The key to any good kitchen design is to keep a triangle in mind. The triangle is comprised of the three main work areas in a kitchen: the sink, the stove and the refrigerator -- and designers have the proportions down to a science. For small kitchens, a U-shaped or galley configuration is usually the most space efficient with the triangle in mind. Galley kitchens are configured in a straight line on both sides of the wall, usually with the sink and fridge on one side and the stove on the other. They're super-efficient and actually preferred by many professional chefs. The only downside is that the aisle down the middle is also the traffic area through the kitchen, so things can get a little congested. If space permits, U-shaped kitchens are ideal for families who spend a lot of time in the kitchen together.
It's important in small kitchens to steer clear of the supersized appliances, and find ones that suit the scale of the room. There are many efficient models out there that were specifically designed to maximize use for small kitchens. This includes countertop appliances, too. If your small kitchen is a galley setup, make sure that appliances are flush with cabinets and counters. This visual trick gives the appearance of a continuous line, which keeps the eye moving forward and makes the space seem larger. To maximize storage, take your cabinets all the way up to the ceiling, and if there's room, invest in a rollaway island. It's great for small kitchens, because you can stow it in the corner when it's not in use. But don't stop there. We've got more storage ideas on the next page.