A Kitchen Makeover on a Budget
Don't let fears of cost or complexity ruin your appetite for revamping the most important room in the house. With a medley of minor tweaks and grander upgrades, one couple turned their tiny messy hall of a kitchen into a clean, modern, functional space -- one affordable, easily digestible task at a time.
Room to Grow
When graphic designers Curtis and Jennie Hemmert began renovating their '30s-era home in Little Falls, New Jersey, they hit a wall with one room: the dated, 100-square-foot kitchen. It had a sink that couldn't hold a saucepan ("I had to clean the pots in the bathtub," Jennie confesses), a refrigerator that didn't fit, and peeling laminate countertops that never quite looked pristine. "Our goal was to open up the space and make it more functional," says Curtis. Here's how we helped make their tiny galley shipshape.
Instead of springing for new cupboards -- an expensive proposition -- the Hemmerts opted to refurbish the old ones. They also used the wall space beneath cabinetry for storage to free up work surfaces for food prep.
In a cramped room, you have to embrace your constraints -- big fixtures will only make it feel smaller. "We couldn't open the window without moving the work cart, and shifting the cart then blocked the door to the mudroom," Jennie says.
The couple went with a soft blue-green for the walls. Choosing two shades from one paint chip -- darker on cupboards and trim, lighter on walls -- guarantees a perfect match. Vibrant kitchenware adds even more flair.
This taller, skinnier stainless-steel refrigerator fits flush with the counter. Likewise, because dark colors can make a room feel like it's closing in, we brightened the brown cabinets with several coats of pale blue-green paint (semigloss for chip resistance and ease of cleaning). The cool hue reflects more light (both from the modern glass globe fixture and through the sheer fabric shade), making the walls appear to recede.
A slick new faucet was a surefire improvement. But at the Hemmerts', the too-small two-bowl sink also had to go. A durable white Corian one -- integrated with the new countertops -- was only a minor splurge, given the total small surface area.
A simple stainless-steel rack transforms everyday pots and utensils into ornaments, instead of obstacles. The small appliances (blender, toasted oven) that used to be parked under the rack have been relocated to free up the valuable countertop real estate.
For a room that measures only 10' 7" by 10' 3", the finished result is bright, airy, and totally functional.