Small Kitchen Remodel: Light & Airy

Two avid cooks needed a more efficient kitchen to pursue their passion. See how they transformed their 9x14-foot kitchen into a chef's paradise.


Self-described "food dorks," these homeowners launched a blog to give their culinary experiments a more public forum. But the laboratory for those experiments -- the kitchen in their Craftsman-style bungalow -- needed improving. But how can a laboratory-type kitchen complement the style of a 1920s-era cottage? The homeowners were inspired by the old black-top tables used in science classrooms and gave that idea to architect Andrew Mann as a starting point for the kitchen design. With the vision for the kitchen's look in place, amping up the function followed suit.

Before the remodel, the kitchen lacked clear-cut work areas and was directly attached to the couple's bedroom. Mann's goal was to help the homeowners create a more efficient, defined space. That meant lopping off part of the existing kitchen and repurposing it as a hallway. A new wall actually makes the kitchen more useful without feeling any less spacious.

The old kitchen had only about 2 feet of usable countertop. Now, three distinct work zones offer three times more work space in the two-cook lab. But that's not the only improvement: Abundant storage and conveniences, such as a range hood, make the kitchen much more pleasant.

An open shelving unit above the main workstation maintains an airy feel. Cleverly concealing the couple's array of cookbooks from the hallway side, the unit's bottom shelf is closed at the back.

Accessible from both sides, the open shelving unit sits alongside a transom-top doorway. A new pocket door tucks away to open up more space but can be shut if needed. Mann also added a pass-through between the kitchen and the new breakfast nook (previously a laundry room) and transoms above doorways. The effect is an airy feel, keeping the space bright and open while reflecting the lighthearted nature of the couple's cooking chronicles.

Staying true to the home's traditional architecture was crucial, and the liberties Mann took with this remodel supported that principle. He insisted on styling details that might go unnoticed but not unappreciated. Windows, doorways, lights, and cabinets line up to create a sense of calm and order that extends throughout the kitchen. The kitchen's pass-through and the breakfast room's new French doors offer much-improved views of the hills and bay outside the home.

An oversize undermount sink paired with a pullout faucet makes cleanup simple. Its placement facilitates interaction with guests in the attached breakfast nook.

The couple saved money and added historical presence with a straight row of simple Shaker-style cabinetry. Drawers for cookware in base cabinetry provide modern convenience. Honed-slate counters and a subway-tile backsplash were chosen for their easy-to-clean and durable characteristics.

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