30 Clever Kitchen Ideas to Make Your Space Work Harder

a room full of colourful kitchen ideas
(Image credit: Olive & Barr)

The best kitchen ideas aren't always the simplest, and while we cover all the need-to-know essentials about kitchen design here at Homebuilding & Renovating, sometimes you need to look outside of the box too to get the most from your space. 

From creative layout concepts, exceptional real life design inspiration and new innovations in storage and appliances, we've pulled together 30 of our favourite ideas for the kitchen right now to inspire your project. 

1. Unusual Material Finishes Serve up Plenty of New Kitchen Ideas

microcement wall kitchen ideas

(Image credit: Cuisinart)

Keep an eye out for new and innovative kitchen ideas when researching your new space. Microcement set to be huge kitchen trends for 2022 that also provide a useful waterproof surface that makes it great used around sinks, streamlining fussy details like upstands and tiled splashbacks. 

2. Repaint a Good Quality Kitchen 

a yellow painted kitchen

British Standard by Plain English cupboards come in a range of standard sizes, starting at £535. An average sized kitchen comes in at around £8,000. (Image credit: British Standard by Plain English)

If you've invested in a good quality timber kitchen, painting kitchen cabinets is a brilliant idea to give an existing kitchen a new lease of life. 

You can be as creative and colourful as you like with your new design, and you might feel a little more inspired to opt for a bold colour, as blogger Jacqueline Mercer did when choosing to repaint her British Standard by Plain English kitchen in this beautiful sunshine yellow. 

(MORE: Our Pick of the Best Kitchen Cabinet Paint)

3. Or why not get Creative with Your Painted Kitchen Ideas?

a colourful kitchen idea from woodworks brighton

(Image credit: WoodWorks Brighton)

You could also look into bespoke kitchen designs that incorporate creative painted designs too. This kitchen by Wood Works Brighton is a good example of how paint can be used to create a space with real wow-factor. 

4. Add Texture with 3D Kitchen Tiles 

a pink and blue kitchen idea with 3d tiles

(Image credit: Used Kitchen Exchange)

When it comes to kitchen tiles, often you can't beat a classic style. The likes of a simple metro tile won't date and will look great for a long time. However, if you're more interested in putting your personality into your kitchen, your tile choice is a great place to get creative. 

Think about adding texture to your kitchen with tiles with more of a 3D quality. There are many styles available, from handmade tiles that will create texture through their non-uniformity to modern style designs, such as these sculptural white tiles used in this second hand kitchen, re-formatted for this modern home by Used Kitchen Exchange. 

5. Mirrored Splashbacks are one of our Favourite Kitchen Ideas

a kitchen idea with an antique mirrored splashback

(Image credit: Martin Moore)

Antiqued mirror is a brilliant kitchen splashback idea. Not only does it bounce light around the room and create the illusion that your kitchen is actually bigger than it is, but you'll also find it makes facing the wall when using the hob a bit more tolerable, as you can keep an eye on what's happening the background. 

But why antiqued mirror? While plain mirrored splashbacks do exist, they're a pain to clean and the distressed effect of antiqued mirror tiles or panels can hide splashes of oil and grease better until it's time to give the splashback a good clean. 

6. A Stylish Partition for a Broken Plan Kitchen Idea 

a kitchen idea with a partition to create a broken plan scheme

(Image credit: Schmidt Kitchens)

Open plan kitchens are a huge trend, but there are benefits to creating some separation between a kitchen and the rest of your space, whether that's the noise of dishwashers, washing machines or extraction, or keeping cooking smells from drifting throughout the house. 

While there are ways to combat this, a broken plan scheme is a good idea to consider. Think about creating a partition between the kitchen and the rest of the place that still preserves the open sightlines, helping each space feel bigger and brighter. This clever partition wall, teamed with Schmidt's Art Deco kitchen, creates a brilliant detail that lends extra ambience to the interior design. 

7. An L-Shaped Island Creates a Useful Layout

a kitchen idea with an l-shaped island

(Image credit: Herringbone Kitchens)

An L-shaped island is a great layout idea for a large, boxy room, helping to create some flow to movement around the space. 

Staggering the heights of the worktop is often used to help differentiate different spaces for different purposes, but in this Herringbone Kitchen, monolithic quartz worktops wrap the entire island, highlighting the shape and creating a bold feature of it. 

 8. Go Bold With This One Colour Kitchen Idea 

a blue bespoke kitchen designed by martin moore

(Image credit: Martin Moore)

Considering a kitchen feature wall? This idea using one colour to unite cabinetry and doors on one side of the room is a great way to streamline the design of a space and reduce visual clutter. What's more, this design by Martin Moore in a deep, rich blue is only given more depth thanks to the detailing of the Shaker style doors. 

9. Add Pattern With This Bold Kitchen Sink Idea 

a printed kitchen sink idea from shaws of darwen

(Image credit: Shaws of Darwen)

Choosing the best kitchen sink for your scheme is an important part of the overall design, but there are more styles than ever before to choose from, including some exciting, innovative designs. 

From colourful sinks to sinks printed with stylish designs, such as this Wild Grass print from Shaws of Darwen, going bold with your sink choice offers another way to bring an interesting focal point to your kitchen design. 

