Feature article

Larger than life: The heart and soul of small kitchen design

Living in smaller spaces is a reality for many. With this comes the need for clever design solutions.

Last updated: 1 February 2024

When it comes to designing and renovating compact kitchens, the options are limited only by the imagination. We’ve rounded up five small kitchen designs that deliver inspirational results.

A compact rural kitchen of tactility and striking simplicity

Situated on a ridgeline on the edge of Pukenui Forest in Northland, this home by Toby Chapman-Smith and Benjamin Connor, has a bunker-like sense of solidity. On the western edge of the open-plan living area, the kitchen is defined by its use of natural timber cabinetry, and a matte black kitchen island. A space of refined simplicity, this compact design delivers a joyous kitchen.

In a bungalow, a small kitchen renovation delivers a calm and warm aesthetic

In search for an ‘analogue’ kitchen, a space that felt like a favourite piece of furniture, the homeowners of this modest two-bedroom bungalow called Cheshire Architects to design a space that was both functional and restful. The result is a modern little box in timber and black stone.

This small kitchen by Cheshire Architects can open to the outdoors, allowing for more guests when required. Image: Sam Hartnett

A tiny kitchen in a cabin among the trees of Punakaiki Forest

Here, within a tiny home in the South Island’s Punakaiki Forest, Upoko Architects sought inspiration from the surrounding environs. The exterior is clad in a dark brown, echoing the colour of the bark on the nikau, but the interior glows in oiled timbers. The cabin has a small log burner, also used for cooking, at its centre that creates a feeling of camping out in a clearing, albeit very comfortably.

In this tiny kitchen, space is maximised with deep benches allowing guests to congregate at the kitchen bar. Image: David Straight

In a bunker-like bach, this compact kitchen design references days gone by

At the bottom of the South Island, this kitchen by architect Stacey Farrell was designed as an ode to the traditional bach. The black benchtop meets a simple subway-tiled splashback, while the cabinetry has a velveteen feel in a matte finish. Brass tapware and a vintage-style fridge complete the rustic appeal of the space, while modern additions in lighting and a ping-pong table, which doubles as a dining table, creates a laid-back yet luxurious aesthetic.

This small kitchen in black and timber is a source of refuge from the harsh surroundings. Image: Simon Devitt

Within an unassuming home in Central Otago, a small kitchen delivers performance on a large scale

In a showcase for achieving high performance on a budget, and a demonstration of finding comfort on a small scale, this Central Otago home was designed with a simple plan to reduce cost and allow for the majority of the budget to spill into high-quality materials.

This small, high-performing kitchen in Central Otago creates a sense of warmth with the use of natural materials. Image: Andrew Urquhart

Taking its cues from DOC huts, natural materials were chosen; corrugate on the exterior and ply for the interior. The kitchen, at the edge of the home, maximises space with open shelving, integrated appliances and a simple but tactile palette.

Cover image by Hamish McLaren

This article was originally published on homemagazine.nz


Clare Chapman
Clare Chapman
Editor in Chief, HOME - homemagazine.nz

Clare has spent the last 16 years working across Australasia as a journalist, editor and writer. Her work has appeared in books and publications around the world. Clare has led editorial teams for numerous architecture and design publications. In 2020, she was appointed Editor in Chief of HOME magazine, before taking the helm as publisher in 2023.