before and after

before and after: modern galley kitchen

by Kate Pruitt

If I had a long, narrow kitchen like the “before” here, I would opt for a galley-style floor plan almost identical to this one. Designed by architect Cindy Black for her clients Laura and Blake, this new kitchen boasts an ingenious use of space. What was once a cramped kitchen — with minimal counter space and numerous obstacles jutting out into the main walkway — is now a bright, airy and modern room with tons of space for cooking and storage. I particularly love the inset shelving above the sink, and the combo of warm floors and cool, ocean tiles, not to mention all that fresh white — dreamy. Amazing job, Cindy! — Kate

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Read the full post after the jump!

Time: I worked with Laura and Blake on the design process from January through March of 2011, and then we started interviewing contractors. The construction time took about 8 weeks, and I believe the cabinet maker started his work about 3 weeks before that. The family decided to move out and rent nearby, since this house is very small, and it wouldn’t have been possible for them to live there comfortably.

Basic Steps: To achieve this look, we drew inspiration from the long lines and efficient layout of the 1954 house. The existing kitchen faced the backyard, but had smaller windows. Its U-shaped configuration left very little work surface, and the corner cabinets were hard to access. In addition, the more recent appliance updates meant that the refrigerator stuck out like a sore thumb and blocked access to the dining, and the range had very little counter space on either side.

We changed the layout to a galley kitchen with extra-deep work surfaces on either side to narrow the space between counters. The laundry, pantry and house storage closet were organized into one clean wall of cabinets at the end of the kitchen. Another big design decision was installing two huge linear windows that faced the backyard in place of the smaller ones that were there. This brings so much light into the kitchen and allows those whites to really pop. We also introduced glass openings in the back door to bring in even more light.

After we figured out the basic functional layout, we moved to the finishes. From the beginning, Laura and Blake knew they wanted a mix of warm wood with bright whites. We took cues from mid-century color schemes and used a “Falcon Blue” tile from Clayhaus Ceramics for the new backsplash. The new cork flooring throughout the kitchen, living and dining recalls linoleum flooring typical from the 50s.

For people trying to tackle a similar project, I would advise them to make all design decisions before starting construction; this is good advice whether they hire a designer or not. Look at all your material samples and colors side by side, and make sure this is the look you are trying to achieve. Chose a contractor who has built in a similar style before. With modern design, a square peg doesn’t fit in a round hole . . . if a contractor only shows traditional work in his portfolio, don’t assume that doing modern will be “simpler!” Our contractor, Ruby Anne, did a fantastic job of interpreting the modern style and bringing all the details together in a seamless way. — Cindy

Contractor: Michael Winningham of RubyAnne Designs
Cabinet maker: Matthew Herndon-Prine and Patrick Sullivan of RubyAnne Designs
Wood countertops: Dan Vos of DeVos Custom Woodworking
Tile: “Falcon Blue” by Clayhaus Ceramics
“After” images by Whit Preston

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  • Wow. Absolutely gorgeous. I would kill for a kitchen like this. Love the backsplash, the clean lines, the brightness. What an amazing transformation! Thanks for sharing. :)

  • I can barely stand it! I need this kitchen! I, too, love the inset shelving, as well as the blue tiles. What a dream…

  • Incredible! Great galley kitchen…love that backsplash. The only thing I would add is a little plant life under those great windows to give it a more organic vibe…herbs or asparagus fern or something. Just lovely!

  • first: everything. second: the shelving on the sink side is such a novel idea.

    third: is the camera and/or design tricking us into seeing this room as gloriously longer than before, or did they actually move walls?

  • My god, I would never leave this kitchen. Gorgeous! I love the under-sink shelving and the opened-up space.

    Also, this is minor of course, but it was cute to see the same orange teapot in before and after :)

  • This kitchen is lovely! Ingrid- I think the room is the same size as before, what makes it look longer is the design trick of “forced perspective.” The hard lines of the edges of the counters immediately draws your eye down the whole length of the space at once, making it seem very long. Same thing as wearing pinstripes will make you look taller and thinner and wearing horiz. stripes will make you look…less tall and thin.

  • Now that is a SERIOUS transformation. Wow — I never would have thought those were in the same space. I really enjoy the cheapo DIY before and afters, but this shows that what happens with professional designers (and money). Fab!

  • Wow, I usually hate galley kitchens, but this was a brilliant change, especially the deep counter tops to provide counter level storage. The streamlining of the laundry area also looks brilliant and so much more organized…well the decluttering probably helped with the pictures. I was going to say that it could not be possible that the same people lived in those two kitchens, but the proof is in the orange tea kettle and blender. Well done!

