How To Create The Perfect Small Kitchen: Stage Two.

Hello! Welcome to Stage Two of my blog post about creating the perfect small kitchen. I’m using our design for our coastal deckhouse kitchen by way of illustration for you. As soon as the kitchen is finished I’ll be writing a third blog post about fitting and finishing a kitchen. If you missed Stage One, then catch it here: How To Create The Perfect Small Kitchen: Stage One.

My very much missed peninsula.

So far, we’ve discussed inspiration, general layout and the infamous Golden Triangle. As I hope I have proved, it’s not essential to stick to the rule, as some kitchens, particularly if they are just along one wall, can’t possibly use the triangle layout. It’s more important to walk (I mean literally walk) out your work areas as I’ve said before. Does it flow or does it feel awkward? Imagine yourself taking hot goose fat out of the oven ready to baste your roast potatoes. Where is the most convenient place to set down your roasting dish?

Try to think of all the tasks you will do in the space. You are taking a pan of boiling water from the hob to the sink. How far is the journey? Walk it – I promise it works!

The kitchen at @theharbourdeckhouse is going to be open plan to the dining and living room area, feeling more like a studio. It wasn’t always like that though. Originally, there would have been a wall between the kitchen and the living room, making it feel small and isolated. Luckily for us the wall has already been removed, but that is something you should also consider if there is space in your home.

A computer generated image by Classic Kitchens Direct of our deckhouse kitchen.

If In Doubt Knock It Out!

If you have a small room for your kitchen, what room is next to it? Is it the dining room or a utility space? If the wall isn’t a supporting wall and it’s just a stud wall, then knock that devil down this instant! No, honestly, please do check with a builder first, because if it’s a supporting wall, then you will need a structural engineer and steels will be required to hold up the room above you! I mean it! Don’t just knock it down!

Generally, when the wall in question runs parallel to the floor joists above it is not a load-bearing wall. But if the wall runs perpendicular (at a 90-degree angle) to the joists, there is a good chance that it is load-bearing. However, there are cases where a bearing wall is parallel to the joists.

If it isn’t a supporting wall though, then do give demolition some thought. Removing the wall from the other row of base cupboards can make the space feel much larger even though it’s not. You may not have room for bar stools the other side, but just being able to see over to the dining table instead of looking at a wall will be so beneficial. 

Our kitchen design, helped by Classic Kitchens Direct.

You can see in the drawing above for our deckhouse that we have opted for a galley kitchen, using a peninsula to separate the kitchen from the living room area. We won’t have enough space for bar stools and the peninsula will only be one cupboard unit deep, which is a shame, but you have to work with the space you’ve got.

In between the line of base units against the wall and the peninsula will be a single door going out to the deck, another reason we didn’t want a U-shaped kitchen like the existing one. The picture below shows solid doors, but they will all be glass with black frames. Just so you know, there will be more rustic shelves, beautiful rattan pendant lights over the peninsula and much nicer handles too! The dining table will be a metre round to fit the space and their will be four chairs.

Galley kitchens

If you are following a similar pattern to us and going for a galley kitchen, with or without knocking down walls for an island or peninsula, make sure you put the tallest unit in the corner first. It’s important the space flows with your eyes being led from shallower units up to the taller ones. We have placed our double oven unit there. I’m not a fan of base unit ovens. The older I get, the more I want cooking to be at my level. To me, cooking should be fun, so if actually using your kitchen is a breeze, then it will be more conducive to fun and frolics.

Our kitchen at the rental house.

Next to the tall oven housing we originally placed a 500mm base cupboard, which has now changed to a 600mm three-drawer unit. The drawers are so much more useful and accessible and this unit was actually less expensive than a base cupboard, with bespoke internal drawers.

We desperately wanted a drawer-dishwasher, like the Fisher & Paykal one we had at our last house, but there just isn’t the space. So, we have opted for a base unit integrated mini dishwasher, which is 450mm wide, instead of the standard 600mm. This will require a matching door to be fitted, so it effectively disappears. 

It’s a good idea to place your dishwasher close to the sink unit as the waste pipe will have far less to travel and can connect to the sink waste. We have done this in our design, although, we have now changed the base unit to a 600mm base instead of 500mm, to match the unit the other side of the dishwasher. It’s important to have symmetry wherever you can.

Open Shelving

Above will be two 1.2 metre rustic wooden shelves with black metal supports. Again, I’m not an enormous fan of top level cupboards and much prefer the open shelving idea. When space is at a premium you don’t want to be taking up that space with cupboard walls. Shelving gives you uninterrupted space and it can be fun styling it up. It also tends to mean you buy prettier tableware and glasses because everything is on show!

