virtual design

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 Design: Minty Vintage

The rental property I recently purchased is in the process of being updated. It was already in good condition, for a foreclosure, but needed a little fanc-ification. The location of the house is interesting. It sits on the edge of the most desirable neighborhood in Cincinnati and shares the same zip code. It is also just one block from a town square with restaurants, cafes and cute shops. In order to attract good tenants, I wanted to make sure the home was cute, comfortable and up to the standards of the nearby neighborhood. Most changes will be in the kitchen where it was in good condition, yet builder basic and boring. 

Before

Kitchen Before with Oak Cabinets
Oak Cabinets in kitchen Before Update

You see here that this kitchen is a snooze-fest. Nothing special or blingy here. We have oak cabinets, vinyl flooring, mismatched appliances and bright yellow walls. Everything in here is usable and in good condition. Not everything will make the cut, though. I want to make this kitchen attractive to potential renters looking in this area, but I still have to keep my budget in mind. Every dollar in is straight out of my pocket and not coming back for a long, LONG time. Everything I do to this kitchen must be attractive, but stand the test of time of tenants to come.

The Plan

I need to give A Lovely Lark props for inspiring this here plan. Why reinvent the wheel when someone has already made the wheel for you? Am I right? Still, there's a little more to it. I'll need to keep as much as possible in this kitchen. Luckily, there is a lot in this room I can work with. Let's get into the what and the why....

  • Cabinets: They are in great condition and clean. They're staying. A coat of paint will update them and will be easy to repaint in the future when they become dingy or dinged up. I'm painting the upper cabinets Behr Ultra White and the lower cabinets Behr Smokey Slate.
  • Walls: Every room in the house is painted a different color. It's like a clown house. Pro Tip: don't do that. It makes the house feel segmented and smaller. I'm repainting the whole place a nice neutral gray called Behr Silver Drop. 
  • Floors: While vinyl floors are not my favorite, they are in good condition and work with the new design. This house is on a slab, no basement. So, because there is concrete below the vinyl, not wood, I'm not as concerned about water damage as I would be if there were wood subfloors. 
  • Appliances: I'm not liking the mismatched appliances. What is good news is that they are all in good condition and the stainless steel range can be sold. That money can go toward a new matching white one.
  • Counters: This is where I'm breaking the bank for the bling. Granite. Yes, I'm taking out the decent laminate counters. There's debate on whether granite is in or out. Personally, I still like it. I prefer natural materials over fake stuff. Any investor within 100 miles would tell me I'm nuts. I don't care. I have my reasons. They are:
    • I think it will completey transform this kitchen. 
    • I think a renter will prefer it over laminate. 
    • I believe granite counters will hold up for many many years compared to the laminate when it comes to tenant use and abuse.
    • The laminate is ugly.
    • I want it. I mean it IS my house. I can do what I want with it.
    • The cost of the granite is comparable to changing out laminate a few times, which I will have to do every few years give or take depending on wear and tear by tenants.
    • Did I mention I want it?
  • Backsplash: I very much dislike splattered grease and junk running down a painted wall. It's impossible to clean. So, I'm adding subway tile with gray grout which should be easy to clean up. The gray grout will hide any staining unlike white grout which will yellow over time. Remember, I'm keeping this house for a long time so style and material longevity are important. 
  • Hardware and Fixtures: This house has glass doorknobs with brass collars. It's cute and antique-y. I want to play off of that with the cabinet hardware, so I went with vintage-y looking bronze knobs, pulls and faucet. I know these colors don't necessarily match, but matching is OUT in my opinion. My contractor is skeptical, but who asked him anyway? Don't even ask him his thoughts on the base cabinet color.
  • Accessories: I won't be staging this house, or adding any artwork, but I the Etsy print and potted herbs work with the vintage theme rounding out the design.

Luckily, we won't have to wait too long to see an after photo of this kitchen. Work is underway and should be complete with in a week. Stay tuned for the big reveal very soon!

Got ugliness? Want your very own custom design? Click that box right there...

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