10. Try Modern Mosaic Tiles in the Kitchen

porcelain tiles used on the walls and floor of a kitchen

(Image credit: Mandarin Stone)

Mosaic tiles have a rap for being a bit naff, having fallen out of fashion back in the noughties. However, there are new styles of mosaic tiles looking to shed this reputation, bringing a modern edge that's perfect for kitchen splashbacks. 

These Iggy porcelain mosaic tiles used to the ceiling create a striking look, and by flipping the common contrast of dark cabinets and light tiles, this kitchen design is given an unusual, yet stylish quality. 

11. Create a Minimal Design with a ‘Hidden Kitchen’

a hidden kitchen design

(Image credit: Life Kitchens)

When it comes to open plan living, kitchen styles that don't look so much like kitchens are a big trend. One way that this can be achieved is the hidden, or 'invisible', kitchen. 

This style sees the majority of the kitchen hidden away behind pocket doors, meaning that when the kitchen is not in use, it can be tucked away out of sight. 

Team this with sleek handleless kitchen doors and minimalistic design choices, and you have a low impact kitchen that fades into the background of an open plan space. 

12. Hide Doorways in Kitchen Cabinetry With This Genius Idea

a kitchen idea with a utility room hidden behind cabinetry doors

(Image credit: The Myers Touch)

This clever design trick might be a bit of a novelty, but it's also a smart idea for streamlining your kitchen design where you would otherwise have internal doors leading to other rooms. This works especially well for rooms connected to the kitchen such as a pantry or utility room, as in this clever, modern kitchen design by The Myers Touch

Instead, hiding a doorway behind your cabinetry means you can keep a run of units uninterrupted. Pocket doors are a good idea too, meaning you can keep the doors open when needed without getting in the way while using your kitchen.  

13. Make an Interesting Kitchen Island the Focal Idea of Your Kitchen 

a sculptural kitchen island idea

(Image credit: Wren Kitchens)

Designing a kitchen island is often focused on how you're going to use it, but how about this idea to create a bold, sculptural kitchen island the star of the show. This design from Wren Kitchens could be created bespoke with a worktop material, or with a stone cladding. However, you may want to try incorporate breakfast bar seating and storage to ensure it's still as functional as possible. 

(MORE: Kitchen Island Ideas)

14. Use Freestanding Furniture for a Characterful Island

a kitchen idea with furniture used for an island

(Image credit: deVOL)

A kitchen island doesn't necessarily need to be made from kitchen units. Freestanding kitchen islands can add charm and character to your space, introducing a slightly different style or design detail that helps to punctuate your interior scheme. 

This kitchen created by deVOL for the founders of House of Hackney features the kitchen brand's new Dairy Table, a handsome, marble-topped piece inspired by Victorian furniture. 

15. Create a Double Island in Your Kitchen

a kitchen with a double island idea

(Image credit: Stone and Ceramic Warehouse)

If you have a large kitchen space to fill, a double kitchen island offers copious amounts of work surface space for a super functional kitchen. Consider different kitchen layout ideas when choosing a double island, separating functional areas from social spaces while maintaining your kitchen's core work triangle between the fridge, hob/oven and sink. 

16. This Corner Pantry Idea Makes the Most of a Small Space

corner pantry ideas

(Image credit: Herringbone Kitchens)

There are so many pantry ideas around to create a standalone larder for storing food in your kitchen, but we particularly love this clever corner design that makes a lot of sense. Located in a corner where having a door on either side would cause access issues, a corner door frees this pantry of unnecessary bulk while also making sure it's easy to access when cooking. 

17. Designing a Kitchen Island Over a Split Level

a kitchen with an island over two levels

(Image credit: Harvey Jones)

18. A Clever Idea to Save Space in a Small Kitchen 

a small galley kitchen idea with contoured work surfaces

(Image credit: Life Kitchens)

With space tight in the galley created in this kitchen layout, Life Kitchens used a clever small kitchen idea to trade off work surface for more floor space. By stepping the cabinets and worktops on the wall side, there remains room enough for the hob, while still retaining smaller, but still useful, pockets of worktop on either side. 

19. Get Creative When Heating a Kitchen

skirting heating can be used in heating a kitchen

This kitchen features a discrete skirting heating system. (Image credit: Discrete Heating)

Heating a kitchen can be tricky if you don't opt for underfloor heating, however this can be difficult and expensive to retrofit. In a small space, you might find yourself without the wall space for a traditional radiator too — so what are your options? 

Considering alternative methods for heating. Infrared heating panels can be installed on ceilings and be almost completely unnoticeable, while discrete skirting board heaters are also effective for a space like a kitchen. 

20. Banquette Seating is a Great Idea for a Kitchen

a kitchen idea with banquette seating

(Image credit: Harvey Jones)

Built-in, or banquette, seating works wonders in a kitchen of any size, and really helps to make the social aspect of the space the heart of the design. There are plenty of amazing ways to incorporate banquette seating into a space, but how about this idea from Harvey Jones, which sees worktops run around the entire perimeter of a kitchen island/banquette seating area?

