Anyone who’s lived in a college apartment or moved into a teeny tiny starter house post-grad understands the pains and joys of cooking in a kitchen the size of a shoebox. On the one hand, small kitchens can be adorable, charming, and quite compact. But on the other hand, if you are an aspiring culinary whiz, a small kitchen can seem claustrophobic and cluttered (especially when your roommate is trying to cook dinner at the exact same time). No matter how you look at it, having a small kitchen is basically a rite of passage—everyone has to start somewhere.

Today I’m going to show you how to make the most of this tiny but necessary space in your house. From culinary-themed décor to smart storage, here are eight ways to make your small kitchen seem a little bigger… and brighter:

1. Keep your walls and cabinets light and bright.
Choosing white, cream or soft beige for the color of your kitchen will help the space to feel brighter and bigger. If you’re someone who needs a pop of color, there’s nothing wrong with painting an accent wall. Just choose a color that is equally light, like pale yellow, sky blue, or blush. This will help the space to feel open and airy, not dark and dingy.

2. Don’t underestimate kitchen art.
It’s common to move into a new place and hang art on the walls of your living room, dining room and bedroom. But adding a splash of art to your kitchen walls is a great way to keep your decorative flow moving throughout every room of the house. I love prints that depict food, coffee, or anything with an inspirational quote.

3. Disguise storage as décor and streamline your kitchenware.
One of the best ways to make any space in your house look bigger (not just your kitchen) is to eliminate clutter. It will help your life to feel more organized, make your home feel cleaner, and allow your cooking adventures to go smoother. Also, disguising storage as décor is a genius idea in the kitchen. For example, “store” your mason jars above your refrigerator and pop a little flower into a few of them to make it look intentionally shabby chic.

4. Freshen up.
Speaking of flowers, nothing brightens up a small space like a vase of fresh blooms. I love displaying small potted succulents, vases of fresh fruit or planted herbs in my kitchen. The best part about showing off your potted herbs is that you can pinch them off and use them to cook!

5. Never leave dirty dishes in the sink.
It doesn’t take a neat freak to notice how a sink full of dishes can make a kitchen feel claustrophobic. If you really want to make your small kitchen feel bigger, you’re going to have to put in a little elbow grease each time you have a pile of dirty dishes. If you just threw a dinner party and you’re just too exhausted to tackle the post-soirée clean up, at least splash some water on pans, dishes and wine glasses. They will soak overnight and the daunting task will be much easier come morning.

6. Keep only what you need.
While we tend to think we need every kitchen appliance under the sun, we actually only need the bare necessities. For example, according to Refinery 29 you only really need three pots—a sauce pan, a big pot, a little pot. And four knives—a chef’s knife for slicing, a serrated knife for bread, a boning knife for filleting, and a small paring knife for smaller cuts. Opt for the bare necessities you know you will use often enough to keep—ditch the food processor, keep the blender. This will help to streamline your kitchen and make it easier to use what you have as well.

7. Maximize your natural light.
Letting in a lot of natural light is one of the best ways to make a small space feel bigger and more open. If you have kitchen windows, don’t put heavy curtains or blinds over them. Let that light shine through, by all means! It will also make it easier to see what you’re doing when you’re cooking up a storm.

8. Opt for open shelving.
Trying to de-clutter but don’t have adequate cabinet space? Hang shelves on the wall, and be sure to keep them tidy. They will serve as a decorative way to display kitchenware and cook books. Just be mindful of what should be displayed on the shelves and what should be kept in cabinets (shelve your cranberry champagne glasses, store your bulky juicer.)

Do you have any tips for making a small space look bigger?

Team LC