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Published: Thursday, May 1, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Design pros tell how to maximize your kitchen

  • Compact European appliances, such as this 24-inch Blomberg refrigerator installed in a former pantry, save space in a small kitchen.

    Washington Post / John McDonnell

    Compact European appliances, such as this 24-inch Blomberg refrigerator installed in a former pantry, save space in a small kitchen.

  • Designer Iantha Carley fit in more cabinets at the far end of this galley kitchen.

    Washington Post / John McDonnell

    Designer Iantha Carley fit in more cabinets at the far end of this galley kitchen.

  • Gray color schemes will dominate in 2014 kitchen design as shown in this 2014 NKBA design winner.

    Jozef Jurcisin / National Kitchen and Bath Association

    Gray color schemes will dominate in 2014 kitchen design as shown in this 2014 NKBA design winner.

  • Pull-out faucets will remain popular this year.

    Joshua Lawrence/National Kitchen and Bath Association

    Pull-out faucets will remain popular this year.

  • This contemporary kitchen won second place in the NKBA design competitionís small-kitchen category.

    Greg Clark / National Kitchen and Bath Association

    This contemporary kitchen won second place in the NKBA design competitionís small-kitchen category.

  • This contemporary kitchen by Tim Scott of XTC Design won third place in the 2014 NKBA small-kitchen category.

    National Kitchen and Bath Association

    This contemporary kitchen by Tim Scott of XTC Design won third place in the 2014 NKBA small-kitchen category.

  • Wood floors remain No. 1 trend for 2014, designers said.

    National Kitchen and Bath Association

    Wood floors remain No. 1 trend for 2014, designers said.

Designer Iantha Carley loves a good challenge, and designing a small kitchen puts her problem-solving skills to the test. "You have to be really creative to make the most out of a tight space that is such an important part of a home," Carley says.
For those looking for inspiration, Carley suggests starting a Pinterest dream kitchen board and creating an "ideabook" from photos on Houzz.com. Include examples for storage, lighting, cabinetry, flooring, countertops, appliances, hardware and accessories.
Here are six of Carley's favorite suggestions for making every inch count:
1. Plan carefully: Creating the best solution for a limited amount of space takes longer than designing a massive trophy kitchen.
Do your homework. Create generous storage by maximizing cabinet possibilities, add interest with custom design details and mix materials and textures.
2. Create a wish list: Knowing you can't have it all, start by writing down everything you've ever dreamed of having, then start eliminating.
It's better to shoot for the moon rather than wish you'd added something when it's too late.
Some goodies: a pot-filler faucet that's mounted on the wall behind a cooktop; pop-up electrical outlet strips that retract into a countertop; pull-out trays for dog food and water bowls built in under cabinets. A pull-out trash can that is built in behind a kitchen cabinet that won't take up valuable floor space.
3. Splurge on appliances: Even if you can't have yards of cabinets or a huge center island, you can add luxury to your tiny kitchen.
Check out European appliance makers, which are always trying to save space while delivering energy savings and knockout style.
4. Heat your floor: You're going to spending a lot of time standing in this room, so why not feel a cozy warmth from the bottom of your feet? Heated floors can be pricey, but with fewer square feet, it's a smaller outlay.
5. Don't clutter up counter space: Workspace is the most valuable real estate in a tiny kitchen. Avoid drilling too many holes in your counter. Skip the built-in soap dispenser and spray hose.
In the galley kitchen Carley designed for Lorena Bow, the only built-in feature around the sink is the garbage disposal button.
6. Avoid pendant lighting: Although the wow factor of hanging artsy lamps is tempting, avoid this trendy choice. Pendant lights, often used in trios, take up lots of visual space.
Recessed lighting and under-cabinet lighting are your best options.
Keep it simple
Simple, clean and minimal is what most homeowners want in 2014, according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association's latest style report.
Here is a roundup of what to expect this year.
1. Style: Contemporary will be the fastest-growing style in 2014, said 62 percent of designers.
2. Color scheme: Nearly three-quarters of respondents said gray will dominate but whites and off-whites will remain popular.
3. Cabinets: Expect darker woods this year. Glass doors will continue to be popular.
4. Countertops: Quartz is topping granite, according to 70 percent of designers.
5. Backsplashes: Glass, already a widely used backsplash material, is expected to be even more popular.
6. Flooring: Wood is expected to continue to be the No. 1 flooring material in 2014. Ceramic or porcelain tile come in second.
7. Sinks: Expect to see more composite granite, a mix of granite stone dust and acrylic resins. Pull-out faucets and touch-activated faucets are in demand.
8. Appliances: The biggest news is microwave drawers, according to designers.
Margaret Ely, The Washington Post

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