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5 Things You Didn’t Expect to Work in a Small HDB Kitchen

We all know HDB kitchens; their (typically) cramped quarters are the bane of our existence, particularly if you tend to spend a lot of time in them. However, a small square footage shouldn’t mean you have to forgo things that would otherwise be commonplace in bigger kitchens. We list five of them here, showing you just how they can work even in a tiny cooking space. With these solutions, there’s really no need to #KitchenEnvy someone else’s.


1. Kitchen Island

An island in our kitchen is a marker of a kitchen that well, made it. And everyone wants to own one. Even if you don’t need that extra prep space, an island is perfect for hosting and entertaining, for supplementary storage and can also serve as a casual eating spot – quite the multifunctional addition to the kitchen!

But how does one fit an entire island in a small HDB kitchen? Here are some ways to do so:

In a single wall kitchen

An island can work in a narrow, galley kitchen layout. But the key is to keeping your kitchen to a single wall and opening up the space by adopting an open plan. Incorporating an island gives you a wonderful opportunity to extend a galley kitchen space.

Design: Fineline Design

In a boxy kitchen

If your HDB kitchen is boxier than narrow, consider going for an L- or U-shaped layout and including an island in the middle. Make sure you can open your cabinets doors with ease and can simultaneously walk in between the island and cabinets.

Design: DB Studio

Use a counter-topped cart

These can be easily bought off the shelf and the ones with castors are perfect if you want an island that can move around the kitchen. They can double up as serving trolleys whenever the occasion calls for it too.

Design: Box.ID Studio


2. Eating Area

The eat-in kitchen is particularly popular with kitchens overseas since they have all the room to spare in their mammoth-sized cooking space to include an extra dining table within. For people in Singapore, well, we’re just content to getting some extra countertop space in the kitchen, thanks.

But if you just want a casual eating space to hang out with guests in the kitchen, or a cosy nook to have lighter meals and snacks in, then you might want to incorporate an eating area within your kitchen. And how will you do it?

Tiered counter

Raise a part of your kitchen counter to include a tiered bar. Not only does this give you a great place to have breakfast, it also helps to visually block out the flurry of kitchen activity away from the communal areas.

Design: The Association

Bottom cabinets begone

Because our HDB kitchens are so small, it’s inevitable that we have to make a few sacrifices if we want to include an eat-in area. One of them is getting rid of bottom cabinet storage. Flush a bar table or a counter table on the wall. Make sure there’s room underneath the table to tuck in your chairs so that they won’t take up unwanted space when not in use.

Design: Style Living Interior

Counter extension

Sometimes propping up a small counter is all you need. This one is made from concrete to match the flooring, and it’s mounted on one side of the wall to serve as a place for morning coffee or light meals.

Design: Reimage Décor

Cabinet pull-out

We like this pull-out table that can be stowed away in the cabinet when not in use. Like the previous example, it serves as a pass-through to make serving meals easier, but it’s also a great option for a kitchen eat-in area.

Design: Hue Concept


3. Dark Cabinets

We predicted that dark kitchens will be trending this year, but can a small kitchen rock this trend? After all, everyone knows that dark colours tend to absorb light and therefore make a space appear smaller. However, it’s totally doable – if you know how to make it work.

As accents

Instead of shrouding your entire kitchen in dark hues, keep the dark colours to accents. Then, keep the rest of your kitchen light and bright. The greater the contrast between the two colours, the better. This still makes your kitchen feel bigger, while turning your dark colours into focal points.

Design: Icon Interior Design

Bottom dark

Because we tend to see what’s immediately in front of us first, keep top cabinets – which are within our immediate vision – a light hue, while reserving dark colours for your bottom cabinets. Lighter top cabinets also tend to create the illusion of a taller ceiling.

Design: FOMA Architects

Glossy black

Consider going for glossy surfaces if you’re thinking of using dark hues. The sheen can help to reflect more light, bouncing them off the walls and cabinets.

Design: Fuse Concept


4. Large appliances and wares

Limited storage and countertop space mean homeowners of small kitchens will find it difficult to find a place to store their appliances and wares. But that doesn’t mean you will need to throw them out; all you need is a little ingenuity when it comes to storing them.

But first, keep them off counters

Take note that you should be keeping your wares and appliances off the countertops, which are already limited in the first place. Cluttering your counters will create a cluttered kitchen. And there’s nothing like a cluttered kitchen to make an already small space look even smaller.

Pot racks

Pots and pans may be necessary but they sure take up lots of space. To free up cabinet storage, you can always install vertical, wall-mount racks that make use of normally dead space. If you prefer to keep your wares inside cabinets, internal cabinet organisation will help to keep things neat. Heavier pots and pans can also be placed on bottom pull-out drawers so that they can be taken out with greater ease.

Design: The Association

Design: Icon Interior Design

Nip and tuck

For everyday appliances, storing them within the cabinets will help to keep your counters free for food prep. Make sure they are placed in an easy-to-reach cupboard. We like open compartments for appliances that we use frequently.

Design: Story of Us

But if you prefer a neater look, keep them inside cabinets but install a mechanism that lets you reach for them easily, such as a lift-up cabinet front that lets you open and close with minimum effort.

Design: Edge Interior

Tip: While savvy storage is fun, it always helps to purchase items you really need and will use more than once, so that you won’t have things lying about that you don’t really use. When it comes to buying appliances, do look out for innovative ones that are multifunctional, so you know you’ll be making use of them.


5. Decorations

Decorating is probably the last thing owners of small kitchens think about. But it shouldn’t be devoid of personality. The trick is to make sure these décor items don’t take up unnecessary space. Here’s how to work decorations in:

Herb garden

Plants are a wonderful way to enliven a kitchen. Grow herbs, and they can also function as a mini edible garden.

Design: Icon Interior Design

Fancy hardware

Jazz up the kitchen hardware. A great way to do so is to use metals. Think brass handles and knobs or gilded taps. Instant class, and they don’t take up extra space!

Design: Free Space Intent

Material magic

Visually interesting backsplashes or flooring will make all the difference in a small kitchen.

Design: DB Studio

Cabinet appeal

Go beyond the usual flat cabinet fronts and turn them into design elements.

Design: The Local Inn.terior

Is there anything else you would like to see in your petite kitchen? Let us know in the comments below!


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