Before and After: Work-Smart Kitchen Layout

A new layout transforms this Colorado kitchen from an obstacle course to a smooth work zone.

New Plan

What's the most important feature of a kitchen? Ask homeowner Bev Needham, and she'll tell you a good layout. That's why she got together with Beth Joseph, a kitchen designer, to create a new kitchen layout that naturally flows between work areas. To achieve this new space, they gutted the kitchen, changed all the cabinetry and appliances, and redesigned the island.

Before: Major Foot Work

Before, Bev would not have described her kitchen as user friendly. A large island broke up the room's work space and forced her to take extra steps when preparing a meal. The glass blocks along the base of the island dated the space and didn't match the rest of the kitchen's aesthetic.

After: Island Grooves

Joseph's major task was to create a new work space that was functional and modern. Rather than remove the island, she revamped it by changing the island countertop to one height. Next, she moved the refrigerator from in front of the island to behind the island to give Bev easier access when preparing meals. Joseph believes a kitchen functions better when the refrigerator integrates with the main cooking area. She moved the microwave closer to the refrigerator to make reheating food easier.

Before: Double Trouble

This double-level island presented many problems when it came time to prepare a dish. The appliances were spread across the kitchen, with the island serving as a roadblock. Therefore, Bev wasted time and energy moving around the island and bringing stuff back and forth to the sink and preparation area. The prep area was also a major problem. The dual-height island hid dirty dishes but limited space for spreading out ingredients.

After: Top Design

Updating the cabinets, countertops, and backsplash was a key part of overhauling the kitchen. Stainless-steel upper cabinets team with the stainless-steel appliances to give the kitchen a modern look. Green and gray glass backsplash tiles play off the colors of the granite countertops throughout the kitchen. For the base cabinets, Bev chose cherrywood cabinets with an espresso finish.

Before: Off Color

The kitchen's original cabinets were the catalyst for this renovation. Pickled oak cabinets with a pinkish tint were too much for Bev. Also, the appliance garage was a waste of good counter space.

After: Hard At Work

Office spaces in the kitchen are great for paying bills or giving kids a place to do homework while dinner's being prepared. The designer repeated the tile and cabinetry elements to connect the area to the rest of the kitchen. But, she also wanted to set it apart. The stepped-down counter and contemporary shelving unit that mounts to the ceiling separates this mini-office from the rest of the kitchen.

Before: Overworked

While having a work area in the kitchen is a practical idea, having it take up half a wall is not. This area went from four upper cabinets and a shelf to a sleek ceiling-mount unit. Scaling down the desk area freed space for a slim countertop.

After: Natural Flow

The breakfast nook and family room areas that flow from the kitchen share a similar look. Dark table legs match the base cabinets. Honey oak floors were lightened with a matte finish to contrast against the dark table legs.

After: Gathering Spot

The breakfast area continues the theme of the kitchen with a dark wood table that matches the kitchen's cherrywood cabinets. A pendant light gives the area a contemporary feel.

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