This Small Condo Kitchen Is Packed with Hidden Storage and Stunning Color
Downsizing to a condo was the perfect fit for Dara DeHaven's life in every way—except one. How was the avid cook and collector going to pack her expansive style and storage requirements into the condo's cramped kitchen?
Ili Hidalgo-Nilsson and Kirstin Moehlig at Terracotta Design Build Co. had some ideas. "We needed to rethink the space to create as much storage as possible," Moehlig says. She and the Terracotta team tore out existing oak cabinets and designed custom perimeter cabinets that stretch to the 12-foot ceiling. A furniture-style island offers storage, a sink, and prep space.
"Dara is petite, so we earmarked the top portion of upper cabinets (reached by a step stool) for seldom-used items and maximized function in lower cabinets," Hidalgo-Nilsson says. A pullout near the range gives Dara easy access to spices and cooking oils. Another door slides back to reveal a coffeemaker, toaster, and microwave. A panel in a hutchlike cabinet drops down to serve as a desk. A bottom drawer disguises a food-and-water station for Dara's canine pal, Prynnie.
Cabinetry is painted soft sage green, a hue chosen to work with Dara's collected pieces. "The color also has a richness that seems to maximize the room's limited natural light," Moehlig says.
"Before I talked to Ili, I had thought I'd do a white kitchen, maybe with color in a tile backsplash," Dara says. "When she suggested green cabinets, I trusted her judgment. And it turned out great—it's nice to contrast the white used throughout the rest of the living areas."
Light countertops and a neutral range hood also serve as a foil to the earthy sage. "The hood was a project in itself," Moehlig says. "The old system, with an above-counter microwave, was just recycling air. We had to vent the new hood through the ceiling and then outside." It also had to be done without altering the exterior of the building in a historic Druid Hills neighborhood designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.
The range hood also had to be relatively lightweight, even though it needed grand proportions to mesh with the tall space. The Terracotta team came up with a stylish solution: A local artist laid decorative-finish plasterwork over a wood frame to give the look of a grand limestone piece. Even the "brass" trim is an eye-fooling faux-metal finish.
In the adjacent living space, the designers built two cabinet units into the wall, framing an existing fireplace and creating dramatic symmetry. "I had told Ili I wanted bookcases with display shelves, but I wasn't expecting them to be this stunning," Dara says. "I love the pop of chic black."
Black repeats in the tones of a new fireplace surround constructed of Nero Marquina marble. "We kept everything else light and neutral so the room feels brighter and more open," Moehlig says.
Dara now has her most prized pieces solidly in view as she dives into her latest culinary adventure. "She has amazing taste," Hidalgo-Nilsson says.
"She had curated her former home so thoroughly. We just had to rise to the challenge and fit everything she loved about her previous kitchen into this smaller space. It was about tweaking the space to fit her impeccable style."