7 Genius Small Kitchen Ideas in South Africa

Small kitchens can be challenging when it comes to having adequate space for appliances, storage, and food preparation. However, with some clever planning and design, small kitchens in South Africa can be highly functional and beautiful. The key considerations when remodeling or building a small kitchen are optimizing the layout, selecting space-saving appliances and fixtures, making smart storage choices, and decorating to enhance the sense of space.

The layout is critical for any size kitchen, but especially small kitchens where every inch counts. Popular small kitchen layouts in South Africa include galley, L-shaped, and U-shaped designs. Galley kitchens are efficient with counters and cabinets lining two parallel walls. L-shaped kitchens maximize workflow by placing appliances along one wall and prep space on the perpendicular wall. U-shaped kitchens offer ample counters and storage by fitting cabinets along three walls.

When it comes to appliances and fixtures, go compact and multi-functional. A 24-inch refrigerator, convection microwave oven, and induction cooktop are great small kitchen appliance options. Stackable washers and dryers also conserve precious floor space. Undermount sinks and pull-down faucets save room on the countertop.

Optimize Layout and Workflow

When planning a small kitchen design for a South African home, optimizing the layout and workflow is critical. Every inch counts, so thoughtful planning of the floorplan and space can make the kitchen highly functional and efficient. Here are some top tips for layout and workflow in a compact South African kitchen:

Consider Galley, L-Shaped or U-Shaped Designs

The three most common and effective layouts for small kitchens are galley, L-shaped, and U-shaped designs.

  • Galley kitchens feature counters and cabinets lining two parallel walls. This linear layout makes for efficient workflow and easy access. Make sure there is adequate walkway space (at least 36 inches) between the galley walls.
  • L-shaped kitchens place appliances and countertops along one wall and additional prep/storage space on the perpendicular wall. The L-shape creates a natural triangle workflow from sink to stove to refrigerator. Include at least 42 to 48 inches between the two legs of the L-shape.
  • U-shaped kitchens maximize prep space and storage by placing cabinets on three walls. The sink traditionally goes in the base of the U with the stove and refrigerator on the legs. U-shaped kitchens require a space of at least 60 inches across.

Zone Areas Mindfully

When arranging appliances, prep zones, and storage, pay attention to kitchen workflow. Place frequently used items like the refrigerator, stove, and sink in the prime zone. Position them in an efficient sequence for food prep. Put lesser used appliances and pantry storage along the perimeter.

Allow for Ample Counter Space

Counter space comes at a premium in compact kitchens. Be sure to allow for at least 18 to 24 inches of landing space on one side of appliances, like the stove or sink. Strategically place frequently used small appliances on the counters for access but tuck them away in cabinets when not in use.

Take Advantage of Dead Space

Look for any wasted or dead space around pipes, appliances, and corners. Use this space for narrow pull-out shelves, spice racks, knife blocks and other vertical storage solutions. Installing rollout trays or drawers in base cabinets also fully utilizes all available room.

Consider Multi-functional Islands

While a standard kitchen island may be too bulky, a compact island on casters can serve multiple purposes, from extra counter space and seating to storage. Look for small islands with butcher block tops, wine racks, baskets, or shelves. Just make sure it can roll out of the way when not needed.

With good design and planning, a small South African kitchen can function just as efficiently as a larger cooking space. Focus on a logical layout, zone appliances smartly, allow ample landing space, utilize dead space, and incorporate multifunctional islands or carts to optimize workflow.

Choose Multifunctional and Space-Saving Appliances

When remodeling or building a compact kitchen in South Africa, selecting the right appliances plays a key role in maximizing every square inch. Appliances need to be sized appropriately for small spaces and serve multiple functions when possible. Here are the top options for multifunctional and space-saving appliances perfect for small kitchens:

Compact Refrigerators

Full-size refrigerators are bulky appliances that consume precious floor space. For small kitchens, compact refrigerators around 24 inches wide are ideal. They provide sufficient fresh food and freezer capacity for 1-2 people in a slimmer footprint. Top opening freezer compartments and adjustable shelving to accommodate tall items are useful features.

Combination Convection/Microwave Ovens

Integrating multiple appliances into one is a smart strategy for small kitchens. Combination convection/microwave ovens combine the cooking power of a standard oven with the speed of a microwave in one unit. They can be installed in a standard oven cut-out or countertop. These multitaskers allow you to bake, broil, and microwave cook food.