I don’t agree with the argument that everything gets dusty. If your kitchen is as busy as mine then there won’t be time for things to gather dust. It’s so much easier to grab plates and cups directly from a shelf, rather than having to open a door first. For our purposes as an Airbnb, it also makes it much easier on the holiday makers as they can see where everything is.

We are going to be using something like the open shelving from The Crafty Couple , a husband and wife team who handcraft bespoke furniture here in the U.K. I spotted their incredibly clever rustic shelving on Instagram a while back on Ross and Ian’s kitchen at our1930sfixerupper

Since then I have trawled The Crafty Couple website and found the perfect shelves for our holiday let. They have added holders for wine glasses below the shelf, so every inch of space is used. So clever!

The ingenious rustic shelves from The Crafty Couple.

Drawers Instead of Cupboards

On the peninsula, we have added the all important wine fridge, albeit a small one, closest to the wall (the drawing shows a wine rack) and then two 900mm three drawer units for maximum storage. We have added a chunky end panel and pillars to balance out the symmetry and give the peninsula a luxury feel.

I will never ever go back to baseline cupboards again. Drawers are so much more accessible and you utilise the space better. No more clambering around to try and find that barely used ice-cream maker or that last tin of beans. Drawers are a game changer and something you should definitely convert to. A little note on costs: generally the larger the unit the more you will save. Very small 300 and 400mm units can cost almost as much as the larger ones. Also, the larger units will have more usable space, so if in doubt go large!

Make Them Match

Matching kitchen units sizes and drawer lines is so important as it creates a cohesive, well-designed space. All horizontal drawers should line up. By this I mean if you are incorporating a unit with two deep drawers, then you don’t want to include another unit that shows three drawers. However, you will need a cutlery drawer, which is usually at the top of a unit. This can be cleverly incorporated inside a two-drawer unit by having a hidden drawer inside. In this way, the lines are maintained.

A computer-generated image of our kitchen – notice the obligatory wine!

Island Or Peninsula?

Most small kitchens will not have room for such luxuries unless you are knocking down a wall and utilising the space like we are. However, if there is room, then I’m telling you from experience it’s peninsula all the way! I’ve had many kitchens and the one where we had a real bonafide island was the most annoying! I know that’s going to be a very unpopular thing to say, but I speak as I find.

Islands look so glamorous and really do give that top end look to a space, but they just aren’t that practical and they can drive you to distraction when guests come by! Because you can walk all the way around an island guests tend to find themselves moseying on in where the action is. If you’re the cook then that means the guests are the same side of the island as you. Not that much fun when you’ve got a hot pan in your hands!

Kitchen peninsula in autumn
Our Peninsula in our last home.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being social and I love cooking with friends around, just not right next to me. By creating a barrier at one end of your island so that it becomes a peninsula, you give a very clear directive as to where people should congregate. I’m very happy to chat while I fry, but woe betide the guest who decides to muscle in on my side of the kitchen!

Right, that’s it for now. I’ll be back with Stage Three once we’ve actually built our kitchen! Hopefully not long now. For those of you wanting to know more about larger kitchen spaces, we will soon be completing on the sale of our main home. I will be taking you through the whole process of design, including using our not-yet patented prep/mess kitchen area. Stay tuned!

JP Clark signature
Why not add this post to your Pinterest Page!


  1. Elizabeth Schofield
    February 28, 2021 / 7:55 am

    Love this JP! Trying to convince my hubby to add open shelves!

    • JP Clark
      March 4, 2021 / 3:40 pm

      Fingers crossed he says yes!

  2. February 28, 2021 / 8:37 am

    Really enjoying following the evolution of this project JP.

    • JP Clark
      March 4, 2021 / 3:39 pm

      Thanks so much. So looking forward to showing you more. X

  3. Chriss
    February 28, 2021 / 12:22 pm

    Hello from Southern California!😎Very informative blog. Enjoyed it!!!😍

    • JP Clark
      March 4, 2021 / 3:39 pm

      Hello and thank you so much. Xx

  4. April 5, 2021 / 2:04 am

    This was SO helpful, JP! I’ve remembered the bits about open shelving for a holiday rental so people can see where everything is, and about making drawers line up every since I first read this. Really love your blog, friend!

    • JP Clark
      April 6, 2021 / 12:28 pm

      Thank you Mary that is so kind of you. Glad it was useful. Xxx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Deckhouse - Book Now