21. A Statement Raw Edge Breakfast Bar

a raw edge timber breakfast bar kitchen idea

(Image credit: Scavolini)

Contrasting worktop materials are nothing new, but this idea for a breakfast bar in this Scavolini kitchen really caught our eye. Retaining the raw edge of the timber creates a dramatic effect, as well as softening the otherwise quite industrial mix of exposed brick, steel frames and fluted glass. 

(MORE: Check out our Best Wooden Kitchen Ideas)

22. Create a Cut Out in a Handleless Kitchen 

a handleless kitchen idea with a cut out section

(Image credit: WoodWorks Brighton)

Handleless kitchens look great when used in floor-to-ceiling banks, often looking more like interesting wall cladding in appearance than a functional kitchen. However, a complete wall of cabinetry can feel a bit flat, so try this kitchen idea to incorporate some open storage for your space. 

A simple horizontal insert in the kitchen units, lined in a contrast material, can break up the expanse of cabinets and offer a space for items that are useful to have close at hand. 

23. Create Hanging Storage for Wine Glasses

a kitchen idea with hanging glass storage

(Image credit: Scavolini)

Wine glasses are one of the most difficult things to store in a kitchen. Top heavy and wide, they can eat up valuable storage space in cupboards, and leaving them on open shelving means you'll have to dust them before you use them.

This idea for bar-inspired hanging glass storage is actually very usually, and as this Scavolini kitchen goes to show, surprisingly stylish and unobtrusive. 

24. Get Specific When Choosing Built-in Storage 

a kitchen larger with lots of storage ideas

(Image credit: Symphony Group)

Versatile storage solutions is a good choice for many people, but if you're very clear on how you use your kitchen and what each space will be used for, then many modern kitchen makers offer clever storage solutions.  

Inside this larder created by the Symphony Group alone there's plenty of varied kitchen storage ideas. From wine glass and bottle storage to vegetable drawers and spice racks, your storage can be as broad or specific as you desire. 

25. Go Heavy With Drawer Storage in Your Kitchen 

a pink kitchen with an island

British Standard by Plain English cupboards come in a range of standard sizes, starting at £535. (Image credit: British Standard)

When it comes to your kitchen units, drawers offer a lot of of versatility for use in the base cabinets. They're better than cupboard for keeping cookware, dishes, pots and pans, as well as plates, especially if you opt for a pegboard style drawer system. 

26. Choose a Bold Worktop Idea for Your Kitchen

a classic kitchen with a bold worktop design

(Image credit: Martin Moore)

Even the most traditional of kitchen styles in the most neutral of colours can be given some star power with the choice of worktop. This stylish, highly patterned marble adds a dramatic flourish to this Martin Moore kitchen, while still retaining its classic good looks.  

27. This Suspended Island Worktop Creates More Open Storage

a kitchen island idea with a floating worktop

(Image credit: WoodWorks Brighton )

This creative design for a kitchen island is a super effective way of making use of its storage space. Not only does it offer some open storage, effectively increasing your island surface space, but it also helps to break up the block-y nature of a kitchen island, creating a less monolithic silhouette that helps the kitchen feel bigger. 

28. Create a Floating Breakfast Bar With This Genius Kitchen Idea

a kitchen idea with a floating worktop

(Image credit: Francesca’s Paints)

The beautiful walls painted in Francesca's Paints' Moss colour isn't the only showstopper in this kitchen design by interior designers Retrouvius. An overhang of worktop has been fitted with a transparent support (glass or Perspex could potentially be used) to create the effect of a floating breakfast bar. 

29. Incorporate Appliances Into Your Kitchen Island 

a kitchen island idea with an appliance in the island

(Image credit: Eggersman)

Have you ever considered placing appliances on your kitchen island? This can be a helpful way to improve your kitchen's flow and set up an easier to navigate kitchen work triangle. 

However, an island is also a good spot for a drinks cabinet, such as a wine fridge. In this design by Eggersman, the wine fridge is located directly next to the dining table, making grabbing another bottle to serve with dinner a quick and easy task. 

30.  Create a Drinks Sink for a Kitchen Bar

a kitchen with a bar and small drinks sink

(Image credit: CRL Stone)

A bar is a fun inclusion in a kitchen design, especially when located in the social side of an open plan kitchen design. To make it easy to use without disturbing the cook in the kitchen, consider a separate sink for your bar area. In this design which uses CRL Stone Quartz work surfaces, this mini sink trough is the perfect size to meet the needs of your drinks area. 

Hugh Metcalf

Hugh is Deputy Editor of sister title Livingetc.com and former Digital Editor of homebuilding.co.uk. He has worked on a range of home, design and property magazines, including Grand Designs, Essential Kitchens, Bathrooms, Bedrooms and Good Homes. Hugh has developed a passion for modern architecture and green homes, and moonlights as an interior designer, having designed and managed projects ranging from single rooms to whole house renovations and large extensions. He's currently renovating his own Victorian terrace in Essex, DIYing as much of the work as possible. He's recently finished his kitchen renovation, which involved knocking through walls, and landscaping a courtyard garden, and is currently working on a bathroom renovation.