An architect stretched the function and upped the style of her tiny kitchen proving it's not about how much space you have but how you use it.

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For nearly five years, every time Lauren DeMattia made dinner in her 700-square-foot Brooklyn apartment, food was the last thing on her mind. Instead, she weighed remodeling scenarios. "I'm always thinking about how to make something better and more efficient," says Lauren, an architect who designs healthcare facilities.

kitchen before
Credit: Courtesy of Lauren DeMattia

Finding a new spot for the fridge allowed her to rethink the entire room. Her plan came together with help from a contractor she found through Sweeten, a company that facilitates home renovations. Now when Lauren is at her cooktop, she focuses on dinner and enjoys the view to her living room and new dining area.

blue kitchen marble counters and walls
Credit: Dylan Chandler

To accommodate a wood display shelf, the cabinets were hung higher than usual, but they run to the ceiling to maximize storage. The marble used for the countertops continues up the walls for cohesiveness. If you have a small kitchen, a 24-inch cooktop might ignite more plan options than a standard 30- or 36-inch unit.

blue paneled fridge and pantry
Credit: Dylan Chandler

Moving the fridge created a better cooking spot and left space for a dishwasher. The paneled fridge with freezer drawer disappears into a floor-to-ceiling built-in between a pantry and coat closet.

living room before
Credit: Courtesy of Lauren DeMattia

Initially, Lauren couldn't stop thinking about an island or a peninsula. But she realized it would cramp the flow into the living room, so she accomplished her goal for more seating another way. Now, a cabinet fills the space below the windows.

small living room gallery wall
Credit: Dylan Chandler

As in the kitchen, Lauren's goal for the living room was to streamline. A new built-in unit spans the window wall, integrating the air-conditioner and radiator. Pushing the furniture toward that wall created a dining area between the living room and kitchen.

custom white cabinets book shelves
Credit: Dylan Chandler

The wall-to-wall custom cabinet incorporates display space. With its durable, high-gloss finish, the top provides a place for Lauren to tend to her growing collection of plants. Legs make the metal sections resemble furniture. Metal screening disguises the air-conditioner and radiator but allows air to circulate.

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before kitchen plan
Credit: Illustration by Chris Glowacki

Small Apartment Layout: Before

Space trapped along the window wall was being wasted. It's hard to lose a big closet, but the one Lauren lost held the key to a larger kitchen.

after kitchen plan
Credit: Illustration by Chris Glowacki

Small Apartment Layout: After

The design of the wall opposite the front door was critical. "I felt it needed to be really clean and orderly," Lauren says. "Now it helps mitigate the fact that you're walking right into the kitchen."

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