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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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