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Small kitchen

Posted by jill314 (My Page) on
Fri, Mar 28, 14 at 16:01

I've have posted questions a few times over the past several months and have received very helpful, gracious responses. So thanks for that. :)

A while back I posted for help on the decorating end of things. I think the floor plan is pretty well set, but choosing colors/finishes is going to be the death of me. I have a really hard time picturing things in my head! When I did ask for help previously, it was recommended that I post some photos, so I'm doing that now.

Our home was built in 1937 and has nearly all the original woodwork and floors. My uncle, who is a design-type, visited and classified it as "arts & crafts-y," IIRC. Our kitchen is quite small and knocking out walls is not an option. I would love some ideas for what to do as far as cabinet finishes, countertops, floors, etc. What I do know is that we'll get all white appliances and a stainless steel sink. I am leaning toward quartersawn oak cabinets (though not sure how light/dark) and quartz countertops. My main concerns are:
1. make the kitchen look like it fits in the house
3. I lean toward a traditional look, but not outdated. (Though, does anyone actually say they want something outdated? ;))
2. don't make it look smaller than it is!

The kitchen will be joined to the dining room through an archway (currently a doorway, which we will be widening). The dining room has French doors to a porch, with very dark wood trim, matching the rest of the door and window frames throughout the house. The dining room also has a light wood floor (oak?), and then the living room, which is on the opposite end of the dining room from the kitchen, has medium wood floors (in need of refinishing, though that is neither here nor there...).

This first image is standing in the space between the kitchen and the dining room, looking into the dining room (with living room beyond). Dark-framed French doors are on your left. The table/chairs will be replaced relatively soon because all the chairs are falling apart. (!) So we are not planning around them in the least. The arch between the kitchen and dining room will mimic the one between DR and LR, but a bit narrower. You can see the light floors, dark trim (including baseboards) in DR and in the LR beyond, stone fireplace (with dark trim), etc.
 photo _MG_3434.jpg

These next two images are of the current kitchen. In the first one you can see the door from the kitchen into the hall. In the second, the one and only window. The placement of everything will stay more or less the same.
 photo _MG_3436.jpg
 photo _MG_3435.jpg

If I can figure out how to post a jpg of the floorplan for the remodel, I will come back and do that.

Thanks so much for any help or suggestions that you have for me!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Small kitchen

Here is the proposed floorplan. Sorry it is so small!
 photo kitchenlayout1.jpg


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RE: Small kitchen

I think most people today would choose shaker style cabinets for an arts and crafts house.

Question: are you happy with the footprint our are ether things in places that you hate? Also, is there anything you wish you had that you don't? Try to give us your full wish list. It'll cause less back and forth (function wishes....aesthetics can come later)


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RE: Small kitchen

I think that you are giving up too much drawer space for the microwave. You only have one 30" drawer for cutlery etc. Can you possibly put the microwave below the wall cabinet above the dishwasher?


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Kitchen in my first house was 8x8 with a window and two doors. So I hear you about small kitchens.

I think less contrast to stop the eye from moving around the room helps. So if it were my kitchen, I would consider white cabinets, white appliances, a mid-range color countertop and a white backsplash. I also think open shelves in place of at least some of the upper cabinets helps.


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I agree with the white, but you could get some reeeeally cool hinges and pulls/knobs in true craftsman style. I am not much help with the rest of it, sorry...


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Ooo! Your lovely house reminds me of Ship4u's house and this was the kitchen redo. Always love this one and maybe you can find something inspiring in there, too!


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Your home is very pretty! I think painted cabinets look very traditional, in a good way. I wonder if this kitchen might have some good ideas for you?

Here is a link that might be useful: Ikea Upgrade: The SemiHandmade Kitchen Remodel


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Also, I would avoid crowding your window with uppers too much. My kitchen is smaller than yours, but I just removed the uppers around the window to give it a bit of breathing space. You don't want to feel like you're in an oppressive box of cabinets.


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It's so funny. You have cabinets that are authentic to the home, so replacing them with something similar would be the most appropriate; but in my mind's eye I really see inset cabinets as the correct fit for an older home. Something like the image below. White cabs with dark counters and some color in the bs tile


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Thanks so much for all the responses!

