A small kitchen gets a major upgrade

Living in Northern Virginia can often mean living in small spaces that are often outdated and dysfunctional. These clients came to us with a very common dilemma. Their kitchen was tiny and lacked functional storage for everyday living. The husband loves to cook but the couple was finding it difficult to utilize this space. This is their first home and they have plans of starting a family and moving to a larger space in the near future, so budgetary constraints were a consideration as well.


My first order of business was to remove the pantry from the corner it was tucked in. This would allow me to create a new pantry that was much larger and more easily accessible. It would also allow me to add cabinets and more functional storage to the entire perimeter of the kitchen. To keep costs down, we wanted to keep the basic footprint of the kitchen. The clients purchased a cabinet depth, French style refrigerator to assist with the space constraints and give them more storage. The sink and range stayed basically where they were, except the range was moved to the center of the wall to allow us to add a flat pan cabinet to the right of the range and a corner base cabinet on the left. When dealing with a small space, it is so important to utilize every nook and cranny as efficiently as possible. Because it is such a small space, however, we decided to add some custom-made shelves, open hanging pot racks, and the clients cleverly added a magnetic knife strip on the left side wall of the space. This helped to keep the space from feeling so heavy and overwhelmed by cabinetry.


The final trick we used in this small space was in dealing with the ceiling. In the ‘before’ pictures you will see that the existing lighting was very commercial in style. It consisted of a fluorescent fixture that put off little, and very unflattering, light. We created a custom faux tray ceiling by utilizing the space that the large fluorescent light was taking. We added accent rope lighting behind crown molding and accentuated the new architectural feature with a gorgeous semi-flush light fixture. The result is a unique architectural feature that adds charm, personality and most importantly, functional overhead lighting to the space. Recessed lights help to add focused task lighting where it matters most.

Overall, when dealing with a small space, particularly one the requires lots of function, like a kitchen, here are my biggest tips:

  • Get creative and try to utilize every nook and cranny of space for unique, creative storage. Try not to waste space wherever possible.
  • Make sure your appliances are as efficient and functional as possible. Consider cabinet-depth refrigerators, space-saving dishwashers and a range instead of wall ovens.
  • Lighting makes all the difference in the world. Make sure your lighting plan helps make the space brighter, particularly where it counts.
  • Don’t overwhelm the space with too much of one kind of storage. Mix and match closed storage with open storage to help keep the space from feeling too heavy.
  • Don’t be afraid to add a lot of style. Touches, like custom shelves, a faux tray ceiling, or contrasting tile in the perfect spot can make all the difference in the world.