Small House Design Ideas With Open Concept Kitchens And Living Rooms


Picture this: a small house, open concept kitchen and living room, with a cozy bedroom or two and a cute bathroom. It’s all you really need to be happy and there’s a ton of cool ideas for personalizing and decorating it in a way that suits your style. First through let’s talk about some of the more controversial features like the kitchen.

small house open concept kitchen and living room

The standard kitchen size

In order to really determine whether or not your kitchen is small we should talk a bit about the average size of a standard kitchen. How small is a small kitchen anyway? Well, typically these are the dimensions to keep in mind:

  • A small kitchen usually measures up to 70 square feet – which is 6.5 square meters.
  • A mid-size kitchen is somewhere around 100 and 200 square feet – between 9 and 18.5 square meters.
  • A large kitchen is anything bigger than 200 square feet – 18.5 square meters.

Based on these average measurements we can each determine what sort of kitchen we want in our homes. Of course, there’s a few other questions you should first ask yourself such as how many people will be using the kitchen at any time, how often you actually cook, how many appliances you actually need and how you’ll be using the kitchen.

Open vs closed kitchens layout design

Open vs closed kitchens layout designView in gallery

The whole open concept kitchen trend started in the 1990s and is still very popular, particularly in modern and contemporary homes. An open kitchen can be described as a space that’s integrated with the adjacent rooms, usually the living and dining areas. More exactly, an open kitchen doesn’t have walls or dividers on the sides where it connects to another room.

Open kitchens

There’s many advantages to having an open concept kitchen which is why the design is so popular:

  • An open kitchen gets more natural sunlight and better ventilation
  • It’s easier to engage to other people in the adjacent rooms when cooking or spending time in the kitchen – better for bonding, keeping an eye on the kids or socializing with family and guests
  • Opens kitchen look and feel more casual and welcoming compared to the closed ones
  • The open concept design also helps the house as a whole look bigger, more airy and spacious – great for small homes
  • With an open concept design the kitchen decor is put on display and becomes part of the social area

As always, nothing is just rainbows and unicorns. There’s a few disadvantages that you should also keep in mind if you’re considering an open concept kitchen:

  • Open concept kitchens can’t be hidden. In other words, all the mess in the kitchen is put on display for everyone to see. Of course, this is easy to solve by just keeping the kitchen area clean and organized
  • Open kitchens are not soundproof at all – all the noise from the cooking and from all the appliances will be heard from the adjacent rooms. The same goes for all the smells.

Closed kitchens

A closed kitchen is pretty much the opposed of an open one, meaning it’s closed off and isolated from the rest of the house. It doesn’t seamlessly connect to the adjacent rooms and it’s a room of its own in every sense of the way.

Some of the advantages of a closed kitchen design include:

  • A closed kitchen is more formal compared to an open one. This is good if the rest of the house also has a formal air or if you prefer privacy while cooking.
  • Closed kitchens are contained meaning all the smells and noises stay inside and don’t interfere with any of the adjacent rooms, at least not as much as in the case of open concept kitchens.
  • Closed kitchens have more walls which means more surfaces for furniture and accessories and thus more storage and more space for appliances as well.
  • A closed kitchen is not seen by anyone sitting in any of the other rooms so if there’s any mess in here it will remain a secret.
  • At the same time, closed kitchens give you more intimacy and privacy which is good if you’re the type of person who doesn’t like an audience when cooking or enjoys to be focused on what they’re doing without any interference.

Based on these elements, all of the advantages of open kitchens become disadvantages when it comes to closed kitchens. 

