Big Ideas for Small KitchensA small space can be a blessing in disguise for kitchen design
Small kitchens can be a little claustrophobic, particularly in the age of open architectural layouts. However, a dash of creativity and some sleight of hand design tricks can help make the most of the space and create the illusion of a bigger room.
In fact, the size of a room works to the user's advantage from a design and budget standpoint. People with large kitchens might find it cost prohibitive to do higher-end upgrades, but kitchens in a small space can be more ambitious because they require less materials. So go ahead, splurge on a marble floor or granite countertop.
There are bargains to be had in a contractor's scrap pile. Many of them save remnants of natural stone or quartz from larger jobs and sell them at deep discounts to people willing to accept smaller pieces.
Another shortcut is pre-fabricated granite that comes in planks already done with edge detail. A custom granite kitchen usually requires whole slabs of granite. Someone needs to make a template, have the fabrication done and then have it installed, says Lenny Sciarrino, president and CEO of Granite Gold in San Diego.
"With prefab, you just purchase the plank and then have it installed," he said. "The cutting and fitting is done on site, so the labor is less, too."
If the kitchen adjoins a family room, knock out a wall to open the space and put in a breakfast bar with little cubbies on the side, suggests Chris Roblin, owner of Chris Roblin Design in North Royalton, Ohio. This adds both a place to eat and some storage to compensate for any cabinets sacrificed in the elimination of the wall.
Choosing light colors helps, too, because dark colors make a room feel smaller. Get cabinets in a light wood or paint them white or beige, Roblin says.
But don't let that conventional wisdom trap you in a room that's devoid of color, says designer and popular blogger Kelly Morisseau, author of "Kelly's Kitchen Sync" (Springline Media, 2011).
"I've done kitchens in periwinkle blue, or had some bright tile element or used a caramel cabinet with terracottas and blues," she says. "It's all how it's designed together. Look to the rest of the world to see what colors they add. Many of their kitchens are not 'American-sized,' and they do quite fine with stronger colors."
It's critical in any case to have good lighting, Morisseau says. Ideally, a room should have one light source in the center of the ceiling and secondary sources that can be dimmed, redirected and otherwise manipulated to reach problem areas and highlight decorative focal points and work spaces.
Drawers also are a way to sneak in some appliance capacity. Refrigerator drawers, dishwasher drawers and warming oven drawers are on the pricey side and have mostly been used in larger homes, but they can fit almost anywhere.
"The drawers add extra value and convenience to the home without sacrificing a lot of space," said Steve Proctor, director of sales and marketing for appliance maker True, which recently won a Kitchen & Bath Industry Show award for one of its undercounter refrigerator drawers.
Hiding larger appliances behind cabinet doors is another solution. Big appliances can easily dominate a small space and chop up a room, said Roblin.
"French doors are better than traditional cabinet doors for those kinds of cabinets because then when you open them up, they're not so big in your face," she says.
By COURTENAY EDELHART
(c) CTW Features
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