Small space solutions for the kitchen

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Posted: Sunday, May 6, 2012 8:00 pm

(ARA) - Crowded cabinets, cluttered counters and nonexistent prep space. Sound familiar? For many homeowners, small kitchen spaces make everyday use and entertaining a source of frustration. While a small kitchen can pose many challenges, it doesn't have to stop you from enjoying the space. From a full scale home renovation to some simple and quick fixes, there are many options to help you realize your kitchen's full potential and transform it into a welcoming place where you'll want to spend time.

Size up your space

Before starting any project, big or small, evaluate the space and determine how you want it to work for you. Sometimes solutions for one issue can provide an answer for other challenges. For example, by adding a moveable island to create additional prep space, you've now also got an area for friends and family to gather when you entertain.

Don't forget to consider your long-term goals for your home. Is this a starter home or somewhere you plan to stay and grow in? This can make a difference in the type of projects you want to take on.

Make a plan

When you've decided on the scope of your project, it's time to determine what resources you'll need to make it happen. Online tools like Merillat's Step-By-Step Kitchen Planner can help you get an idea of what elements you're looking for and how they'll work in your space. Talking with a design professional can help you decide if you need additional support or if your project can be completed on your own.

"When faced with a small space, it can be hard to see the design possibilities," says Sarah Reep, director of designer relations and education for Merillat Cabinets. "A professional designer can bring clarity and simplicity to any type of home change. In many cases, their skills and training can help reveal solutions you never even knew existed."

First-time homeowner Zach Kaefring recently remodeled his small kitchen with the help of a professional designer and was surprised at just how functional his tiny space became. "We went from basically nothing to a kitchen full of storage solutions that make the space really work for us," says Kaefring. "Working with our designer helped ensure we had all the components we needed to fit our lifestyle. We used to avoid the kitchen, but now we're in there all the time."

Get organized

If you're remodeling, look for cabinets to help contain clutter and keep countertops clear. Storage solutions such as pull-out spice racks, in-drawer cutting boards, drawer organizers and dividers keep all your cooking utensils out of the way but close at hand, and can make life in the kitchen easier for everyday use and entertaining.

"In the kitchen, especially a small one, every inch counts," says Reep. "Planning smart storage solutions in your cabinetry is a great way to bring style and functionality to even the smallest spaces."

If a few quick fixes are all you can take on, have some fun with it by researching solutions in magazines, on design blogs or even through new resources like Pinterest. Additionally, look for creative ways to make the most of your cabinets and drawers by placing items close to where they'll be used. Have pots and pans, spices and utensils close to the stove. Put storage containers and dishes near the fridge or serving area. Make sure you put your most frequently used items in the most accessible places. This will help you flow through prep and cooking easily, with things placed intuitively throughout the space.

Change the focus

Whether it's an area to display your wine collection with a built-in storage option like those offered by Merillat Cabinets or showing off decorative dishes and family treasures with glass-front cabinetry, drawing attention to items that show your interests and personality will remove the focus from the actual size of your space.

For more design tips and product solutions for kitchens of any size, visit merillat.com.

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