Designer Christa Lineberger and her husband, architect Kent Lineberger, celebrate the smallness of their kitchen rather than denigrate it. Their update to the space preserves the kind of step-saving efficiency that eases cooking and the charming intimacy that suits their 1930s cottage-style home. "Although it certainly presents challenges to the proper function and adequate storage, the smaller space can reveal a more efficient design solution than a larger space allows," Christa says.
To provide storage and display space for kitchen items without leaving the small room cabinetry-heavy, the Linebergers opted for a blend of open shelving, solid-door cabinetry, glass-door cabinetry, and countertop storage. From her own design experience, Christa knew that minimal upper cabinetry would suffice. "I have found that the majority of people only use about half of the items they have stored in their kitchen," she says, "and could actually function with far less."
The couple didn't want modern appliances to overwhelm the small space, so they disguised the units with cabinetry-matching panels where possible. The wall ovens, which couldn't be covered, were placed in an inconspicuous corner.
Gold walls, parchment-color moldings, and a backsplash of beige subway tiles work with the marble counters and the contrasting painted-wood cabinetry finishes to create and earthy palette that is mostly subdued. Yet the scheme is punctuated by the boldness of black and energized by the play of patterns, such as the hypnotic design on the tile harlequin between the cooktop and hood. "We were definitely inspired by the richness of color found on visits to Italy," Christa says. Open storage for pots and pans keeps the kitchen from looking crowded by cabinetry.
Cork tiles laid on the bias in a low-contrast diamond pattern form a floor that is quiet, comfortable, and durable, and that tricks the eye into thinking the kitchen is wider than it actually is.
Once a breakfast nook, a small area between the kitchen and dining room now serves as a butler's pantry. Christa and Kent treat it as their beverage bar, using the U-shape, sink-equipped prep and serving area to dole out anything from morning coffee and afternoon tea to evening wine and cocktails for parties. Christa says the little space is a big draw when company comes.
The muted brown and beige tones of honed Emperador marble in the work core and the radiant sheen of polished Damascus Red marble in the butler's pantry (see picture, below) make a striking countertop duo. Both stone surfaces convey elegance and make a statement despite their small proportions.
Though the compact layout is easy for one cook to navigate, others can help, thanks to well-spaced counters and appliances. "I love cooking in this kitchen," Christa says. "Everything is within five steps so it is very efficient. We have also had multiple cooks at work with no difficulty."
The unfitted look includes a black cabinet for the refrigerator, a butcher-block table, and a built-in china cabinet original to the home. "I think it is important to have fun and mix it up," Christa says, "and not be afraid to do what you love rather than design what may appeal to a future buyer."
A fondness for Italy influenced the color scheme and overall ambience. Reminders of the couple's Italian travels abound, especially in this part of the butler's pantry, which displays bottles of wine, a collection of corks, Italian dishware, and a painting from Tuscany. "Since wonderful food was certainly a part of those experiences, it seemed only natural to create an environment that inspired us in our culinary adventures," Christa says.