5 Designer Tips for a Small Kitchen Remodel

Are you about to embark on a small kitchen remodel?
Alice Lane Home senior designer Suzanne Hall lists
five things to consider when designing a small kitchen.

kitchen remodel design

Elevated above the rest of the marble-topped island, the pedestal butcher-block counter made of walnut creates space for guests to enjoy a beverage while the homeowner cooks. The stovetop’s diamond backsplash literally mirrors the diamond stone fireplace that directly faces it in the adjoining living room. The open shelves on the back of the island offer more opportunities to display vintage collectibles. Continuing the cabinets to the ceiling makes a room feel taller and creates a soothing, seamless look. (Photo by Meikel Reece)

1. Open up the floor plan: Sometimes improving your layout demands taking an apparent step backward. During one kitchen remodel, Suzanne and Jessica filled in a wall of windows that provided plenty of natural light, but forced the space into an undesirable alley-like layout. The redesigned kitchen now receives sufficient natural light from a window on the left wall and a sliding glass door on the right, and it has a much more functional layout that “feels 100 percent more open than it did before,” Suzanne says.


2. Clearly define kitchen zones. Set aside specific areas for basic prepping, cooking and cleaning tasks, and equip them with well-placed recessed lighting and a functional, easy-to-clean countertop such as soapstone. Mark another area for eating breakfast, paying bills, enjoying afternoon tea or entertaining guests with comfortable seating and decorative lighting. “A cute pendant light or chandelier can signal that an area within your kitchen is a new space,” Suzanne says.


Jessica and Suzanne streamlined this kitchen by filling in its central wall of windows and moving its range from the stacked appliance wall on the left to the new central wall. To create an organic look, the designers kept the original exposed wooden beams and installed stained white oak cabinets and a new hardwood floor. Replacing the awkward alley-way island with a square-shaped model created space for both cooking and feeding the homeowner’s three daughters breakfast. Floating shelves open up a small kitchen and provide ample storage space for dishes and collectibles. Bottle green and lemon-yellow pop from the neutral white and warm wood palette. (Photo: Meikel Reece)

3. Install various materials at various heights to create depth. “A flat panel of cabinets may hide your junk, but it doesn’t attract the eye,” Suzanne says. “Make the plane interesting by having some cabinets protrude more or less than others.” She also suggests making an island’s different zones different heights and using a variety of island materials to create visual interest.


4. Invest in clever storage. You can persuade some traditional cabinet-makers to construct custom cabinets onsite to fit your kitchen exactly and “utilize every square inch of an empty cavity,” Suzanne says.


5. Pair function with aesthetic, which is especially crucial for high-traffic areas like your kitchen. For instance, the decorative pendant lights that set off your island’s eating breakfast zone need to be “not so big that you can’t see around them.” Also try displaying your treasured collectibles alongside your dishes on white floating shelves. When shopping for new pieces, only buy if you love it and it will work.

Learn more about how to plan a small kitchen remodel..

Written by Elaine K. Phillips

Photography by Meikel Reece


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