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Ways to Make Your Kitchen Look and Feel Bigger

Those who say "good things come in small packages" probably don't have to contend with small-kitchen challenges like crammed cupboards and limited counter space. If your kitchen seems more cramped than convenient these days, it may be time for a shake-up.

Create Space with Light Colors

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Create Space with Light ColorsThe three main design components that determine how spacious a room feels are color, lighting, and the contents of the room. The easiest quick fix, particularly if you're not ready to cut back on your cookware collection or install additional lighting, is repainting. Walls that are dark and bold can make a kitchen feel crowded (or cozy), while, conversely, lighter hues offer an airy feel. Create a sense of openness with antique whites, off-whites, creams, light yellows, or pale shades of gray.

Avoid Strong Visual Contrast

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Once you pick a light color, commit to it. To liven things up, some homeowners make the mistake of incorporating an accent floor—one strong, bold-hued wall in an otherwise light-toned kitchen. In a large kitchen, that can work but in a small kitchen, strong visual contrast creates a feeling of segmentation and restriction. A better way to add a little optical oomph into an otherwise monotone kitchen is to play with the extras. Keep all the walls light and bright.

Accent Lighting

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The human eye is naturally drawn to the highest contrasting point in a room and in a kitchen, that’s usually the top of the cabinets. When shadows create a strong visual line between the cabinets and the ceiling, the kitchen can feel as cramped as it would with a high-contrast accent wall. You can erase or soften those shadows by installing up lighting above the cabinets. It casts a gentle illumination that eases the visual contrast created by shadows and as a result makes the whole room feel more open. Lighting installed beneath upper cabinets and directed onto the countertop works in a similar way.

Find a Place for Everything

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When they're left out on the countertop, cookbooks, spices, and small appliances eat up valuable work space and draw attention to a kitchen's insufficient size. Aside from taller upper cabinets, options like concealed storage racks and pull-out or swing-out shelves maximize storage space behind tidily closed doors. Remember: The less cluttered the kitchen, the larger it will feel.

Reflective Materials

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Shiny surfaces can bounce light and ultimately make any kitchen feel larger. It has a lot to do with the way shiny surfaces pick up and reflect the hues of the walls and cabinets. For example, if you have antique white cabinets, the sheen of stainless steel appliances will reflect some of this off-white hue and amplify the space-enhancing effects of your choice in cabinet color.

Natural Light

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The view from a kitchen window should make the outdoors—be it a deck where you entertain or a large, lush backyard—seem like an extension of the kitchen. Swap out heavy draperies and blinds for sheer curtains or simply a valance, and leave the rest of the window uncovered. The additional natural light will not only visually expand the space, but will also help instill that coveted airiness.

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