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Expert Advice

Small-space Style: Expert Tips for Galleys, Tiny Homes, and Other Small Kitchen Layouts


An intimate kitchen can still be beautiful and functional. From galleys to tiny homes, these five small-kitchen tips have you covered.

1. Scale appliances and use multi-function fixtures.

A standard 30- to 36-inch-wide oven and cooktop range can often take up much-needed countertop space. Look for conveniently sized 20- to 24-inch-wide ranges that can slide into the tightest of areas. Some options offer side-opening doors for maximum flexibility.

Cambria Darlington with espresso cabinets in a galley kitchen.

This galley kitchen from Vern Yip features efficient appliances and hardworking Cambria Darlington™ countertops.

Look for space-saving dishwashers. Some are the size of a standard cabinet and come with all the wash cycles and features you need. Opt for slim refrigerator models like this retro-style mint green Smeg for style that’s to scale.

Small space design with Cambria Carrick.

A mint Smeg fridge, gray Cambria Carrick™ countertops, and floor-to-ceiling storage optimize every inch of this small kitchen.

Eliminate bulky storage needs by selecting a sink with an integrated cutting board or colander. (Take a look at Kohler for some stylish options.)

Cambria Skara Brae counterops  paired with wood cabinets.

A sink with integrated cutting board pairs with easy-clean Cambria Skara Brae™ countertops for a sleek prep station in this loft kitchen.

2. Embrace color

Bright hues can infuse energy and bounce light around a room. Consider a light backsplash paired with darker cabinetry or countertops to open up the kitchen.

We love how these small kitchens embrace shades of blue as countertops and cabinets.

Open and airy kitchen with Cambria Parys.

Galley kitchen with blue-gray Cambria Parys™ countertops by Normandy Remodeling. 

Custom mobile tiny home with Cambria Ella countertops.

Traveling tiny home kitchen by Movable Roots featuring Cambria Ella™ countertops

Explore more blue kitchen ideas to suit any space.

Upper and lower cabinetry can vary in color, material, and style. This two-toned kitchen draws the eye upward with marble-like Torquay countertops, backsplash, and white upper cabinets to contrast sage green cabinetry.

Green cabinets paired with brass accents and Cambria Torquay countertops and backsplash.

Two-tone white and sage green cabinets pair with Torquay™ countertops and backsplash in Jaclyn Johnson’s Cali-chic kitchen.

Gather more green kitchen ideas for your perfect palette and find more color tips in 5 Traits of a Well-Designed Kitchen.

Don’t forget about plants and greenery for a fresh pop of color, as in this tiny home kitchen renovation by Tiny Canal Cottage featuring Weybourne Matte countertops.

Cambria Weybourne Matte in a small space kitchen layout.

Renovated tiny home kitchen featuring Cambria Weybourne Matte™

3. Get stylish with storage.

Functional doesn’t mean boring. Open shelving can showcase eye-catching dishware and decor, while expanses of wall can highlight a dazzling backsplash. (Explore quartz backsplashes and tile backsplash ideas.)

Light earth tones paired with Cambria Ella countertops.

This cheery green kitchen from The Happy Tudor features Ella countertops and artfully styled floating shelves.

Blue-green subway tiles paired with Cambria Carrick.

Carrick countertops paired with Mercury Mosaics subway tile and open shelving

Look for alternative storage spaces, such as placing baskets on top of your cabinets.

4. Use countertops as dining space.

Instead of a breakfast nook or kitchen table, add a counter bar with stools. You don’t need an island to achieve this – a peninsula layout or modified galley work well.

Cambria Torquay waterfall countertop on a kitchen peninsula.

An open Torquay waterfall-edge peninsula is the perfect breakfast spot in this small kitchen. Space byMotiani Design. Photo: Tessa Neustadt.

A typical galley kitchen layout features a narrow walkway with cabinets and appliances lining opposite walls. Offering efficiency and utility, it’s perfect for the practical homeowner who separates cooking from socializing. A modified galley layout provides an airier feel and option for added dining space.

Tiny home kitchen design with Cambria Torquay.

An open galley layout offers dining bar functionality in this tiny home kitchen featuring Torquay countertops.

To open up the space, consider replacing one of the runs with a parallel island allowing for flexibility, as in this galley kitchen renovation from Casey Knips. Check with a trusted contractor to see if it’s feasible for your home.

Cambria Newport paired with marble backsplash tile.

Modified galley kitchen renovation featuring Cambria Newport™ countertops and breakfast nook.

5. Let the light in.

A small kitchen doesn’t mean you should scale back your lighting. Make your spaces bright and practical with a mix of ambient lighting, task lighting, and accent lighting. Ambient lighting is the general lighting in a room diffused to create a certain mood or ambiance. Task lighting illuminates your kitchen work surfaces while accent lighting highlights certain items, such as a kitchen cabinet or shelf.

Clutter-free kitchen design with Cambria Ella countertops.

A mix of light fixtures offer functional beauty in this small kitchen renovation featuring Ella Matte™ countertops.

Show off your small-space style

Ready to plan your small kitchen remodel or update? Bring your vision to life by crafting a moodboard of your selections. Order a sample of your favorite Cambria designs for your perfect countertop fit. Need some more inspo as a starting point? Here are some of our top picks for a small kitchen with midcentury modern flair.

Mid Century Modern mood board with Cambria Darlington.
Complement Darlington countertops with these pairing ideas.

Share your kitchen project with us on social media using the hashtag #MyCambria. We can’t wait to see your small-space style!