Before and After Kitchens

Small-Kitchen Makeover

Before, Sarah and John's small Brooklyn kitchen could be used only for cooking. Now four people can dine comfortably thanks to smart storage and better use of available space.

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This 75-square-foot L-shaped kitchen is super-functional and beautiful too.

After visiting my friends Sarah and John in Brooklyn, N.Y., and dining in the middle of their spatially challenged living room that faces the back of their sofa, I offered my design services to put their open-concept kitchen to better use.

The kitchen, a 75-square-foot L-shaped space right in the center of their two-bedroom apartment, was packed with new stainless appliances, solid surface countertops and honey-toned cabinetry. Although it looked great and fit their day-to-day needs, it could be better utilized with an integrated dining space -- especially since they enjoy eating fresh, home-cooked meals along with newborn daughter, Orly, and John's tween daughter, Emily. After persuading them to turn the space over to me and my team for three days, I gave my team a clear goal: we'd maximize their storage and free up enough space to seat four people comfortably.

First on our to-do list: creating and installing a four-person seating arrangement, followed by adding warmth and pizzazz to the beige walls and ceiling with olive green paint. Since a 52-inch radiator closet wall divides the kitchen from the nearby living room, we decided to put it to good use with a wall-mounted counter-height table. Determined to give Sarah and John something durable and custom, I worked with furniture designer and former HGTV Design Star contestant Dan Faires to create something from reclaimed wood that was one-of-a-kind, kid-friendly, forgiving and sturdy. After cutting the lumber to size, sanding it, then finishing it with a wax treatment, Dan installed it directly into wall studs using heavy-duty anchors and drywall screws.

With the table in place, we next turned our focus to seating: a set of four stackable steel stools with a powder-coated celery green finish. Since saving space was the most important element of the kitchen update, keeping the stools stacked and tucked below the table ensured the floor surface of the kitchen remained open and unobstructed. Once guests are seated, the sleek lines of the stools still offer plenty of room for Sarah and John to work in the kitchen.

Next, we aimed to free up as much cabinet space as possible by keeping all pots and pans stored on a ceiling-mounted pot rack. To give the pot rack dual purposes, we chose a type that also doubles as a light fixture, with small halogen bulbs integrated into the four corners of the rack. By installing it above the custom wall-mounted table, we not only took advantage of dead space by using it as open storage but also added much-needed ambience to the dining area.


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