The best of both worlds

You might be wondering if there’s any way you could enjoy the advantages of both open and closed kitchens without having to choose one or the other. Well, there is. In fact, there’s multiple design options that sit somewhere in the middle or offer lots of flexibility. For example:

  • Give your kitchen sliding doors so you can have it open whenever you want to but also have the open to close it off
  • Include a seating area in a closed kitchen to give it more of a social feel similar to what open kitchens offer
  • Install a glass partition between the kitchen and the adjacent room to let in some of the light while keeping the sounds and smells contained
  • Close off a section of the kitchen and keep the rest open. Perhaps you’d like to be able to hide the cooking area but let the rest of the kitchen interact with the living room
  • Install powerful vents in your open kitchens so the smells are immediately carried outside instead of spreading through the rest of the house
  • Get some quiet appliances in an open kitchen so there’s no annoying noises disturbing those in the adjacent rooms
  • Raise the kitchen slightly (on a platform for example) to give it a sense of sort of being separate from the rest of the house. This would also mean you have a bit more privacy in the kitchen and you’re not seen by your guests sitting at the dinner table
  • Plan the adjacent spaces so that the seating area positions the guests with their back at the kitchen to give you some privacy while cooking

Open concept kitchen and living room design ideas

An L-shaped corner kitchen

Scandinavian small house open concept kitchen and living roomView in gallery

Here it’s not just the kitchen that’s open concept but pretty much the whole house. To be fair, it’s only a 27 square meter home so getting rid of the walls separating the main rooms was smart in order to gain a bit more usable space. The kitchen sits in one of the corners and is L-shaped which allows it to fit perfectly in here. 

The white cabinets and their fairly symmetrical placement give the room and airy and inviting look. The cabinets also offer sufficient storage for all the kitchen-related items. There’s no upper cabinets and instead the walls are left fairly clean and empty for a sense of space and openness. Found on finn.

The little black kitchen 

View in gallery

View in gallery

White is the go-to color for small spaces but that doesn’t mean anything else is out of the question. In fact, these black kitchen cabinets are a magnificent addition to this 22 square meter apartment. They really help to anchor not just the kitchen but the living room as well which is decorated with lighter shades of gray and little colorful accents.

Although we’re talking about a small and open kitchen, you can see that it sort of has its own nook framed by partial walls on either side. This gives it a sense of privacy without actually turning it into a separate room. Found on finn.

A semi open concept

A semi open conceptView in gallery

A closed kitchen can become open if you remove one or more walls that separate it from the rest of the house. You can also achieve a similar effect with big sliding doors. You can get a sense of what this looks like in this 30 square meter apartment. The kitchen has its own space off the side of the living room but there’s no wall or solid surface sitting between these spaces.

All on one wall

All on one wall - small open floor planView in gallery

Having all the kitchen-related furniture and accessories concentrated on one wall is practical and great if you want to have an open and airy floor plan in general. There’s no furniture sticking out or getting in the way and everything is in plain sight. In this 3 square meter apartment the kitchen is seamlessly integrated into the living area but you don’t really see it when you’re sitting on the sofa because of the way everything is oriented. Found on kvarteretmakleri.

A natural transition

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When it comes to open concept kitchens usually the dining area or the island serve as an intermediary between the kitchen and the living room. This makes the transition between these spaces feel more gradual and natural. In this 36 square meter apartment the kitchen and dining area are a perfect combo. They’re both small and cozy and they fit together like two pieces of a puzzle. Images from svenskamaklarhuset.

Hidden but still open

Hidden but still openView in gallery

Not everyone likes their kitchen to be all out in the open and exposed. Also, some layouts make it difficult to actually have an open concept kitchen when the apartment wasn’t initially designed to function this way. This 37 square meter home sort of offers the best of both worlds. 

The kitchen is small and you can barely see it from the living room especially when you’re sitting down. The kitchen cabinets are all white and placed in the inner corner against a partial interior wall. It gets tons of sunlight from the windows and it transitions into a cozy little dining area quite smoothly.

The kitchen island room divider

The kitchen island room dividerView in gallery

View in gallery

View in gallery

This stylish 35 square meter apartment features the iconic kitchen island room divider. It’s a great way to keep an open concept kitchen but still make it feel like its own space. Also, the island is much more functional than just a simple wall because it gives you additional counter space, it can have built-in appliances and storage space.

