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Transforming Tight Rental Kitchen Layouts

by | May 30, 2024 | Blog

Home $ Blog $ Transforming Tight Rental Kitchen Layouts

Optimising space is a common problem many landlords face, particularly when it comes to kitchens. As one of the most-used rooms in a home, it stands to reason that tenants will need a practical and functional space to work with. However, just because you’re dealing with a small kitchen doesn’t mean it needs to be a chaotic cooking area.

In fact, with a few innovative strategies, it’s possible to blend style with function even within a tiny space. Read on for our tips on creating a kitchen that’s aesthetically pleasing, workable and makes the best possible use of every inch of available space, without needing to replace the kitchen entirely

Be Smart with Your Storage

Smart storage is one of the easiest ways to transform a small room and the kitchen is no exception. We tend to accumulate a lot of kitchen paraphernalia, from pots and pans to cutlery and storage containers, so having plenty of places to store those items can be incredibly valuable for tenants. A home with ample storage is something every tenant will be looking for, so take a proactive approach and find ways to integrate it into your kitchen design.

Shelving is an obvious choice and can be added to any area, from full-width shelves that span the room to multiple narrow shelving units that make use of nooks and alcoves. But shelves aren’t the only solution. For example, the team at The Brighton Kitchen Company recommend installing swing-out units in hard-to-reach cupboard corners which will make it easier to access and put otherwise unusable space back in action.

Reconfigure Workspaces

One of the most effective ways to open up a cramped rental kitchen is to ditch U-shaped counters in favour of a streamlined, linear workspace. Those bulky L-shaped counters that jut into the room’s negative space can make modest kitchens feel even smaller and tough to navigate.

By reconfiguring your workspace to a single-wall or galley layout with countertops, appliances and cabinets running flush against the walls, you instantly optimise the kitchen’s footprint. With no protruding island to manoeuvre around, tenants can move easily when they’re cooking. This efficient use of perimeter space creates a feeling of expansiveness in even the tiniest of rooms.

This approach may mean sacrificing a bit of counter space, but strategically placing the prep area, sink and range along one wall allows for an intuitive workflow without any awkward corner cabinets. What may be lost in terms of a little extra countertop, your tenants will gain in extra floor space and an easier-to-navigate kitchen.

Hang Items Up

When square footage is scarce, interior designer Katherine Blackler suggests it’s time to think vertically. Don’t let precious wall space go to waste – hanging racks, shelves and hooks can create highly functional storage zones while keeping counters clear. Racks hung on the back of cupboard doors or the side of units, for example, can store utensils, while an artfully placed pegboard adds character to the kitchen while also being a functional place for hanging cutting boards or measuring cups.

For a more streamlined style, mount a few well-placed hooks at the bottom of existing shelving to showcase frequently used cups, cooking utensils or decorative accents without them taking up valuable workspace. Bulky pots and pans can live at head height courtesy of a striking wall-mounted or commercial kitchen-style ceiling rack. This isn’t just practical – it adds character and interest to the space, and also gives tenants the opportunity to showcase their well-loved kitchen items as décor.

Rethink the Norms to Optimise Space

A small kitchen requires innovative thinking in terms of how you can use existing space. For example, if you’re prepared to go beyond décor and make some structural changes to the space, you may want to reorientate the kitchen sink so that it’s turned sideways. This will likely mean the drain isn’t centred, but it will allow for a deeper sink to be installed without using more counter space.

Another option is to use slim gaps between units to install a pull-out pantry cabinet. These streamlined cupboards make use of the depth of cupboard units rather than width, which gives tenants the opportunity to store away cans and cooking ingredients while optimising an area of the kitchen that would otherwise be wasted.

Removing Walls for an Open Concept

For those lucky enough to have a rental layout that offers flexibility in terms of renovations, removing the wall between the kitchen and living room can create an airy, open-concept space. This can maximise both square footage of the property and the flow.

However, this renovation requires careful planning and professional advice – after all, some walls are load bearing and can’t simply be demolished without impacting the structural integrity of the property. Many will also require obtaining official planning permission from your local building authorities before any work can commence.

Of course, open-concept kitchens may not be suitable for all rental properties. If your kitchen is situated in a building with strict noise regulations, or if removing the divide would critically reduce privacy for tenants, this may not be the best solution.

Nevertheless, taking down that superfluous wall can be a game-changing decision in many cases. Suddenly a tiny kitchen opens up into generous living quarters, creating one harmonious space for cooking, entertaining and relaxing. With shared sightlines and easy flow, even the most modest rental can bask in an upscale open-concept ambiance.

Working within a rental’s small limitations requires some ingenuity, but the payoff of a transformed, highly usable kitchen can be immense in terms of efficiency, style and improved day-to-day satisfaction for tenants.

The kitchen is such a well-used and important area of a property that making clever changes to improve its functionality can go a long way to making your rental property more appealing to prospective tenants. So, dream big when it comes to a small-kitchen makeover – with some strategic planning and an eye for space-saving hacks, it is possible to create a beautiful, low-square-footage dream kitchen that far exceeds its humble dimensions.

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Donnell Bailey

Property expert

Donnell is a property expert focusing on the property market, he looks at a combination of legislation, information from property managers, letting agents and market trends to produce information to help landlords.