Location: Lower East Side, Manhattan
Size & Type: 56 square feet in co-op "efficiency"
Favorite resource: Complete Tile (NYC) for my backsplash. The green mosaic glass tiles were my first design decision...
Inspiration: After living many years in the East Village with roommates and a large eat-in kitchen, my first very-own home needed the familiarity of a kitchen where I could really spend time. But my co-op's kitchen was only a "pullman" enclosed area within the entrance hallway...
Favorite resource, continued: ...those tiles were my "aha" moment from which all ideas stemmed. (Also Ikea - where I'd never been before - for cabinets, PC Richard's for apartment-size appliances, International Stone Accessories (Brooklyn) for granite counter-top and froogle.com for comparison-shopping everything, including literally the kitchen sink!)
Inspiration, continued: ...refrigerator, range and sink side-by-side, NO counter space and one thin, awkward pantry. I renovated to open up the area, removing the "pullman" and pantry walls, building in countertops and as much cabinetry as possible around 90 degrees, placing a thin, tall fridge and pantry along a 3rd wall -- as if beyond the entryway (closet and landing strip), there was a full room: a bright, airy, modern/retro kitchen with inviting, bold colors and simple lines.
Tip: If, like me, you are not a designer or someone who normally creates with your hands, bounce ideas off friends/family and find sites like Apartment Therapy for inspiration (that's how I found AT, blindly Googling "small apartment design" sites). First, though, trust your instincts and really think about what you need, like and can do without. Visualize what you want first and expand or compromise from there