A bold pop of color

A bold pop of colorView in gallery

View in gallery

View in gallery

In open concept spaces where the kitchen, dining room and living area are all just one large space the distinction between each of these areas can be done in a few different ways. One option is to use color. Take this small but cozy 33 square meter home for example.

The kitchen cabinets are dark green and stand out against the light grey walls and light-colored flooring. This is also the only green-themed section of the apartment which gives the kitchen its own identity. Similarly, the living room is delineated by a big area rug which visually demarcates it as a separate little space within the context of the larger room.Images from bosthlm.

A distinct kitchen floor design

A distinct kitchen floor design for a small houseView in gallery

Small house living room floor plan divided by kitchenView in gallery

View in gallery

Speaking of subtle ways to delineate an open concept kitchen from the rest of the floor space, using a different floor design for this area is also a very effective option. A great example is this 34 square meter apartment where the kitchen and living area are seamlessly connected.

The primary color of the apartment is white and the kitchen cabinets and the backsplash suit this theme. There’s a small kitchen island that can also be used as a bar and/or dining setup which acts as a visual separator between these spaces but, more importantly, the kitchen floor is covered in black and white tiles while the rest is herringbone wood.

Light, bright and cozy

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View in gallery

The kitchen can also just blend in with the rest of the open floor plan, like in the case of this cozy 33 square meter apartment. The gray kitchen cabinets match the rest of the furniture in the living room and the sleeping area and the backsplash has this really cool brick pattern design which gives the kitchen a lot of warmth. The lighting is really nice here as well. 

Minimalist with a bold floor design

Minimalist with a bold floor designView in gallery

In a small space like this one designed by studio Huseby Homes keeping the walls white and adding matching simple furniture that blends in is a smart and practical idea. That also leaves room to include some bold design accents like a patterned floor for example. This one stretches across the whole space allowing the areas to seamlessly connect.

Parallel configurations

Parallel configurationsView in gallery

In this case the interior designers at studio Krista + Home made sure that the living room, kitchen and dining area all seamlessly come together in this big open space. At the same time they allowed each area to have its own identity. The kitchen is L-shaped and almost parallel to the living area which has a two sofa configuration.

Partial separation

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Here studio Syndicate created a partial separation between the kitchen and the living room. In between these two areas stands a partial dividing wall which is carved out to include a bar with a countertop and additional storage. This allows the kitchen to be visually connected to the living area but also to feel like its own room. 

A ton of natural light

A ton of natural lightView in gallery

Architecture and design studio Kathleen Bost brought the beautiful backyard into this lovely open concept kitchen and living area. The white walls, shelves and cupboards make it easy for the kitchen to blend in while the big glass panel windows let in an abundance of sunlight. Furthermore, the lovely view can be enjoyed from both of these areas. 

Warm wooden accents

Warm wooden accentsView in gallery
Photo by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

The easiest way to bring lots of warmth into a room’s design is by incorporating wooden accents into its design. This charming house has a beautiful farmhouse-style kitchen with an entire wall covered in wood panels. The kitchen itself is white which brightens up this whole room. It’s a nice balance with lots of charm. 

A unified and modern aesthetic

A unified and modern aestheticView in gallery

This design by studio Feinmann has its own way of being warm and inviting. The building has an industrial character which this design respects and molds into its new modern aesthetic. The kitchen in particular is very welcoming thanks to the warm wooden furniture and the simplicity of its lines and shapes. The contrast with the dark gray floor is really beautiful and helps the furniture to stand out even more. 

Classic with a twist

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There’s plenty of details to be inspired by in this small open concept kitchen designed by studio HA Architecture. For instance, the walls are partially covered with white subway tiles arranged in a vertical pattern. Also, the two-tone cabinets add traditional flair to the design while the stainless steel appliances give it a modern and professional vibe. 



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