Schoolhouse Kitchen Design

I LOVE SMALL KITCHENS. 

LOVE THEM.

The wonderful thing about them is that there's hardly any room to spend a lot of money. So, the challenge becomes geometry more than anything. What's even better is starting from scratch. Tear it all out, put the water and electric where you want it and make an entirely reconfigured space. This kitchen started from this:

Luckily the slate was wiped clean. Almost everything was torn out including that door to the right. There was already another exit to the back deck so we didn't need the one in the kitchen. Fewer obstructions like windows and doors = so much room for activities! Here's the blank slate floor plan in which you can see the other doorway to the back deck (and basement) on the right. The original kitchen exit door was in the top wall on the rendering.

I went to work first on the layout.  This was one of the trickiest floor plans. The most obvious and frankly, the best possible scenario would have been to have a peninsula parallel the dining room (which is at the bottom of the rendering, out of the picture). However, this would mean either jamming the range and fridge together on the back wall (top of the rendering), or having the range in the peninsula.

Me no likey.

Putting the range in the peninsula would mean having a hood smack dab in the middle. I don't like that either. It blocks the view and clutters things up. Clutter is dumb. What to do!?!? I had to stop myself and demand that I think outside the box. Think of a different shape. Think of a different way. And then the clouds parted and the new layout was born. 

Like I said, it's not the ideal. The ideal would've been a nice bar area alongside the dining room, but that wasn't happening. In this new plan we get bar seating and space between all of the appliances. In order to have the bar next to the basement stairs and not feel like you were blocking the pathway, we used 12" wall cabinets that the contractor built up onto a base instead of using standard 24" base cabinets. Now the stools could slide under and out of the way. If you are sitting at the peninsula, you are 12" closer to the kitchen (further from the basement stairwell) than if you used standard base cabinets. 

Next was putting together a look. That was not so difficult. The schoolhouse-industrial vibe is big in Cincinnati, so I went with what the people (and I) like. I also wanted to make sure the small kitchen felt clean and spacious. So, I kept the color palette to black and white. Once you have a direction in your mind, it's a matter of plucking all the pieces that will make it happen.

Side note:

I knew Nicole at Revival Designs was going to be staging the home. I knew her stuff would look excellent in this space. Keep the appropriate decor and furnishings in mind! All kitchen designs can feel sterile if you don't consider the decor. I usually include items such as plants, kitchen gadgets and artwork in my designs so people can see how it will come together. Had I left out the cutting board, stool and the photo with the styled countertop, my client might not have been impressed. Design is not just tile and cabinets. You must be able to see the big picture.

The design turned out exactly as I had hoped. 

The floors under the layers of grossness were actually salvageable! I love how they run diagonally and much more interest than any tile could have provided.

This layout provides easy access to the kitchen from the dining room without having to walk around a peninsula. It also provides seating for three. Another bar stool can be added there on the end. Another perk of this design is the cost of the materials. You just can't get any less expensive than subway tile and black granite. Ok, you can, that's a lie. But, seriously these materials are both good quality AND classic design. There's always the allure of fancy tiles and higher end slabs, but usually it is unnecessary. 

And the ever popular before and after photo...

I love the simplicity of this design. Every detail from top to bottom was considered. It must've worked because this house, a house flip in Cincinnati, was under contract in 2 days! Did I mention I live in Phoenix? Long distance design is a thing. Design services for your space, wherever you may be, are available starting at $250. Click here for more info. More details about this kitchen are in the design board below. Click through to get info on each item.

Kitchen Redesign: Schoolhouse Modern

Jessie Deye, otherwise known as @gymgirljessie, and I have been talking about her space for several months now. Back and forth we’ve chatted about what should she do about the floors, what about the ceiling, the counter, etc. I finally put together a design for her which ended up being what I would call a Modern Schoolhouse Kitchen. I took the aspects she had already decided on, like white cabinets and dark floors, and added the rest of the pieces to finish the look. Like many homeowners, she was getting overwhelmed by the multitude of decisions she had to make and trying to get it all in under budget. Mood boards are really helpful because you can see the whole room all at once rather than just imagining how it will all fit together. Even more difficult, in her situation, is trying to make decisions for a room that is changing by the week! 

The Before

Jessie’s kitchen was once a dining room. Two walls came down opening it up to the living room and eliminating a hallway. The living room was once lofted to the bedroom above but will now receive a new ceiling closing it in. The ceiling in what will be the new kitchen was torn out to expose the 100+ year old beams. Soon she’ll have new beams next to old beams, which was also a source of mental anguish. Don’t worry, there is a solution.

The Blueprint

The Design

 

The Road Map

  1. Ceiling: The most difficult piece of the puzzle! Jessie and I went back and forth on this one. Paint the whole thing or don’t paint it? "Ruin" the 100 year old wood or not? Let the living room and kitchen ceilings live side by side in awkwardness of new boards and old boards? No. There was no solution. Until there was! Finally, after lots of searching, I found the answer. Paint some of it. Dun Dun DUN!!!! Seriously, though. Instead of doing it all or nothing, why not make it a statement…ON THE CEILING? Paint most of the ceiling so it ties the two rooms together, but leave a strip above the island unfinished. Imagine how your eye will be pulled up to this fabulous unfinished section of beams of the room. Now this section and the old as crap wood will be highlighted. IT WILL ROCK.
  2. Flooring: In order to save some cash, the pine floors will be refinished. A dark stain will help the floor fade away to showcase the exposed brick walls and fabulous ceiling. Sometimes dark floors are poo poo-ed for their ability to highlight dirt. But, since Jessie’s unit is at the top of the building, it’s likely most of any dirt that would be tracked in would be gone by the time anyone gets to her door.
  3. Cabinets: Shaker cabinets are easy to find these days and will be around for a long time making them a good choice. There will be a large island with seating which will hold the dishwasher and a microwave on the end. The cabinetry will also run the length of the back wall. Instead of upper cabinets, shelving will flank either side of the range hood. 
  4. Shelving: This is an opportunity to get some rustic barn wood into the design to balance out the newness of the rest of the kitchen. The gas pipe shelving has been a favorite of hers in the past, although she could opt for black iron brackets as well.
  5. Counters: Ideally, white marble counters would be awesome with this design, but maintenance is a concern. A good alternative is a whiter granite counter such as River White granite. 
  6. Backsplash: To keep things in budget, simple and with the schoolhouse theme, I opted for white subway tile. A good go-to. To spruce it up a bit, a darker gray grout would be a good option. It could run to the ceiling, but since the ceilings are 11 feet tall, I’d suggest running it to just below the first shelf.
  7. Furnishings: These stools are interesting with the bendy metal bases but have the fun spinn-y tops. Gotta give Jessie somewhere to spin.
  8. Fixtures and Hardware: The lighting has to be simple in a schoolhouse design. A couple of simple shape-y glass pendant lights will bring a little sparkle to the room without being bulky and intrusive. The faucet has a powerful, utilitarian look. The cabinet pulls are clean lined, pewter schoolhouse pulls that finish off the look.

So, that’s it. I can’t wait to see the final room which should be finishing up sometime this winter. Let's hope for some after pics!