Fixing a Fixed Footprint

28 Mar 2019

This small kitchen is now living large.

By Heather Shoning Remodel Photos by Ron Ruscio Photography Kathy Smith loves to cook. In fact, she used to run a cooking school out of her home kitchen. But when she relocated to be near her son, she found herself in a small home that just didn’t work for her. She longed for a large kitchen, and a garden in which to grow a few staple ingredients. Her son had the yard she dreamed of, but with a young active family he didn’t have the time to care for it. So they did a house swap. However, “The kitchen was just not acceptable,” Smith says. The answer? A pop-top addition and home remodel by interior designer Tennille Wood, owner of Beautiful Habitat Interior Design & Decoration in Westminster. “This was a project that would’ve challenged even the most seasoned designer,” Smith says. Here’s how Wood transformed the 1910 bungalow into a two-story beauty, and Smith’s small kitchen into a chef’s dream.

Separation Anxiety

While a peninsula can sometimes offer additional storage, a work surface and seating, the kitchen’s original countertop offered no value. Because of its bi-level design, the counter created an uncomfortable separation between the kitchen and dining room. And since the space and counter were small, the bar seating was cramped. Rethinking the layout by removing the peninsula and replacing it with a center island created more room in the kitchen and better flow between it and the adjoining dining room. “The whole work triangle was moved to allow for better prep space, with the sink and refrigerator closer to one another,” Wood notes. The seriously small 11-by-7 footprint that could not be altered now feels much larger, thanks to the new configuration. “My style for cooking classes and entertaining has always been to put out large trays of food and let guests help themselves,” Smith says. “Now I have this gigantic island with one long, uninterrupted side that is perfect for a buffet.”

Pesky Pantry

A large section of the original kitchen housed an awkward corner pantry. Wood reclaimed the area for cabinetry as well as countertop prep space near the range. As a result, the kitchen feels lighter without the hulking “room” within the room. “Removing the pantry was tough,” Smith acknowledges. “It’s the backbone of any great kitchen, so we had to get creative about where to store the items I needed for everyday cooking.” To create additional storage, Wood specified 15-inch-deep upper cabinets instead of the standard 12-inch versions. The island is chock full of storage, including open shelving, which creates easy access to everyday dishes and makes the space feel light and airy.


Fixation on Finishes

The kitchen’s original appliances lacked functionality and appeal, so Wood upgraded them to offer the homeowner the restaurant-style experience she desired. Cherry cabinetry and white engineered-quartz countertops give a nod to the home’s period design, but with the performance Smith wanted. “I love everything we were able to achieve in this kitchen,” Wood says. “The new design is so much more functional for a highly used kitchen. And the warm, wood cabinets, marble-like countertops and light fixtures all honor the home’s original 1910 roots.”

Period Upgrade

The original exposed brick that comprises one wall in the dining room and kitchen had to remain intact. Its historical value, as well as the warmth and texture it brings to the space, was integral to the design. “It’s common today for someone to come in and scrape a home like this and build something contemporary to replace it,” the homeowner says. “I didn’t want to do that. It was important for me to keep the character.” To ensure the pop-top addition looked as though it had always been there, Wood carried the brick wall up through the second story and painted the original woodwork in a rich gray paint. She covered the windows in soft Roman shades that allow the brick to shine as the focal point. The round dining table afforded a little extra space that was needed in the high-traffic area, and its shape plays nicely against the original curved brick wall. Tennille Wood has received several awards for interior design, including a 2018 Peak award from the National Kitchen + Bath Association for this remodel. Contact her at The builder was Warren Cook of KSK Builders in Denver.  
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