Does this scenario sound familiar? You’re scrolling through Pinterest and Houzz in pursuit of your latest obsession: searching for remodeling ideas. Suddenly you hit upon an enormous dream kitchen that causes you to gasp and makes your heart skip a beat. After you close your jaw, you sigh with resignation, convinced that no amount of renovations to your current house could yield such spectacular results. Well, despair not. Sometimes all it takes is the right designer to re-imagine your space in ways you never would have envisioned. Yes, you can transform your average-sized kitchen into a room that lives large! Luckily, Bilotta has an abundance of creative designers that can show you the way. As Dante once wrote, “From a tiny spark may burst a mighty flame.”
When you see the “before” photos of this New York City kitchen by designer Tabitha Tepe, it’s barely recognizable as the same space. The old kitchen contained nooks and niches that resulted in a choppy, disjointed space.
The real genius of this design is the counter-intuitive move of actually removing space instead of adding it. Sometimes less really is more. By closing off the awkward areas, Tabitha created more continuous countertop surface, more wall space for storage, and allowed for a spacious island in place of the confining peninsula. The new space is linear and symmetrical, and has an easy flow for cooking and entertaining.
The original brick wall was retained for its texture and authentic loft flair, but was painted white to draw light into this windowless interior kitchen. Since the room was too narrow for cabinetry along that side, shallow open shelving provides the perfect spot for plants and decorative accessories. Trendy brushed gold touches in the hardware and lighting contribute to the cool vibe consistent with its downtown location.
Senior designer Tom Vecchio was faced with a closed-in U-shaped kitchen that less inventive minds would have assumed offered few options, since the wall facing the “U” contained two below-counter-height windows that couldn’t be altered. Tom was undeterred by that obstacle. He removed the peninsula and instead placed an “island” against the wall between the windows, totally ignoring the fact that both sides of the countertop would slightly overlap the windows.
The island is home to the sink and dishwasher, and even includes additional storage under the seating overhang. In this new configuration, the kitchen now offers direct access to the apartment’s entrance. Without the circuitous route around the peninsula, the improved flow immediately makes the space feel larger. Choosing sleek modern cabinetry in a whisper-soft shade of gray also added to the voluminous feeling of the space.
In another inspired repurposing of space, Tom Vecchio widened the kitchen by stealing some square footage from the former breakfast area. This resulted in plenty of room for an island, with a desk area and a cozy banquette tucked into the corners on either side of the island. The kitchen now functions as a unified whole. Two tiled backsplash niches flanking the cooktop add depth and interest.
This design also proves that you don’t have to go the all-white contemporary route to create the impression of more space. The beveled frame-and-panel doors, as well as the cherry wood on the base and tall cabinets, are decided nods to traditional style. But the light finishes on the floor, countertops, backsplashes, and upper cabinetry bring balance and light to the design.
Designer Peter Bittner was challenged with updating a fairly small kitchen in a 1950’s Tudor without enlarging the footprint or detracting from the period detailing in the rest of the home. The homeowner was very clear about what she wanted: a simple yet elegant plan for her young family that was as efficient as it was beautiful.
Her wish-list included radiant heating in the floors, an island with seating, professional appliances, and a beverage fridge. A tall order indeed for such a modest space! The biggest impediments to realizing her dream of an improved layout were a swinging door into the room and a stairway leading to the basement. The solution? Eliminate the door and relocate the stairs. Once that was accomplished, the path forward became more evident. One side of the kitchen was designated as the prep area, with the island anchoring the time-honored work triangle: it even holds a microwave drawer and the beverage refrigerator.
The island overhang is now the perfect spot for the kids to grab a snack or do their homework. However, the room’s relatively narrow dimensions didn’t allow for full-depth cabinetry along the back wall. No problem! Peter designed shallow tall and base cabinets to serve as pantry storage and to compensate for the limited number of wall cabinets.
Transitional styling was accomplished with a modified stepped Shaker door in white on the perimeter and a medium gray in the island. Gray-veined quartz is a practical surface around the perimeter, while solid white provides contrast at the island. And nothing says “timeless classic” like white subway backsplash tiles to complete the transformation.
There are occasional times when a homeowner comes to the table with a vision from which the designer can draw his inspiration. Such was the case when designer Goran Savic’s client announced that design and an expansive feeling should be prioritized over the prevailing “more storage” maxim. Although the kitchen was opened up to afford a view of the beautiful sculptural staircase, cabinetry was limited to a modest “L”-shaped footprint with an island. But not just any island: curved cabinetry in cherry that references the curves of the staircase and its cherry newel post and railing.
While the rounded shape doesn’t contribute much to storage, it provides plenty of room for seating and definitely makes a strong design statement. More seating can be found in the comfy cushioned banquette (with storage drawers below).
