Apartment and condo living, especially in a city like Chicago, can be tight. Many older walk-up buildings are narrow, leaving you with spacial limitations when wanting to design your dream kitchen. With a little creativity and some clever planning, though, you can still have that kitchen you’ve been longing for. We chat with Sarah Babbitt, a Chicago-based kitchen and bathroom designer, and Dominic Irpino, of IRPINO Construction, to discuss how to make a small kitchen space functional.

Sarah Babbitt – Chicago-based Kitchen & Bathroom Designer:

Sarah’s number one recommendation for a small kitchen is to go with frameless cabinets over framed ones. “Frameless cabinets tend to be more expensive, but you get slightly more storage room than with framed cabinets. Now, we’re only talking about maybe one inch more space per cabinet when it’s frameless, but every inch is helpful, and those inches add up!”

For frameless cabinet manufacturers, Sarah recommends Ultracraft and Eclipse.

Another thing Sarah suggests to her clients is to go with a single-bowl sink because they are more useful than a double-bowl. With a single bowl, you can most likely use a 30-inch wide sink base (versus the standard 36 inches), and if the client is happy to go with even a slightly smaller sink, then we’re able to do a smaller sink cabinet. “Sink cabinets tend to be a dead zone in terms of storage space due to the plumbing supplies underneath, so going with a smaller sink base cabinet allows us to do bigger cabinets elsewhere with more useful storage.”

When it comes to the fridge, Sarah will always do a 24-inch deep cabinet over the fridge (with panels on any open sides), to give the fridge that built-in look. “A deeper cabinet above the fridge is a great place to store the crockpot, a big stockpot, etc… the items that you don’t use all that often but are bulky, so this way they don’t take up the space of your lower cabinets.”

And finally, Sarah’s last piece of advice for how to make a small kitchen space functional is in relation to lower cabinet storage, “I love a mixture of drawers and rollouts, but ultimately it comes down to how people use their kitchen!”

How to make a small kitchen space functional

Dominic Irpino – IRPINO Construction:

Dominic is all about taking advantage of height. “When you have a tight space, you want to take advantage of height so go with floor-to-ceiling cabinets where applicable (i.e.: pantry cabinets).” Standard upper cabinets are 30 inches, but the newest trend is to go with 42 inches, 45 inches, or even taller for upper cabinetry. “Take advantage of the height of your kitchen and that way, you can store seasonal items in the higher cabinets and get a small ladder or stool to reach them.”

A few other suggestions from Dominic on how to make a small kitchen space functional:

  • If you have a kitchen island or peninsula, extend the countertop out a few inches to create additional space for seating.
  • You can’t put cabinets everywhere, so mix it up with some shelving.
  • Take advantage of extra space in corner cabinets by adding a Lazy Susan.
  • Add a backsplash – this is much more durable and easy to clean than a bare wall!
home renovation timeline Chicago condo

Are you looking to remodel your Chicago kitchen? IRPINO Construction is your one-stop shop for all your kitchen remodeling needs in Chicago. Our experienced team is ready to transform your space into the kitchen of your dreams!

Let’s get talking – contact us now or by calling (773) 525-7345.