11 Small Kitchen Extension Ideas That Make a Big Impact

a small kitchen extension idea to extend a gallery kitchen
(Image credit: French + Tye for MW Architects)

With these small kitchen extension ideas, you'll quickly discover that when it comes to extending your kitchen, it's the quality of the space added, not the quantity. 

Once a small, but functional room in the house, the desire for larger kitchens in which the family can gather has become the norm in recent years, giving way to a huge growth in kitchen extensions of all shapes and sizes. However, just because you don't have a huge amount of room (or budget) to extend, doesn't mean it's not a worthwhile consideration, if you add it in the right places. 

Small kitchen extension ideas that prioritise adding light, height, a connection to the garden and creating a multi-functional space will transform your relationship with the kitchen, even if you're only adding a few square metres. 

Explore 11 small kitchen extension ideas (and the real homes that have put them into practice) below and take inspiration for a small but perfectly formed project of your own. 

1. Make Use of a Side Return for a Small but Effective Kitchen Extension

a small kitchen extension idea that added just 5 m2

This small kitchen side return extension idea by Eckford Chong added just 5 m2 to the kitchen's footprint.  (Image credit: Chris Snook)

Side returns tend to be underutilised spaces in terraced or semi-detached properties, so extending out into one is a good way to add extra room into your kitchen without losing valuable garden space. While a side return extension may only add as little as 3 or 4 square metres to your kitchen, the effect will be transformative, providing a better layout and the possibility to add a dining area and glazing to bring in more natural light. 

2. Or Create a Small Kitchen Extension to the Rear of Your Home 

a small kitchen extension idea where extending in a side return is not possible

When Matthew Wood of MW Architects looked to extend his home, extending into the side return was constrained by the position and width of the house, which tightly abuts the neighbour's property and already receives limited light, as the back of the house faces north. A rear extension offered the extra kitchen and dining space required.  (Image credit: French + Tye)

Where a side return extension isn't viable, a small kitchen extension to the rear can still create the extra space required to increase your kitchen's practicality significantly, or alternatively add a living or dining space. 

In some properties, a rear extension is the smart choice, and you have your choice of style, from flat roofed extensions to orangeries, depending on the needs and layout of the proposed new kitchen. 

(MORE: Kitchen Layout Ideas)

In terraced properties with galley kitchens, by extending to the rear and not the side, you may be lengthening the already long and narrow proportions of the room, but a good design will help your galley become more usable and allow space for dining.  

3. Design a Simple and Sympathetic Small Kitchen Extension

a small and sympathetic side return kitchen extension

For this side return extension by Syte Architects, a simple palette of materials including glass and a carefully matched brick makes the new intervention seem as thought it's always been there.  (Image credit: James Morris)

One approach when designing a small kitchen extension is to match materials to mitigate its visual impact on the existing house. Finding reclaimed bricks that match perfectly is difficult but can be done, while there are also options such as brick tinting that can help unify a new extension with this existing house. 

This is an option that is more likely to work with a small extension than a larger kitchen extension, as the amount of materials used will be minimal, especially if the design incorporates large expanses of glazing, so any small variations in finish will be less noticeable. 

4. Or Create a Bold New Look for Your Kitchen Extension

a bold, but small colourful side return kitchen extension to the rear of a property

This half size side return extension by Alexander Owen Architecture set the tone for the rear of the property with its strong, graphic curves.  (Image credit: French + Tye / DMI Awards)

On the other end of the spectrum, even a small extension can be used to add impact to the design of your property. Bold small kitchen extension ideas could be limited to just the new volume of the extension, adding a contrasting material or colour to the existing house, or alternatively, the whole rear of the property could be altered to engage with the new extension. 

(MORE: Radical Extension Ideas)

5. Add Rooflights to a Small Kitchen Extension

a small kitchen extension idea with large glazed roof lights

Roof glazing will need to be used with greater consideration in south-facing kitchens to avoid overheating.  (Image credit: Neptune)

Extending a kitchen out from under the second storey, even a small amount, offers the opportunity to install rooflights or a roof lantern, bringing valuable light into your kitchen. 

North-facing kitchens are great candidates for using a serious amount of glazing, whether for a side return or rear extension, as they don't run the risk of overheating when the sun does come out and suffer from lower amounts of natural light than other facings. 

6. Design a Pitched Roof into Your Small Kitchen Extension

a small kitchen extension idea, using a pitched roof in a side return extension

Eckford Chong Architects created a curved transition between the original roof and the pitched roof of the small side return kitchen extension.  (Image credit: Chris Snook)

When adding a small kitchen extension, consider the idea of a pitched roof in your design. While flat roof extensions will unify the space more when looking at it from the inside, a pitched roof is a great opportunity to increase the ceiling height and sense of space your kitchen extension has. 

7. Consider Orangeries and Conservatories to Extend a Small Kitchen

a small orangerie kitchen extension has transformed the use of this galley kitchen

This compact galley kitchen from Neptune is complimented by a light-filled orangery, adding a dining and casual sitting space into the design mix.  (Image credit: Neptune)

When extending a small kitchen to add a dining or living space, an orangery or conservatory is an idea to explore that will bring plenty of natural light into your home. 

However, a conservatory should be carefully specified and positioned to ensure your space doesn't overheat in summer or leak too much heat during the winter months. 

8. Create Room for a Kitchen Island in a Small Extension

small side return extension idea

Though this side return extension by Syte Architects only added 7 m2 to the kitchen, it allowed for a kitchen island, transforming how the owners used the space.  (Image credit: Syte Architects / James Morris)

If a sociable kitchen is top of your wish list, but size is holding you back, prioritise a design that allows for a kitchen island, even a small one, to be added into the space and incorporate bar stool seating. This will create a space for casual dining, homework and entertaining while cooking. 

In a larger kitchen, you may include a dining table too, but for a smaller space, consider freestanding storage or a sofa to round out your small kitchen extension. 

9. Open Up To Create a 'View Through' to Your Garden 

view through a small kitchen extension

By moving the dining table into the small rear extension, MW Architects opened up a clear path and line of sight through to the garden in this small London terrace.  (Image credit: French + Tye)

While undertaking the work for a small kitchen extension, incorporate ideas such as large glazed patio doors and picture windows into your design to create a better connection with the garden. 

While you're at it, consider if your small extension will allow you to create a 'view through' from other rooms in your home, such as the living room or even the hallway, so views to the garden can be enjoyed from here too. This may require additional work, such as knocking down internal walls

10. Banquette Seating is a Clever Idea for Small Kitchen Extensions

a small kitchen extension idea for built-in seating

Alexander Owen Architecture's creative side return extension provided just enough room to fit a small banquette seat, meaning that kitchen can now provide a dining area too.  (Image credit: French + Tye)

Built-in or banquette seating is an effective space-saver in a tight kitchen, where chairs would feel like a squeeze and look cramped. When only extending your kitchen by a few metres, banquette seating can make the difference between having a dining table in your space or not. 

11. Add a Glass Box to Extend Your Kitchen Space

a small box window kitchen extension idea

This small glass box extension adds essential kitchen space where it counts.  (Image credit: IQ Glass)

Small glazed extensions are a great way to add interest but also space to a kitchen, while flooding the area with natural light. Box windows are often used to create window seats to add a casual seating, but a tiny glass box extension like this one from IQ Glass adds valuable space to the kitchen, while adding some architectural interest too. 

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.