That’s a perfect spot to grab breakfast or even read a book. The unique piece here is the custom table at the banquette. Its beveled oval cherry base and double stainless-steel column supports are evocative of a luxury Art Deco yacht and echo the curved island. Goran utilized a number of space-enlarging visual devices as part of his design arsenal. Open shelving and glass upper sections on the wall cabinets prevent the frequent claustrophobic effect of all solid doors. Installing the wall cabinets higher than usual created a larger backsplash that helps offset the normal feeling of countertop clutter. Of course, nothing opens up a room like the inclusion of abundant natural light, but choice of materials also plays a huge role. Here we have a bleached stain on the wood floor, white cabinets, pale-colored countertops and backsplash tiles, and clear glass pendants, all of which enhance the airiness of this stunning new room.
“A place for everything, and everything in its place” is an axiom we’ve certainly all heard. There’s no doubt that clutter is the antithesis of serenity in our surroundings. Creating an orderly uncluttered space was senior designer Danielle Florie’s goal for opening up a formerly cramped U-shaped eat-in kitchen. But first she had to carve out some extra square footage. It was agreed that the adjacent formal dining room was dispensable and could be sacrificed for the cause. The dividing wall came down, a new doorway was inserted, and now the room had a cleanup area and a prep zone. Running the cabinetry on the cooking wall straight through the old dining room elongates the space. Even with the cabinets that serve as a buffet, that section can still accommodate a generous dining table. Additional seating is available at the island that also contains the microwave, a prep sink, and a wine fridge on the seating side. Prevailing opinions assume that imposing elements will make a room seem smaller.
But here a bulky piece was used to provide balance and corral clutter. The 42” refrigerator was placed to the right of the cooking zone, close to the table. It’s covered with matching panels to minimize its mass. Bringing symmetry to the left of the cooktop is a tall 48” cabinet, but it holds a secret. The right side is a pullout pantry, but the left side conceals a hidden countertop for using small appliances, as well as pullouts and adjustable shelves for canisters and other items that normally crowd work surfaces. Cabinets were deliberately stopped short of the ceiling to create depth beyond the cabinet fronts in the relatively narrow room. From a distance, the base and tall cabinets appear to be a solid color; they’re actually fabricated from a durable laminate with a subtle linen-look pattern for softness. The use of high-gloss white on the uppers, with white marbled countertops and backsplash, complete the clean, airy look.
Sometimes there’s just no way to spread out when additional storage is a prerequisite for a kitchen renovation. If you can’t build out, then maybe the solution is to build up! This was the case when senior designer Jeff Eakley was charged with helping an interior designer client remodel his own NYC loft apartment. Space here was at a premium: one long wall at the end of the open living area, and a short return wall squeezed against a structural column.
Fortunately, the loft was blessed with enviably tall ceilings. Jeff installed a second tier of wall cabinets to take advantage of the available height, then incorporated a rolling library ladder to provide easy access. This homeowner loves to entertain, and didn’t want to give up so much as a single inch of living room space. The island had to function as both prep space and dining table. However, the standard island with eating overhang might have felt too imposing when juxtaposed against the low living room seating. So, Jeff and his client bravely resisted the temptation to include storage in the island, and opted instead for a counter-height dining table whose finish coordinated with the cabinetry.
The double pedestal supports create a transparency that allows for a clear sight line from the living room straight through to the back wall. Since the kitchen takes center stage in the entertaining area, a moody and dramatic sensibility were the order of the day. Rich dark finishes make the space recede, but layered textures ensure that it’s still the star of the show. The base cabinets and refrigerator section are executed in horizontal-grained rift cut white oak with an ebonized wire-brushed effect. Wall cabinets provide a surprising and unique focal point: patinated stainless steel fronts, whose golden undertones echo the blackened brushed gold decorative hardware.
Mirrors line the short wall to reflect light in the corner and create the illusion of doubling the space. The dramatic theme is carried through with Black Absolute countertops and a textured black limestone backsplash. But the exclamation point in the room is the white marble table surface, reminiscent of crisp white linens that characterize the finest dining establishments.
So, when you’re bemoaning your small kitchen, we hope we’ve served up some inspiration and proof that good things can, indeed, come in small packages.
This post was written by senior designer, Paulette Gambacorta. Paulette has been designing kitchens with Bilotta for over 25 years. In a recent review of a project she completed her client said: "[Paulette] has many years of experience and her knowledge, taste, suggestions, and planning were outstanding. Her designs...were always on target and on time. Her attention to detail was impressive. Her flexibility and patience were outstanding. She was always available and treated us warmly and professionally. She never missed a step. We can unequivocally recommend her."
Categories: custom cabinetry | Small Kitchens