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In a narrow kitchen, lighting is everything. A long, narrow kitchen can easily fall foul to dark corners and oppressive shadows, making your kitchen feel even smaller. But with the right lighting solutions, you can easily open up your kitchen and give the illusion of more space.

Natural light

Natural lighting is the best cure for a narrow kitchen, as it helps to bring the outdoors in for a more airy feel. Make sure that any windows you have are unobstructed by cupboards and exchange curtains for blinds that can easily be lifted, and that will expose the full width of the windows.

Narrow Kitchen Natural Light
Instagram: @kitchenscontinental

While an ambitious undertaking, a skylight is a great way to let extra natural light into your kitchen, and is a fantastic feature that gives your kitchen real wow factor.

Artificial light

If natural light is limited, you can use artificial lighting to your advantage. Layering your main overhead lights with smaller statement lamps and shelf lights at different levels helps illuminate lower-level corners that may otherwise be shadowed by units or shelves.

Narrow Kitchens Artificial Light
Instagram: @andersonhomeimprovements

Alternatively, you can use task lighting to illuminate key features in the room, like your main workspace or a breakfast bar.


A narrow galley kitchen usually has two counters running parallel close to each other; they’re going to be a significant part of your kitchen, so you need to choose them carefully.

Keep it light

In a narrow kitchen, dark colours can feel oppressive and make the room seem pokey. A light colour scheme will make the most of the light in the room and give the illusion of space, so a white/cream based palette with pale accents is a great narrow kitchen design idea.

If you do want to introduce some contrasting colours, use the darker colour for your base cabinets and put your light colour on the upper cabinets so that it blends better into the ceiling.

Narrow Kitchens White Counter
Instagram: @ashford_kitchens

Go for gloss

We already know that when it comes to small, narrow kitchens, you want to lighten and brighten wherever possible. Opt for a material like glass, stainless steel or high gloss laminate or composite, which will reflect the light and open up the space.

Narrow Kitchens Gloss Counters
Instagram: @kbkstudio

Keep it clean

Cluttered work surfaces will only serve to shrink the depth of your worktops, and therefore the width of your kitchen, so make sure they’re kept as clear as possible. Choose built-in appliances where possible instead of them sitting on the worktop, and store any unnecessary items like utensils or cooking ingredients away instead of leaving them on the counter.


Don’t ignore the possibilities of the splashback! Gone are the days when splashbacks were purely functional; now they’re an extra chance to create a statement feature and, in your narrow kitchen, every little helps.

A large, reflective splashback that fits neatly along the back of a whole worktop is an additional way to bounce light around the room, and the mirroring effect will make the whole room look bigger.

Narrow Kitchens Splashback

You could also consider a statement splashback; a bold pop of colour in a high gloss material is an exciting touch for a modern kitchen, or add a floral patterned splashback tile to a traditional style narrow kitchen.

Colour schemes

Your colour scheme is always an important decision in any kitchen renovation but, in a slim kitchen, it goes beyond simple aesthetic considerations. Certain colours and palettes are more effective at opening up a small or narrow space, and this is important to bear in mind when decorating your kitchen.


Playing with different shades of grey allows you to mix up your shades without worrying about clashing. Combine mid-grey kitchen units with white countertops, or mix dark grey bottom cabinets with light grey upper cabinets.

Narrow Kitchens Grey
Instagram: @chippendalekitchens

Black and white

White is the best colour for narrow kitchens as it makes the most of the available light and makes the kitchen feel as spacious as possible. But it also has a clean, minimalist quality that pairs well with black; think about breaking up white units with black appliances, or pairing white units with a black gloss countertop.

Narrow Kitchens Black White
Instagram: @shethsinteriors

Cream and wood

Wood paired with cream or ivory can work in either a contemporary or traditional kitchen. Cream units with hardwood worktops will give your kitchen a homey farmhouse look, while light countertops with dark wood base units have a sophisticated, modern feel.

Narrow Kitchens Cream
Instagram: @sharpe_kitchens


For a more playful, retro look, why not introduce some pastel shades? Colour can feel intimidating in a narrow kitchen, but light pastels will keep the room feeling airy and can be easily paired with white or some pops of darker, bolder shades.

Mint green, pale blue or sunny yellow are all great options that can work well on cupboard units or for a fun statement wall.

Narrow Kitchens Pastels
Instagram: @chippendalekitchens


In a narrow kitchen, space is likely limited, but clutter can make your room seem even smaller. You’ll need to get creative with your storage solutions to ensure everything is kept neat and tidy.


Cupboard installation should be approached with care in a narrow kitchen. Top cupboards on both sides of a galley-style kitchen can shrink the width of the space and feel closed-in; consider placing upper cupboard units on just one side of the room, or even just on the bottom units.

Narrow Kitchens Cupboards
Instagram: @thekitchencabinleek

Open shelves

Limiting your cupboards doesn’t have to mean you sacrifice the shelf space completely. Open shelves are a great storage idea for narrow kitchens, giving the illusion of space; a popular approach is to have cupboard on base units and open shelves instead of upper cupboards.

If you don’t want your shelves to be completely open, glass cabinet doors instead of solid material will have a similar effect, and will also enlarge the space by reflecting light.

Just remember you’ll have to keep these shelves tidy and organised! Stacks of crockery can look messy on open shelves; instead, use these areas to store items such as mid-sized appliances, mason jars or spice racks, adding ornamental items such as vases to complete the look.

Narrow Kitchens Open Shelves
Instagram: @mackintoshkitchens

Cupboard tops

If you have top cabinets that don’t reach all the way to the ceiling, you can take advantage of the tops of the units as an extra storage space. While difficult to reach and therefore unsuitable for day-to-day items, they’re perfect for equipment you don’t frequently use.

The tops of your units may still be visible from the ground, so invest in some boxes or wire trays to keep everything organised.

Narrow Kitchens Cupboard Tops
Instagram: @sheratonkitchens

Kitchen trolley

For your everyday cooking utensils and ingredients, a slimline trolley is an invaluable addition to your kitchen. If you’re doing a full renovation you could look at installing a slide out rack directly into your base units; otherwise, a basic wheeled trolley can be just as effective.

You can efficiently store all the basic items you regularly need to hand and keep it close by while cooking. When you’re not using it, a slimline kitchen trolley is compact enough to fit in any space you have leftover.

Breakfast bars

You may assume, with a narrow kitchen, that a dining area is out of our reach. But breakfast bars provide handy eating areas that also act as a social point in your kitchen.

Ledge bar

A fun narrow kitchen idea is to attach a slimline ledge to a section of your wall. Not only does it break up the kitchen units, but it also offers a simple dining space without encroaching too much on the floor space.

Pair with a pair of simple dining stools that can be slid easily underneath the ledge when not being used. You could even add a drawer into the underside of the ledge to provide additional storage space.

Counter overhang

If you have additional space at the end of one of your units, extend your countertop to create a small peninsula where you can add a couple of stools or chairs.

Narrow Kitchens Breakfast Bar
Instagram: @ashford_kitchens

Bear in mind the flow of the room when adding an overhang to ensure you don’t obstruct any walkways, and opt for curved edges to avoid any painful knocks.

Limited space in a narrow kitchen can feel limiting, but it doesn’t need to be! With smart design decisions, you can make the most of every inch of your kitchen, and even make it feel larger by taking advantage of light, materials and colour.