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Going Topless…In Your Kitchen

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you know that the less-is-more look of the topless kitchen is hot!! When I say topless I mean no upper cabinets. There are certainly pluses and minuses to this design decision. But “how can I live without half my kitchen”, you ask.  Fear not. Today we will examine the possibilities. Read more



Panels around peninsula reflect architecture of the house. Cool bar stools by Kyle Wells Design.

Ta daaaaa!  Another beautiful kitchen is complete, and yes it’s white with Shaker doors.  Surprise!  Not.  There were two main challenges about working in this home.  First of all the architecture is very unique and is an integral part of the space.  It’s comprised of posts and beams, angles and open lofts which remind me of a ship.  The second challenge was a lack of unity with way too much going on visually.  The existing kitchen had three different types of counter tops, two different types of cabinets and more stuff than space.  In addition, hinges and drawer slides were failing and paint was chipping.

The homeowners came equipped with the most valuable of traits, an open mind.  They were willing to see their kitchen and laundry area in a new way.  Every step of the design process we would ask ourselves “does this unify and simplify”?  Think “nautical zen”!

First off I decided to make peace with the posts and beams.  The layout remained the same and we didn’t even change the door style or color!  What we did was improve the fit and function.  Using all white counters unified the space and allowed the blue granite back splash to be the star of the show.  Here are some “before” pix and “after” solutions which will pave the way for smooth sailing in this new kitchen.

This was the peninsula before. See the new and improved above!


This existing refrigerator just didn't fit. It overlapped the casing of the door on the right. This built-in model was not built-in!


Before we also had a traffic jam on the left of the fridge with beams, posts and different ceiling heights!


The homeowners had to face facts and downsize the fridge. What they gave up in space they made up in style. Oh, and they kept the other one in the garage. Now it's built-in and it fits! We dealt with the beam by allowing the refrigerator cabinetry to stand alone.

Traffic jam on the left is also solved. By clearing the beam we were able to go higher with the upper cabinet plus we added an appliance garage below to keep things neat and tidy.

This is Mindi showing off her new kitchen.


Before, radius drawers were failing from weight and inadequate slides and guess what? The cook top didn't fit either.


We unified the space by using matching cabinets and creating a proper fit for the new Wolf gas cook top. Acid etched glass subtly conceals contents of cabinets.


This is Max. He's into hockey, he likes to dream big and he loves to cook so he's really happy about the new kitchen.


We added some hidden conveniences. This is the spice cabinet extraordinare!


This is the pantry/laundry room before


...and here it is after.


Last but not least, this cute little family member was very accommodating through the entire process.



Sometimes we just can’t contain ourselves, or at least the contents of our kitchens.  If you’re someone who’s love for kitchen living  is at odds with an undersized space you’re reading the right blog.  Did you know small kitchens can be a good thing?  For example if you’ve organized efficiently you can work with more efficiency, taking less steps and with less movement than someone doing the same task in more spacious quarters.  That being said, there’s no denying that a few tricks are needed to achieve that high function.  Here’s what I recommend:
 –Maximize the interior storage that you do have.  Even older cabinets can be outfitted with roll out shelves or inserts to help you get into blind corners.  
These roll outs are an old trick that works!
My clients love this blind corner cabinet accessory!
 –Look up.  Do you have unused space above your cabinets?  Although it’s not handy for everyday it could be a great place for what I call “remote storage”.  Get those Halloween decorations up and out of the way to free up the prime real estate in your kitchen.  How about using some interesting containers to add a little visual interest over your cabinets while you’re at it?  Remember, remote storage doesn’t even have to be in the kitchen at all but wherever you have a bit of room.
Baskets above cabinets look great and hold a lot! Check out those open shelves. Photo by
Focus on the function.  If you have a small kitchen you have to pick a focus and approach everything towards that purpose.  If it’s for cooking then anything not related to cooking must be gone.  Sorry but that means the junk drawer, your bills (who wants to look at those anyway?), your meds and whatever else that doesn’t fit your main purpose.
Clear the decks.  If you have limited counter space think about what you can put away or up in a cabinet.  A general rule of thumb is if you don’t use it everyday put it away.
Open shelves are also great for items you use daily, or almost daily.  They make items easy to find and reach.  Dust is not a worry if you’re using these items all the time.  Open shelving also creates a more open spacious feeling.
See the light.  White is IN (and never really goes out of style in the kitchen.)  Use it along with cleverly placed mirrors and lots of lighting.
If you have a tiny dining area in your tiny kitchen make sure you’re using armless chairs.  Clear lucite is back and it’s a great modern furniture choice that practically disappears!  Last but not least, add a dramatic hanging light fixture to draw the eye up. 
It’s small and complete. Photo by ApartmentTherapy


The new sexy isn’t always sexual. In fact the Brits have coined the term “sex it up!” meaning to make something more interesting, attention grabbing or appealing. So, guess what? Now you can “sex up” your kitchen by updating and refreshing the look and function. Here are some tricks:

1) Roll outs Want easier access? Install shelves that roll out. These are great in the lower cabinets as well as in your pantry.

2) Open shelves can be extremely functional allowing you to view and easily grab and go.  I also love them for cookbooks and they break up the monontony of too many cabinet doors.

3) Color and texture  What’s more seductive than color and texture?  Think sleek stainless steel paired with a rustic tumbled marble backsplash or a RED quartz counter top in the midst of a clean white kitchen.  

4) Dimmable light fixtures above your cabinets can create a subtle glow.  Add them under your upper cabinets and they double as task lighting when turned up. 

5) Art is One of my favorite additions to any kitchen.  It’s a great way to personalize your kitchen and create visual interest.  (See my  3/18 post).

What are you passionate about in your kitchen? Dying to know and hoping you’ll share.
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