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/ Source: TODAY
By Zoe Weiner

Whether you live in a “charming” rental (read: tiny), or you just don’t have quite as much counter space to work with as your inner chef would like, decorating a small kitchen can feel like a challenge. The good news? You don’t have to sacrifice cute kitchen decor simply because your space is itty-bitty.

When it comes to small kitchen decor, function and fashion go hand in hand, which is why it's important that every piece you choose has a purpose. Think: Pots and pans that you'll want to put on display, decorations in unexpected places and odds and ends that won't (pardon the pun) eat up your valuable counter real estate.

Here, designers share their favorite hacks on how to perfect the art of small kitchen decor, so you can embrace the interior designer in you without wasting a single inch of cook space.

Small kitchen decor ideas:

  • 1. Build upward
Shelves are a great way to save space.Getty Images

Instead of relying on your countertops to hold your decorations, find a way to work upward.

"Use open shelves for additional storage, and keep your exposed dishes and glassware simple and minimal,” said Shelby Girard, head of design at home decor service Havenly. "Often times in small kitchens, we need to use an additional shelf to house plates, glasses or serving pieces. To cut down on the illusion of clutter, keep these pieces minimal, like solid white plates or matching glassware.” Utilizing the empty spacewill also help create the illusion that the area is bigger than it actually is.

  • 2. Stay organized
A clean kitchen is a happy kitchen.Getty Images

Ditch the clutter as best you can. "Set up stations — a cell phone charging station, a mail-drop area and one junk drawer to hide all of the 'stuff,'" said Kelly Page, founder of lifestyle blog Blue Gray Gal. "The better organized you are, the more you can think and use the room properly."

  • 3. Use your counter to its fullest extent
Try to find items that are both functional and attractive for your countertops.Getty Images

"In smaller kitchens, you’ll likely need to keep some things out on the counter, (so) it becomes important to consider the aesthetic quality and cohesiveness of the pieces on your countertop,” said Girard. "Simple flour and sugar canisters, a beautiful fruit bowl and utensil holder, an organized coffee station anchored by a pretty tray and even a thoughtful paper towel holder can go a long way in dressing up your kitchen while still being super functional.”

  • 4. Ditch the microwave
Do you really need a microwave on the counter?Getty Images

Microwaving your food may be a quick and efficient way to get dinner on the table quickly, but the tool will take up some pretty valuable real estate on your counter. "They’re bulky and not cute, and pretty much anything you use a microwave for is easily replaced with your oven or stovetop,” said Girard. “This is one appliance you can opt out of, and have more room for that beautiful new KitchenAid mixer.”

  • 5. Make your cookware part of the decor
These copper pots look beautiful on display.Getty Images

Limited cabinet space can make it difficult to store all of those bulky pots and pans you need on hand to cook dinner, but Pinterest has figured out some easy — and pretty — ways to work around it. Invest in some beautiful cookware, like Great Jones’ rainbow of options, and hang them above your stove on hooks or a cork board. A collection of colorful mugs can also look purposeful hanging above the stove.

  • 6. Try hideaway furniture
A collapsible kitchen table will give you options.Getty Images

If you don’t have room for a full-on kitchen table, try a collapsible one. There are plenty of collapsible tables on the market that you can fold up and tuck away, which can also double as great kitchen islands for additional counter space. Whip it out when you’re entertaining, and you’ll benefit from the best of both options.

  • 7. Add artwork, lighting and rugs
Don't be afraid to add some fun design elements!Getty Images

"We don’t usually think of our functional kitchens as a place for more special design considerations, but a beautiful chandelier, a vintage-inspired runner or small artwork leaning on open shelves can go such a long ways in beautifying your kitchen and motivating you to cook at home,” said Girard. Additional lighting can also make even the smallest, darkest spaces feel more manageable.