Learn how one design pro made the most of her tiny kitchen. You’ll want to steal these tips no matter what square footage you’re working with.

Lucy M. Clark
June 22, 2020
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Joanna Hawley

When Joanna Hawley, the DIY- and-home-decor blogger behind Jojotastic, first toured the Seattle home she now shares with her husband, Sean, the real estate agent said: “Just wait until you see the kitchen. It’s huge!” At just 150 square feet, her kitchen, Hawley agrees, is “shockingly big”—in relation to the rest of the 1908 bungalow, which totals just 640 square feet. After finishing a complete makeover last June, she walked away with the lessons that can help any kitchen feel spacious.

6 Ways to Think Big

These six tips will help you make the most of any space. Check out these ways to maximize your space and the after picture from Joanna's renovation.

Ditch excess gadgets

“Evaluate the cooking tools and utensils that you consider must-haves,” says Joanna Hawley. “I did a big purging process—like, do we really need four pie plates?—before the design took form. It helped me fully understand what needed storage.”

Cut counter clutter

“Having clear counters really helps your space feel visually bigger,” she says. “When I planned my kitchen, I made sure there was a spot for literally everything to be put away.”

Try the “tuxedo look"

“I love doing a darker lower cabinet to help the space feel bigger,” says Hawley. “When you think about how your eye typically sees the world, the darker colors, like the soil of the Earth, are usually at the bottom and light blue of the sky is at the top—so it’s just a natural way to make a space appear open. My friend Sarah Gibson is an interior designer who brought my attention to this ‘tuxedo look’ (white upper cabinets and black lower cabinets). I totally recommend it.”

For reference, here is a picture of her kitchen before the renovation.

Go big—where necessary

“We cook and entertain a lot, which is why we chose full-size appliances, as opposed to smaller, European-style ones,” Hawley says. “We knew we needed the fridge and dishwasher space, and I desperately wanted a five-burner cooktop. Plus, our massive sink allows easy workflow: I prep to the right of it, put our compost bin in it and just brush scraps into the bin.”

Let there be light

“A surprisingly amazing addition was our new window. We replaced our dated one with a bigger, taller window and now the natural light that comes in is incredible,” she says. “And it opens to our deck, so I use it as a pass-through for when we grill and entertain.”

Consider your paint finish

“One of my favorite tricks to make a space look taller is to use flat paint on the ceiling,” says Hawley. “It creates the illusion of space and higher ceilings because it doesn’t reflect as much light as a satin finish. Also, use a lighter color on the ceiling than on the walls.”