Small-Kitchen Remodeling: Layout & Style Refresh

A cramped layout and lack of personality motivated the remodeling of this small kitchen. The colorful, functional result works well within its 125-square-foot layout.

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Color and smart space planning give this kitchen a sense of vibrancy and a foundation of functionality. The kitchen designer, who is also the homeowner, reworked the once bland and poorly planned kitchen to include more storage, a better layout, and plenty of style. A new cabinet bumped into the living area accommodates stacked ovens, defines the new kitchen boundary, and makes a smart stopping point for the backsplash tile. The L-shape island is two work areas in one. Food can be prepared at the counter opposite the oven cabinet. The longer island section functions as a serving and eating area. To unify the perimeter cabinets, the dishwasher and refrigerator are concealed behind cabinet panels.

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Along the backsplash, 1-1/2×6-inch glass tiles echo the island color. The unusual size gives a twist to a classic pattern. The pattern used here is called a running bond, or brick, pattern. Stacked bond describes tiles in a grid, which would create a more contemporary look.

Although the kitchen has just one small window, the homeowner created the impression of more by fitting a few cabinet doors with glass and others with shutter-look doors -- a look enhanced by centered twist pulls.

When it comes to food staples, the designer tells her clients that if you don't see it, you won't realize you have it. She applied that principle to her own kitchen remodel. Conquering the lack of food storage in the old kitchen, a 1x7-foot pullout pantry that's accessible from both sides provides sufficient and highly visible storage real estate in the new kitchen.

A trio of countertop materials adds personality to the kitchen. The homeowner chose easy-care granite for the countertop near the sink and range, wenge wood for her chopping station, and waxed copper for the breakfast bar because its patina creates an element of surprise.

The new pistachio-hue island injects a shot of color amid white cabinets and provides specialized storage, including pullout shelves for cookware across from the cooktop and fridge.

With the exception of butting a cabinet 30 inches into the adjoining living room, this kitchen gained no square footage but functions much more smartly, thanks to a savvy reconfiguration. The cooking zone moved from the island to the L-shape area between the sink and refrigerator to create more eating space in the 10x12-1/2-foot kitchen. Typically, the kitchen designer recommends a prep sink for an island, but here she installed a built-in steamer for cooking vegetables and put a pot filler faucet above the range.

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