  • Thanks everyone for your comments! Since we expanded the cabinetry along the length of the room, it definitely looks longer. The overall dimensions are 17′-10″ long by 10′-4″ wide. We made one adjustment to the length, which was to push back 9″ behind the washer dryer. This extra depth, as well as stacking the W/D, gives more room around that laundry area than before. We also removed the pantry and cleaning closets, which added bulk to the space.
    Colleen: I love the orange kettle too! :)

  • I wish my galley kitchen could look like this! Beautiful! What are the white counter tops made of?

  • Well done. Such fabulous design and we love how well all the materials work together. FYI, my husband Jason Coleman and I made the ceramic tiles shown here on the back splash. They were purchased from our distributor House & Earth in Austin, TX.

  • i totally thought that was original terazzo flooring – LOVE IT! such a great color for flooring, cork can be very difficult in a kitchen though, you have to be careful with it! i’ve seen too many friends with cork in kitchens or bathrooms and it comes up/warps/gets moisture in it VERY easily

  • I can’t even believe this is the same space. Envy, envy! Looks fantastic, so fresh. And those splashes of tangerine just make the whole thing pop!
    Hope you enjoy it!

  • I adore this. Being the owner of a 1951 ranch with an unfortunate 1970’s kitchen remodel, this really speaks my language! I bookmarked this – it is actually a perfect inspiration for my space!

  • Hi Everyone!
    The white countertops are Caesarstone Blizzard, and the wood tops are edge grain white oak with a waterlox finish.
    Megan: we love the tile and color options from Clayhaus! It turned out beautifully!

  • For once, I completely disagree. It looks dull. Extra deep shelving only means you forget what you’ve pushed to the back; I’m not a fan having lived in with a tiny kitchen with 12 inch counters that worked beautifully in practice. This would have been such an opportunity to put in a booth or do something to make it individual rather than the bland conformity of white cabinets and stainless steel.

  • I will definitely save this idea. We have almost the same type of space we want to convert. I love that the space turned into something really light and airy. The tiles and accessories bring in the zing of color it needed. It seems so really easily manageable. Well done!!!!

  • BRILLIANT! I love every single choice, and am impressed that you kept kept the same footprint of the house, yet achieved so much!

  • We love how clean this kitchen looks in the ‘after’ shots! The primary use of white is beautiful, especially when you look at the back-splash that is a contrasting bright and beautiful color!

  • This is undoubtedly one of the best before & afters I’ve seen on this site.

    I also love the inset storage behind the sink (immediately added to my imaginary dream-home), and I agree with Susan’s comment about greenery making a nice addition. That space in front of the windows is begging for some little planties!

  • Hi Rebecca,
    The range is a 30″ slide-in KitchenAid. We also looked at Bertazzoni, which has some great looking 30″ ranges.
    Hi Nell,
    I was also glad that Laura and Blake wanted to work within their 1,260 sf footprint. They easily could have built an addition in their big backyard, but ultimately we decided that their compact house is perfect for the family!

  • So nice! It looks clean and modern but at the same time it’s a warm and inviting place to cook and hang out.

    Any chance we can learn a breakdown of the budget for this project?

  • 10’4″ width is such a tough dimension to work with in a kitchen, it pretty much has to go galley, maybe with an penisula. And then you have an almost too wide 6′ clear -using the countertop shelf/open cabinet is a great way to get all that light in, get some storage and make the counter to counter connection. Nice work, bright. Happy for you.

  • WOW! Big difference! I love the finished product! The white makes it look so modern and clean! I must say the blue tile backsplash definitely works better with the white kitchen than the yellow and brown set up.

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    Wishing you and yours ( and your kitchen ), a very lovely Holiday Season :)

  • Such a stunning transformation. Inspiring for me while planning a kitchen re-design. Can you tell me what drawer system you used and what brand is the ranghood extractor fan? I would love to know a budget breakdown also.

  • Do you feel like a trip to Australia to do this exact kitchen? It’s exactly what I am planning to do with the exact space! Thanks for sharing… Will give you all the credit!

  • Honestly not a fan! Too white! To Sterile! This needs color or something, its too 2002! Needs to be brought in the future or the past, but not so 10 years ago.

  • Thanks for sharing this. It is a great series of photos, and a fabulous article. Really really useful for people to see what smart design and quality joinery can create for a space that was anything but functional or visually appealing. I’ll be forwarding this to potential clients for inspiration. Congratulations to all involved.

  • The kitchen design is absolutely gorgeous. The shelves behind the sink are very innovative. May I ask what the dimensions of the shelves are and did you have to use a think stone backsplash where shelf meets counter to protect shelves from water? Thanks.

  • Cindy was very kind in responding that the shelf is 12″ deep and the backsplash was a 1.5″ Caesarstone quartz. Thank you so much Cindy.

  • How deep are the open concept cubbies at the back of the sink counter?
    I’m assuming a regular 24” cabinet depth plus the depth of the horizontal bar of cubbies.

    How much space is between each side of the galley kitchen? (Space between counters from sink to stove)