I am happy with the floorplan. I know it is not much drawer space, but we plan to put in cabinets in the dining room soon that will help with storage. We will likely put most of the "eating" dishes/cutlery in those cabinets since that is where they will usually be used. I am pretty sure I want the microwave under the counter, because I have 4 small children. If it is up high, it will be a while before they can use it. At the same time, I don't want it on the counter. In particular, the counter above the dishwasher will be the "landing space" for dirty dishes (I HATE HATE HATE having them in the sink). And I don't think I can give up any of the other counter space. The only non-under-counter option that I think is doable is having it in the dining room... so I'll have to think about that.

So... several suggestions for white. I sort of like white. But I reeeeeally like wood cabinets. Which would mean quite a bit of contrast with the white appliances... hm. Stainless steel just seems like a bad idea with kids, right? Is it just going to be a bad idea to do wood cabinets and white appliances in a small space?

deedles, thanks so much for the photo. The dark wood and white walls do look like my place. I will look for more photos of that one!

feisty, thanks very much for the link! (And also for looking past the kid-clutter and complementing my house. :)) And good point about the cabinets near the window. As you can see in the photo, currently there are just open shelves up there. I'm not sure I want to give up all of that upper cabinet space... perhaps having glass doors on the cabinet over the dishwasher would open up the look some.

EAM44 - that is a really pretty color scheme. I have seen several photos that I like with butcher block; maybe I should look into it more. Hmmm.

Thanks, all, for your responses. This is very helpful! (My husband, on the other hand, is not much help at all, though very encouraging.) :)


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If you like butcher block that might be a great way to bring wood into a kitchen with white cabinets. ;)

But if you love wood cabinets, you should have them! My stainless appliances vary in how they handle fingerprints (whether kid or mine). My Bosch dishwasher is somewhat dreadful. My frigidaire refrigerator and range are great.

If you want dark wood, I would consider black appliances. If pale wood, white or stainless. And if medium wood, I think stainless would blend best. Regardless, with wood cabinets, I would consider panelling the dishwasher to help it blend in.


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Cute kitchen for a craftsman:

White appliances with wood


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I love craftsman houses. They always feel warm and inviting to me. I also have a small kitchen, and while I went with painted cabinets (light blue) if I hadn't gone with painted cabinets, I would've have really put thought towards the cabinets being the color of the wood on the trim and door in your dining room. I don't believe that you can make a space "look'" smaller than it is (unless you cram too much into it, in which case, you're not making it look small, it actually is small and you're putting it's smallness on display), especially not with color. You can make it look dark, but if you want darker cabinets I'd just balance that out with backsplash, wall color and possibly countertops.

I have Frigidaire stainless steel appliances and they are smudge proof. I clean them easily with a sponge if I see a mark on them (unfortunately, nothing is dog nose proof). I would imagine they're not the only company that is smudge proof..... however, if you like white (which I do as well) I would go with white.


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I would agree with Shaker style cabs. You can get them without handles, they have finger cutouts underneath. I have them, don't recommend that, handles are better. Light wood is always a good choice, something on the color of the dining room floor would help tie the rooms together, and you could extend the wood floor into the kitchen. You current cabs look too close to the counters, and that is also a consideration. You could move the microwave next to the stove on left. Assuming you'll have more lighting. You'll regret move a mw to dining room. On your upper cabs, will the ones on each side of the window be more than 8 inches away? I think you may re-think it, you only have the one natural light source. Have you decided on a color for the walls and/or backsplash? I read somewhere on color and how it makes you feel, yellow and orange (or lighter shades) are the top choices for kitchens. I painted mine from and almost undetectable blue to peach, and I love the difference. We love your photos, it really helps to see what we're talking about. Wish you good luck and good contractors!


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LOVE the third one down that Iowacommute posted. The whole Houzz tour of that home is wonderful! That kitchen was kind of an inspiration to me in my redo. Also love the first one that mags posted, too. Oozing charm and coziness.


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I think quartersawn oak is perfect in a craftsman. I like it with the white uppers above, which would tie in with your white appliances as well.


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Flooring - although it may seem counterintuitive, I would decide on this first since it will dictate a lot about the space. I went through that process and realized that my flooring decisions were critical to the kitchen design, especially since I removed some small partition walls.

