob and sink if possible.' If worktop space for preparing food is is limited 'install a pull-out food recycling bin below the food preparation area so you can quickly and easily keep it clear,' he adds.

What type of Ikea kitchen is appropriate for a small space?

Both Ikea's fitted kitchens and freestanding kitchen solutions can work well in a small kitchen. Often a combination of both fitted cabinetry designed to fit snuggly into the space available and portable solutions will be the best solution. 

When it comes to cabinets, 'shallow-depth base cabinets are a great option. They won’t hold appliances but, in those tight spaces, they can be used to give additional storage where standard base cabinets won’t fit,' suggests Grant Robertson.

Pippa Blenkinsop

Pippa is a contributor to Homes & Gardens. A graduate of Art History and formerly Style Editor at Period Living, she is passionate about architecture, creating decorating content, interior styling and writing about craft and historic homes. She enjoys searching out beautiful images and the latest trends to share with the Homes & Gardens audience. A keen gardener, when she’s not writing you’ll find her growing flowers on her village allotment for styling projects.