Interior Designer Karin Bennett On How To Make The Most Of A Small Kitchen

by Karin Bennett

You know how they say love what you do and you won’t work a day in your life? Well, as an interior designer, I am one of those lucky people who (eventually) figured out her calling. My sister and I grew up with parents who were house flippers — they were ahead of their time. They could have had their own show! We moved around a lot, eight different houses to be exact, and you know what? I actually loved it!

Moving around so much, I came to appreciate the newness of an untouched space waiting to be turned into a home. I developed a passion for architecture and decor. However, I didn’t immediately pursue interior design as a career from the start. I practiced as a registered massage therapist for ten years before venturing into my current career. As my kids got older, I began helping my friends decorate their homes, kind of as a hobby. I started getting referrals from friends of friends to help them in their homes, and it made me realize that I can actually do this for a living! When I launched my own interior design business six years ago — Karin Bennett Designs — I couldn’t have been more excited to turn this passion into my career, and help others make their living spaces work best for their busy lives.

Recently, I had an opportunity to do just that for a client, Alexandra Rabbitte, who came to me to redesign her modern kitchen in a house she shares with two other people. As you can imagine, things can get a little tight. In a smaller kitchen, the real estate on the countertop is always hard to come by — even if you have a large island. Alexandra shared with us that her life is hectic, and her goal in the morning is to get out the door as quickly as possible.

I really love small-space living and appreciate how communities are embracing living together in compact homes. What makes me happy is that small spaces mean a smaller ecological footprint and are therefore more cost effective. Translation: great for the environment and smart for your budget. That’s a win/win for everyone! Speaking of which, that’s why I made the Keurig® K-Mini™ coffee maker a central part of Alexandra’s updated kitchen. She loves that she can now make a quick coffee on her way out the door since she is always on the go. And her roommates are pretty happy, too!

In this client's kitchen, we loved the clean white backsplash, stainless steel appliances and counter space — such a great space to work with and we knew just what she needed! When designing a white kitchen, I like to add elements of warmth and texture, so the space doesn’t feel sterile. Wooden accessories are a great way to add texture and livability! A wooden cutting board or cheese tray does not need to be kept in a drawer. Try leaning it up against your counter to break up a white backsplash. Layering different size trays works great and gives a layered appeal. The next time you are entertaining everything you need is right at your fingertips. Can you say wine and cheese night?

The kitchen is also a great place to display artwork. Find something that works with your personality and build your room from there. In a white kitchen, keep the frame in a neutral tone and build on the wooden elements. We decided to incorporate a unique print with elements of nature to bring the serenity of the outdoors inside!

In small homes, space comes at a premium, so I always suggest a minimalist approach. Everything visible should be functional. Choose one small appliance to display — likely the one most used. (If you’re anything like Alexandra, it’ll be your coffee maker!) It is important to remember that a sleek look should flow from floor to ceiling. Do not take up floor space with unnecessary carts or shelving. Make it a habit to only showcase those items most used for a visually uncluttered feel.

Small does not mean inferior, and there are plenty of ways to maximize a small space. Corralling kitchen objects on a tray not only looks great but is also convenient when entertaining. The juxtaposition of texture, size, and color can make a small space seem bigger and add a hint of drama. Displaying a tasteful tray with neutral-colored elements, such as brown and brass candlesticks, is key in a small space.

In this kitchen, we found a beautiful pedestal plate and featured local pastries so they could be accessible as a snack with a cup of coffee. You can personalize with any treat to satisfy you prefer. I may not have as much time as I would like to bake fresh desserts, but my family still loves eating them!

Open shelves are great if you are lacking storage space. You can use the shelves to store your fresh or dried herbs. Simply place your store bought herbs in a jar of water and they will last much longer. If you have adequate lighting, place a multitude of herbs in a neutral pot for easy access and a gorgeous fresh element of greenery! Here is a garden tip for you - mint is an invasive species, so be sure to keep it separate from your other plants and herbs. If you are like me, you buy fresh herbs for one recipe and then they sit in the fridge, forgotten. Seeing them out on display in my kitchen often inspires a new and creative meal idea.

I love decorating a space with fresh flowers and fruit. It can make your home feel approachable and welcoming. Not only do they smell amazing but there is so much joy to be found in their color as well. If you find fresh flowers are too expensive, no problem! There is nothing wrong with purchasing and creating your own bouquet of faux flowers. Be sure to wipe them down with a damp cloth to prevent the dust from accumulating. I like to change up the flowers or fruit I display to keep with the seasons. A bonus with displaying seasonal produce is that they are usually inexpensive at your local farmer’s market.

When styling your kitchen all you need are some great decorative accents to make your small space organized and beautiful. Do not forget to add your own personality when decorating your place. After all, you should feel happy and peaceful in your own space. Like I always say, “love the space you live in” — no matter the size!

This article is sponsored by Keurig.