Since your kitchen will be more open plan than before you may want to consider continuing the dining room flooring into the kitchen. I just had that done and it was a big job. Like you - my main living area hardwood really needed refinishing so I had them 1. pull out the tile in the kitchen 2 repair the concrete 3 install subflooring and 4 interlace new flooring planks into the existing hardwood and 5. site refinish the whole hardwood area so that the kitchen flooring was continuous with the dining/living flooring. It is so great to have my other floors refinished and now it's a totally seamless look - you can't tell where the new and old planks transition!

But, if you have your heart set on wood cabinets, I would think twice about also having wood floors in the kitchen. Think about what you'll be seeing from the dining room though - a lot more of your kitchen than you're used to, if I'm understanding correctly.

I had wood living/dining floors with tile floor/wood cabinets in the kitchen at the end of the open space. Ultimately, I decided to prioritize the sense of flow in the space by having the wood on the floor instead of on the cabinets.

If you decide against wood floor in the kitchen, black and white checkerboard flooring in the kitchen is super cute, looks nice with wood cabinets, and is available in many traditional flooring options including Marmoleum (linoleum not vinyl), tile, or even painted wood.

I (and others) posted a lot of photos of flooring in a thread about a 1940s kitchen - see link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Designing Around Existing Cherry Cabinets


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Like you I am working with a very small kitchen and I had to make the most of the space. I went with IKEA cabinets and custom fronts - installation is in process and will be for a long time!

IME, the size of corner cabinet in your plan 33x36, doesn't function very well. The opening is too small to use the space efficiently. I had similar tradeoffs to yours with a small window wall - in my case that had to hold a corner cabinet, sink, dishwasher and fridge. Ultimately I chose a 37x37 corner cabinet fitted out with a 32" pole-less super susan. It is soooo much better than what I had before. I will be storing all of my pots and small appliances in it.

In order to make space for that I downsized to a 24" sink cabinet. I managed to fit a 25" single bowl Ruvati undermount sink into that cabinet (the actual bowl does fit in the cabinet, the top flanges overlap and require cabinet trimmed - this kind of thing is frequently done). The new sink is wonderful. I don't miss the double sink at all and I feel like I have a much bigger sink even though the width of the sink and cabinet is smaller.

In a small kitchen, all the space needs to be usable. I am not increasing the actual cubic footage of my storage that much, but I know it will function MUCH better because of HOW things will be stored.


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I'm planning to put the microwave below-counter, for the same reasons as you. I'm hoping to put a microwave in a 24" cabinet and you can see where I got with that in my thread that you can access through my clippings.


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I would try to make your kitchen beautiful and a pleasure to work in and don't overprioritize storage. I think your idea to have some storage in the dining room makes total sense - I'm planning to do the same. Low cabinets are great for children helping with putting dishes away, setting the table, etc.

I'm planning to make a "fauxdenza" like this:

Instead of the 12" deep AKARUM upper cabinets that are sometimes used for this, I will use the 15" deep Besta IKEA cabinets that can be wall mounted. The tops are finished if you don't want to add the top panel.

Here is a link that might be useful: IKEA Besta fauxdenza


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Your range will be a focal point of the kitchen, visible from the dining room. I would carefully consider what you want to see. A white Bluestar RNB range would be a traditional-looking choice. Here's one of the whites in a larger size:

I have this range (in stainless) and it is WONDERFUL. Then if the budget is hurting after that, pick less expensive fridge/dishwasher or re-use what you have.


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Oak cabinets are beautiful and hide the dirt.

Because I now have oak floors though, I didn't want to overdose on wood and add natural wood cabinets. Instead, I am planning grey stained cabinets to give the feeling of wood without overdoing it.

Here are some cerused cabinets - just bringing it up as an idea that is a compromise between natural wood and paint.


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With respect to your uppers around the window - to open up the area a little - don't have the upper cabinet on the left side turn the corner rather, just have it end into the corner - like you do now..

Then on the right side - instead of having that upper cabinet facing into the kitchen turn it and have it face the other wall. (It should remain the same size of 12" x 24") Then if you were to put some sort of glass in those two end cabinets it would be like you were extending the window and light will be reflected off of the glass from the outside.


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I really like your suggestion blfenton!

Keep in mind that much of the space in a corner upper cabinet is quite difficult to access!


