Pullman-Style Kitchen

Get ideas and inspiration for a Pullman-style kitchen, and prepare to install an efficient and attractive kitchen design in your home.
Modern Kitchen With Pull-Out Pantry Drawer

Modern Kitchen With Pull-Out Pantry Drawer

This kitchen pantry has drawers that pull out, revealing several shelves of different heights for storing different types of food.

This kitchen pantry has drawers that pull out, revealing several shelves of different heights for storing different types of food.

By: Sean McEvoy

If you're looking for an efficient kitchen designed to fit into a particularly small space, a Pullman-style kitchen may be right for you.

Inspired by the small, utilitarian kitchens found on trains, Pullman kitchens often utilize a small existing space like a closet or alcove, or they may attach to one wall in a smaller overall space like a studio or loft. They offer the most bang for the buck of just about any kitchen design, as they generally feature all the required elements of a kitchen — sink, refrigerator, stove and storage — in one compact, easy-to-access design. While you may not be hosting many guests in a Pullman-style kitchen, if you've got limited space to work with or just want your kitchen to be focused on the tasks of cooking and cleaning, this design may be right for you.

Small Kitchens: 8 Design Ideas to Try

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Focus on Function

A small kitchen cannot accommodate homework, mail storage, laundry duties and recipe hunting. Unless you don't cook at all, the small kitchen's main chore is meal prep. So focus first on function, making sure you have the appliances and work areas you need. You may be able to save a bit of space by using scaled-down or innovative appliances, including refrigerator and freezer drawers and pint-sized microwaves, stoves (some with just two burners) and single sinks. If workspace is at a premium, consider a small-scale island or a counter-topped cart that can be rolled into a closet when not in use.

Open Up Cupboards

Tiny kitchens can feel claustrophobic when cabinets are towering overhead. Many cooks can't reach what's in them and the overall feeling is boxy and closed in. Get organized and trade the top cupboards for open storage. Consider shelving, pot racks and magnetic knife or spice holders instead. Your kitchen will look more spacious and serve up display space for your favorite dishes, shiny pots and pans, or artwork.

Mix Up the Materials

Because your kitchen may be short on interesting architectural details, it's up to you to add the all-important style via compelling countertop surfaces, cabinetry, fixtures, flooring, lighting and color. To ensure a cohesive look, create a mix board with samples and swatches of materials under consideration. One tip: Using the same color and style of fixtures and cabinet pulls can help unify a look.

From: Ammie Kim

Go for Glass

One of the easiest ways to visually expand a kitchen is to incorporate glass. Try a glass counter or tabletop, tile, door cabinets or kitchen doors that lead to the outside world or to the next room. Mirrors, in a backsplash or strategically placed around a room, or pass-through windows into the next room, also lighten up the look.

Visually Expand With Lighting

A small kitchen requires a combination of task and atmospheric lighting. To counteract the bluish cast of fluorescent lighting and add drama, install pendant lights in the eating area, incandescent lighting underneath upper cabinets and incandescent spot lighting above cabinetry. Lighting can also be installed under base cabinetry so it shines down onto the toe plate.

Invest in Flooring

Where does the eye go when one walks into a room? Often it goes down — right to that dust bunny or scuffed floor. That's why flooring in a small kitchen is so important. Linoleum in a checkerboard pattern can be really eye-catching and relatively inexpensive. Since square footage is small, you may be able to afford a beautiful tumbled marble. Marble tends to be cold and hard underfoot, but the impact may be worth it. Or try cork, a beautiful — and eco-friendly — choice.

Go Bold With Color

The color of walls, appliances, counters, stools — even the dishtowels — can change the atmosphere and perceived size of the kitchen. Pastels or light colors, with good doses of white, reflect light and draw the eye up, making ceilings appear higher. Bold colorations can be very effective in smaller kitchens. How about some Porsche red metal cabinets with celery green walls and a banana-colored concrete countertop?

Embrace the Space

Rather than using tricks to visually enlarge the space, consider embracing your kitchen as-is. Instead of going light or sleek, opt for country cozy. Make sure there is a little nook where you can sit with a visitor knee-to-knee. Or choose a rich dark color that creates a sophisticated feeling — and use accessories that emphasize that look. The kitchen is small, yes, but it sure is inviting.

Depending on the layout of your Pullman-style kitchen, it may or may not be possible to maintain the classic work triangle coveted by homeowners who wish to create an efficient cooking and cleaning space in their kitchen. The term "work triangle" refers to the triangular configuration of refrigerator, sink and stove within a kitchen, providing for an efficient and easily manageable space that lends itself easily to common kitchen tasks. In a Pullman-style kitchen, a work triangle may be possible if the kitchen is tucked in an alcove or closet with two facing walls that allow for a galley kitchen design, or it can be recreated via the installation of a kitchen island in a design featuring only one wall. If neither of these options are available, a Pullman-style kitchen with a one-wall design can still feature all three elements of the work triangle, but they'll simply need to be located next to each other. While this may be a minor inconvenience at times, since Pullman kitchens are generally quite small to begin with, you should still have no problem working easily in the space.

Pullman-style kitchens also present unique opportunities and challenges when it comes to elements like lighting and storage. In particular, ensuring there's enough space in a Pullman kitchen to store cooking accessories, utensils and dishware can be a challenge. Upper and lower cabinets are almost always featured on one or both walls of a Pullman kitchen, and an island can provide additional storage if there's room to include it in the design. Efficient options like lazy Susans and back-of-door storage racks can be helpful to increase the overall storage space in a Pullman-style kitchen.

Lighting is another important aspect of a Pullman-style kitchen, especially considering the fact that smaller spaces run the risk of feeling dark and cramped. Consider adding task and decorative lighting to your Pullman-style kitchen, illuminating spaces used for cooking, food preparation and cleaning, as well as areas under and above cabinets, in order to expand the small space visually.

Finally, small touches like ensuring the floorboards run parallel throughout the length of a Pullman-style kitchen space — and that their configuration contrasts with any backsplash or wall paper designs, in order to create depth — can do wonders to open up the space and make it feel larger.

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