Induction Cooktops

Gas and electric cooktops require considerable counter space which is limited in a compact kitchen. Induction cooktops are energy-efficient, precise, and comprised of portable cooking zones that take up less room. Because heat is only generated between pan and glass-ceramic surface, the surrounding countertop stays cool to the touch.

Compact Dishwashers

A standard 24-inch dishwasher may not fit in a tight kitchen layout. Luckily, slim 18-inch wide dishwashers provide the same capacity and features in a smaller package. Countertop dishwashers are also great space-savers if undercounter installation is not possible. Look for energy efficient models.

Stackable Laundry Units

Incorporating laundry duties into a small kitchen is achievable with stackable washer/dryer units. Stackables allow you to vertically install the washer and dryer, saving considerable floor space. Units come in narrow widths to tuck them away neatly. Ventless heat-pump dryers are also compact and efficient.

When planning a small South African kitchen, carefully selecting multifunctional and compact appliances allows you to achieve full cooking capabilities. Prioritize appliances that serve multiple purposes, have smaller footprints, or use vertical space wisely.

Use Clever Storage Solutions

Limited space for food, cooking items, and dishware can make storage a challenge in small South African kitchens. However, there are many ingenious storage solutions that make the most of every inch to keep a compact kitchen organized. From pull-out drawers to hidden wastebins, here are clever storage ideas for tiny kitchens:

Install Pull-Out Drawers

The space in base cabinets is often underutilized in standard kitchens. Pull-out drawers make full use of cabinet depth and eliminate having to reach to the back. Full extension drawers provide easy access to contents. Consider pull-outs for pots and pans, baking sheets, spices, or food storage containers.

Use Blind Corner Organizers

The tough-to-reach corner cabinet is ripe for smart storage solutions. Blind corner organizers include pull-out, two-tiered, or rotating mechanisms to fully optimize the space. Some feature built-in vertical dividers for plates and pans. Explore options like Rev-A-Shelf’s Blind Corner Cabinet Optimizer.

Mount Spice Racks Vertically

Don’t sacrifice precious drawer space for spices. Mount wall-mounted spice racks vertically to see labels at a glance. For extra storage, mount them inside cabinet doors. For quick access to cooking staples, consider a rail-mounted rack near the stove.

Hang Pots and Pans

Bulky pots and pans can quickly crowd cabinets. Free up space by hanging them vertically on the wall or from the ceiling. For safety, choose sturdy wall-mounted racks or ceiling racks and pot racks that mount into ceiling studs. Position them close to the stove for ease.

Hide Wastebins

Trash and recycling bins take up floor space. Utilize base cabinet space by installing pull-out waste/recycling container systems, so bins slide out when needed. Some feature dual bins and custon cabinet fronts to blend seemlessly with cabinetry. Rev-A-Shelf and Cabinetware makeHidden waste storage solutions.

Use Tiered Shelving

Take advantage of vertical unused walls for storage. Tiered shelving doubles your display space for frequently used items. Wall-mounted étagères with 2-3 shelves are great for spices, cooking oils, small appliances or decorative items. Floating shelves also conserve counter space.

With some creativity and smart solutions, even the smallest kitchen can have well-organized and easily accessible storage. Optimize every cabinet and vertical space with specialized pull outs, organizers, racks, and shelving.

Select the Right Countertops

Choosing the right countertop material is key when designing a small kitchen in South Africa. The counters see heavy use for prep work, serving, and eating so durability is crucial. But countertops also impact the aesthetics of the whole kitchen. For compact kitchens, look for countertop materials that are affordable, functional for tight spaces, and stylish:


Laminate countertops (like Formica) are budget-friendly and come in countless colors and patterns. The smooth surface resists stains, scratches, heat, and moisture. Laminate is an ideal choice for small kitchens because it’s lightweight yet durable, easy to install, and affordable if you ever need to replace down the road.


Ceramic or porcelain tile countertops bring personality with tons of design options including patterns, colors, finishes. The hard surface is naturally resistant to moisture, stains, and heat. The seamless installation works well for tight spaces. Pricewise tile falls middle of the road. Smaller tile sizes keep grout lines to a minimum.