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Wow, what a lot of helpful responses here! Thanks to you all SO MUCH!!

CRL, what a great idea about paneling the dishwasher. I hadn't really known that was an option; now I am LOVING it (although it does make the dishwasher more expensive than I was budgeting for). I'll definitely try to get that in the budget as I think it would really help with the overall look.

magsnj - thanks for the cute kitchen photos! It is helpful to see them; I have done a ton of internet searching, but was having trouble finding helpful photos.

carolssis - I do like a shaker style. And yes, you are correct, currently our wall cabinets are installed quite close to the counters (I think about 14"-15" up). And the base cabinets are shallow (about 20"-22"), so it is a bit claustrophobic to work on the counters now. The new ones will be the standard dimensions. In the floor plan I posted, there is, I think, 6" between the wall cabinets and the window frame. You are not the only one to suggest giving more space around the window so I will think hard about that! And, yellow I think would look nice. I love blue, but I am getting a little tired of it at this point!

Iowa commute - thanks for the photos! Very helpful to see them!

lori_inthenw - seeing these photos people have posted, I have been thinking 1/4sawn and white uppers would look nice. Thanks for the suggestion. :)

feisty - thank you for all the thoughtful suggestions. I have been leaning more toward continuing the dining room flooring into the kitchen. I'm not sure it's in the budget to refinish the dining room floors (and they are in good shape, in contrast to the living room ones), but I'll ask our contractor if he thinks we'd have a good chance at matching without refinishing.

I played a bit with a 33x36 corner Susan at Home Depot and it did seem big enough... Although I think I could still get the sink I wanted in a 27" cabinet, so maybe 36x36 would be better (though it would not be quite as symmetrical). Maybe I should take my small appliances, pots, pans, etc. to Home Depot and see how many I can stuff into the 33x36. :)

For dining room storage, we will probably have our cabinetmaker build something. Unfortunately Ikea is not a viable option as the closest one is 4-5 hours away. (!) I think you are right to point out that we should take into consideration the effect of opening up the kitchen/dining room area more. I honestly hadn't given it a ton of thought as far as the overall look of things. But I should!

blfenton - it honestly never would have occurred to me to turn the cabinet over the dishwasher, but what a great idea! Maybe that cabinet could even have a door on the "short" side too... I will have to draw up some pictures and play with it a bit. Thanks for the suggestion.


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Looks like you have received many good suggestions. One thing is that I don't think you can install a dishwasher flush against the wall. Imagine you'd need about 3" filler between it and the wall, but as I am not a KD, I'd check on the requirements for that. In a small kitchen, symmetry can be overated and not necessary between the uppers and lowers and 9-12" cabinets are both pricey and don't provide good storage. On the upper wall, I would get rid of the easy each and just put in 3 cabinets with equal sized doors. Using custom cabinets will allow you to really make the most of your space and not be locked into the 3" increments since you have a lot of walls to work around.


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Oh! Thank you for that information about the dishwasher. I will have to look into that before I get my heart set on a specific floorplan!

Thanks also for the advice on the uppers.


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Just my humble opinion. Your home style is Arts and Crafts. I'd go with your 1/4 sawn oak cabs. upper and lower, it would be more in keeping with the home style. And again, traditional white appliances. To break up the cabs. with one upper color and a different color on lower cabs. will change the look to more modern. Having a stainless sink really isn't much of a deal breaker because it's presence isn't noticed as much as stove, dishwasher and fridge. Keep it traditional with Arts and crafts, and get your wood. You won't be using a dark wood, so it shouldn't make it seem smaller or darker.


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Jill314, I also have a very small kitchen and made the choice to have a smaller corner cabinet in order to have a wider drawer stack, and so far I don't regret it. Mine is 35x33 and, although I can't just sling things into the cabinet, I can and do store a lot with no problem. The opening is 12" across. My biggest problem comes from the fact that the drywallers messed up our measured space -- added too much to the walls -- so the base cabinets didn't fit as planned, so I have a tighter space for opening and closing the corner door-- the stove projects further than it was meant to -- I have to be careful. However, I keep my large soup pots, my crockpot, blender, chopper, nutribullet, sodas, sports drinks, protein mix, wine, cutting boards and trivets, plus some pantry overflow there. Because it is not a huge cabinet, also, I can reach things in the rear fairly easily and don't miss the lazy susan (that may change when I am closer to 70 than 60!)

