Nifty Kitchen Solution – 1

Sometimes you walk into a prospective project, and within seconds, you see the solution – just like that! In this particular little house, it was the kitchen that was of most concern. Built in the 1940’s, the L-shaped kitchen was everything the foodie couple buying the house did not want. It had doors and windows in all the wrong places, minimal countertops and the traditional eating nook taking up potentially valuable kitchen work space by the window. The eating nook measured just short of 5 feet across, so extending the existing kitchen counter into the nook would not just feel cramped – it would also not pass inspection. They couple – for the most part DIYers – had budgeted for IKEA cabinets and appliances, but the problem of where to add the cabinets remained. There just wasn’t enough usable space! I was called in to help them out.

The answer was in the nearly 12’ tall rear entrance hallway that housed both a half-stair leading up to the kitchen, and the stairs going down into the basement. Thanks to a Portland building code that, for existing conditions in old houses allows a minimum ceiling height of 6’-8”, we were able to borrow enough space from the generously dimensioned stair well, to add nearly 7 feet of additional counter space. Including the counter above the oven brought it up to 10 feet of new work surfaces. In addition, our crafty maneuver opened the old kitchen up considerably and let more light in.

Here you can see that there is still sufficient headroom above the basement stairs. We simply built out a couple of feet to create another counter above.

Here you can see that there is still sufficient headroom above the basement stairs. We simply built out a couple of feet to create another counter above.

The new counter framed over the stairs.

The new counter framed over the stairs.

Essentially moving the wall back two feet made a huge difference in how far into the kitchen the light from the window in the former eating nook reached.

Essentially moving the wall back two feet made a huge difference in how far into the kitchen the light from the window in the former eating nook reached.

To further streamline and maximize the floor area, I convinced them to invest in a refurbished Subzero 24” deep refrigerator that would not jut out beyond the cabinets, instead of your usual 30” deep monstrosity that so often looks so out of place in a small kitchen. This cleaned up the appearance of their new kitchen even more, preserved uncluttered sight- lines, and gave them a high-end refrigerator to boot, suitable to their foodie lifestyle.

Thanks to sufficient headroom above where the stairs reached the basement floor, we managed to squeeze a bank of drawers in. The remainder of the wall separating the kitchen from the headroom of the stairs, was faced with cherry to match the rest of their chosen cabinets. By using a cooktop with a separate oven, we managed to make the best of the limited space. To replace the eating nook, we removed an old cabinet that was gobbling up too much kitchen space in the place where the range used to be. Instead, we installed additional storage space in the form of overhead wall cabinets with under-cabinet lighting, and a breakfast bar below, with barstools for the quick and easy meals. Any larger dinner events will take place in the adjacent dining room.

The bank of drawers on the left, holding essential equipment near the cooktop.

The bank of drawers on the left, holding essential equipment near the cooktop.

To keep pots and pans accessible, shelving and racks were installed on the wall opposite the range. I advocated for a smaller double-basin sink, but the owners insisted on a large, single basin so they could “wash their dogs”. Portlandia at its best!

Although they got a new micro/fan combo, we kept the old kitchen fan over the sink.

Although they got a new micro/fan combo, we kept the old kitchen fan over the sink.

This was a really fun project because we were able to do a lot with very little. The moral of the story is; Think outside of the Box. The benefits often far outweigh the expense, if you are willing to take the chance!

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About annamadeit

Born and raised in Sweden, my aesthetics and outlook on life are strongly shaped by a culture rich in history and tradition. I care a great deal about environmental responsibility, and my aesthetic reflects the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia. I was trained as an architect at the University of Cincinnati and as a color specialist at the Scandinavian Colour Institute in Stockholm. I'm obsessed with plants and gardens, and aim to take my skill set a step further by designing gardens as well as interiors. As someone so aptly said: " Architecture is the skin that separates the exterior from the interior". So true - you can't successfully focus on one without incorporating the other. I'm also an avid cook, and I love to ski. In addition, I put time and efforts into trying to rectify things that I feel are wrong in my immediate community. As you will see, The Creative Flux will touch on all these things, and more. For sure, it's all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blog!
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One Response to Nifty Kitchen Solution – 1

  1. Angela says:

    Nicely done Anna!

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