Engineered Quartz

Quartz countertops offer the beauty of stone with excellent durability. Made from ground quartz blended with resins, they resist scratches, stains, heat and are easy to clean. Seamless installation suits compact kitchen spaces. While pricier than laminate or tile, quartz offers great value for a stylish, functional small kitchen countertop.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel countertops provide a sleek, modern look perfect for contemporary small kitchens. The nonporous surface doesn’t need sealing and is easy to disinfect. Stainless is heat, stain, and rust resistant. It can dent from heavy impact and shows fingerprints. Overall an attractive, low-maintenance option but higher cost.

Reclaimed Wood

Wood counters bring warmth and rustic appeal to small kitchens. Reclaimed and susatainably sourced lumber makes durable counters. Opt for moistureresistant wood species like bamboo, teak or Black Locust. Wood requires regular sealing. For tight spaces, a butcher block island pairs nicely with a low-maintenance quartz or laminate perimeter countertop.


Concrete counters are trendy and ideal for modern industrial small kitchens. Concrete is durable, heatproof, and comes in varied colors like grey, white, black achieved with stains and pigments. The look pairs well with stainless steel appliances. Concrete needs regular sealing. Heights may be limited by weight.

Selecting the right countertop involves factoring in usage, maintenance, cost, and style. For tiny kitchens, laminate, porcelain, quartz, and stainless provide affordable options that maximize function.

Take Advantage of Wall Space

With limited floor space, using vertical wall space cleverly is crucial in a compact South African kitchen. Take advantage of walls, interior cabinets, and awkward nooks to increase storage and functionality. Here are smart ways to maximize vertical real estate:

Install Wall-Mounted Shelving

Wall-mounted shelves double your storage and display options. Floating shelves are simple to install directly on walls. With open sides they keep the kitchen feeling airy.

Mount shelves high for displaying decorative accents or at arm’s level for frequently used cooking items. Utilize the space between wall cabinets and countertops.

Use Rail-Mounted Pot Racks

Rail-mounted pot racks allow you to hang pots, pans, and utensils from the ceiling right above the cooktop or island. Position them at a convenient height that’s safely away from heat sources. In addition to saving cabinet space, hanging cookware keeps items within easy reach while cooking. Opt for rail systems with adjustable hooks to reposition as needed.

Install Wall-Mounted Knife Storage

In-wall knife blocks keep sharp utensils safe yet easily accessible without taking up counter space. Mount them near prep zones. Magnetic knife bars allow you to simply stick knives up for temporary storage. For safety, avoid open countertop knife blocks in compact kitchens.

Utilize Cabinet Vertical Space

Take advantage of interior cabinet door space with storage racks, shelves, and other attachments. Mount spice racks, paper towel holders, foil/bag dispensers inside cabinet doors for easy access. Durable over-the-cabinet door racks offer extra space for canned goods, baking sheets, or small appliances.

Consider Wall-Mounted Appliances

Wall ovens, microwaves, coffee makers and other appliances conserve precious counter real estate. Newer compact models have trimmer profiles that fit in tight spaces. Just make sure appliances don’t encroach on walkways when opened. Opt for appliances with front-controls.

Install Floating Shelves

Floating shelves allow you to make use of awkward narrow wall spaces that can’t accommodate cabinets. Useful for niche storage like spices, oils, condiments. Or utilize next to work zones for temporary staging. Just be sure floating shelves are properly anchored for safety.

By going vertical and clearing counters, wall space opens up valuable real estate in tiny kitchens. Take advantage with shelving, racks, cabinets and appliances to gain functionality.

Key Takeaways

Here are some key takeaways for designing a highly functional small kitchen in South Africa:

  • Optimize layout and workflow with galley, L-shaped or U-shaped designs. Allow for ample landing space around appliances.
  • Select compact, multifunctional appliances like smaller refrigerators, combination oven/microwaves, induction cooktops.
  • Incorporate clever storage solutions like pull-out drawers, blind corner organizers, vertical hanging racks.
  • Choose durable, low-maintenance countertops like laminate, porcelain, quartz that suit tight spaces.
  • Maximize vertical wall space with floating shelves, rail racks, wall-mounted appliances, interior cabinet storage.
  • Add style with paint colors, patterns, undercabinet lighting and decorative accents.

With careful space planning and smart solutions, small kitchens can be highly functional and beautiful. Take advantage of every inch with compact appliances, concealed storage, and vertical space to open up room.

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