My sink base is 30" and because that is where my trash, recycling and compost bins are, I don't think that I would want to go smaller -- well, I could, actually, but I love my 28" sink and wouldn't want to go smaller than that (after living for years with a 25").


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Not to discourage the wood cabinets, because I do believe they are appropriate and you should have what you love! But white cabinets are also totally appropriate to a bungalow or arts and craft home. (I have the original kitchen in a 1926 French revival with painted white cabinets.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Article with photos


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carolssis - thanks for the encouragement. :)

raee - thanks for sharing about your corner cupboard experience. If it would not be too much trouble, would you mind posting a photo of the interior of your sink cabinet? Do you have pull-outs for the trash/recycling?

crl - thanks for linking that very interesting article!

If anyone is still reading - I am thinking now of adding some glass fronts to some of the wall cabinets to open things up a bit more. Can anyone give me an idea of how much more expensive this will be (the cabinetmaker I have spoken to doesn't have a phone, so I can't call and ask him)? He gave me an estimate of $8300 for the cabinets as drawn on the floorplan above in regular oak; estimated 10% more for cherry or quarter-sawn; if we added some glass would it significantly increase the total, do you think?


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Perhaps another photo for inspiration.


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Jill, I'm not sure I'd want to give $8300 to a tradesperson who can't be reached by phone :/ .

What I meant about the non-functional corner cabinet - the inside was large and *theoretically* could hold a lot. The issue was that the opening was too small to be convenient to get large items into. It was really hard to get items that fell of the lazy susan as well, because it was hard to reach into the cabinet through the small opening.

If you want to blend kitchen hardwood seamlessly into the existing hardwood, you'd pretty much have to refinish the whole thing. I don't think refinishing the whole area added much to the cost of what we did - once they are already sanding/refinishing a new area, it's not a big deal to do more. In some ways it would be harder for them to just stop the sanding/refinishing at a certain point.


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Not sure if you've considered this, but I'd look into IKEA boxes and Semihandmade doors/drawers. There are posters on gardenweb who've gone that route with amazing results.

Here is a link that might be useful: Semihandmade doors/drawers


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Swtceleb - ooh that is very pretty! Thank you for sharing!

Feisty - he is Amish, hence no phone. I can drive the 5 minutes to his shop and talk to him if I really need to. So it’s all good. :)

That’s good to know about refinishing the hardwood. I figured it would be basically twice the cost to do the two spaces; nice to know that isn’t necessarily the case. I'll definitely ask about it when our contractor/friend comes to hear our plans. Thakns for your additional corner cabinet thoughts - I am thinking about going with a 36 x 36 Susan in the corner (instead of 36 x 33) and making the sink cabinet a little smaller - today has been a day for looking at sinks and trying to weigh pros/cons there!

Nosoccermom - the closest Ikea is 4-5 hours away, so we are unlikely to use their cabinet boxes. From the pricing estimate on the site, it looks like we probably wouldn’t save much money… I will at least tell myself that so I don’t spend too much time wishing we were closer to Ikea. :) It does look like an interesting idea though, and a good money saver for many, no doubt!


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So many great suggestions. I'm not sure I have anything helpful to add except that I have a 1920s house. And a very small kitchen. When we updated, we did not change the floor-plan nor did we knock down walls. I actually like kitchens that are separate from the rest of the house. Our first house (also 1920s) had a kitchen with a *gasp* door that closed and I loved it.

Our current kitchen is actually quite open to the house thanks to earlier renovations by previous owners. I actually tried to get my husband to let me close up a not original 'opening' to the back of our house. I digress.

My point is that your home is charming and you can update and work with the space you've got. I am a big fan of painted cabinets and given that you only have one window, I would worry that the room might feel dark with stained cabinets. That said, I notice that your millwork elsewhere is not painted and stained cabinets would blend nicely with all that great wood trim! I could see a nice painted cabinet in a color with wood counters also looking great. And yes- I think adding some glass cabinets would open things up a lot.

Also, put drawers everywhere you can. I made every lower cab except the sink base drawers and I do not regret it one iota.

I can't wait to see how this project progresses.


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