This project for my client in Washington was tricky, but I’m always up for a challenge. Updating the kitchen with a fresh, clean look wasn’t the only priority for this remodel. Storage — and lots of it — was the client’s main concern. In fact, much of my work boiled down to balancing the amount of storage with overall functionality.

L-Shape Kitchen Island L-Shape Kitchen Island
The new kitchen majorly improves the layout, function and storage of this kitchen.

The Client’s Goals

As I mentioned, storage was the number one priority for the client. Standard wall cabinets, drawer bases, and pantry storage would all be high-demand items for this kitchen. In addition to the dishwasher and large refrigerator, she needed to fit in double ovens and a 36″ cooktop. We also had to leave space for open shelving to display cookbooks, place an island with barstool seating, and preserve enough room beyond the island for the kitchen table — all while maximizing the effectiveness of the traffic flow and work triangle. This certainly was not a weekend project!

The original kitchen had a large peninsula. And when I say large, I mean large. It jutted out of the left wall across 75% of the space. It also was home to the kitchen sink and the cooktop. From the pictures I saw, and the client’s comments, navigating the space was tough. Entering on one end required a long walk around the peninsula to reach the other side of the kitchen. I knew we needed to drastically rework this area in particular to improve the kitchen’s traffic flow.

Kitchen Island and Pantry CabinetsKitchen Island and Pantry Cabinets
The new island that remedied the awkward peninsula of the original kitchen.

The Revision Process

The client was very hands on with the design and very meticulous, asking loads of great questions and proposing tons of “what ifs.” Her input, in addition to her excitement for working with, really made her a great client to work with. All in all, we went through eight revisions of the kitchen design, which is about double the amount I typically do. But it was worth it in the end. We ended up finding the exact balance between flow, function, storage and aesthetic.

Dark Kitchen Island Close UpDark Kitchen Island Close Up
The kitchen island is packed with storage and is home to the cooktop.

The Cabinetry

With lightly stained woodwork throughout her home, we knew we needed to select a tone for the cabinetry that wouldn’t compete or clash. The client liked the simplicity of the Sgaker door style in the Painted Cream finish. We also brought in the darker, rich color of thedark wood stain cabinets on the island. The light paint and dark stain finish provided a unique contrast that brings interest and drama into the kitchen.

Black and White KitchenBlack and White Kitchen
The kitchen from the neighboring room.

The Design

The kitchen island, though, was a real puzzle. I knew the peninsula wasn’t working in the original kitchen, and an island would be the right way to go to better the traffic flow. Initially, we tried a square island, but it ended up feeling overwhelmingly large for the space. We settled on an L-shape instead for a variety of reasons. For one, it was non-intrusive yet still had space for the cooktop, and it created counter landing space across from the fridge and double ovens. The L-shape also provided room for barstool seating between the kitchen table and island.

Kitchen Sink and Washer AreaKitchen Sink and Washer Area
The new sink area sits adjacent to the cooktop.

We moved the sink and the dishwasher from the peninsula to the left wall, perpendicular to the cooktop. With the refrigerator along the neighboring back wall, where the double ovens were also located, we created a highly functional work triangle. On the back wall with the fridge and ovens, I used 12-inch and 24-inch pantries to create one large, built-in unit. I was a little worried about it looking too one-dimensional, so I added taller cabinets in the middle and brought this section forward by three inches to break the monotony. This gave the client all the storage she could ask for. I really like dramatic, striking designs, and the wall of pantries immediately became my favorite part of the kitchen.

Happy Customer

When all was said and done, my client loved her space. Even though there was a lot of back and forth and extra revisions, it was all worth it because the design came out great and the client was happy. Not only did the client have all the storage she was dreaming of, but we were also able to balance it with great functionality and traffic flow that was a night-and-day improvement over her original kitchen.

Built-In Pantry Cabinets with RefrigeratorBuilt-In Pantry Cabinets with Refrigerator
The varied height and depth adds interest to this wall of pantry cabinets.

Author: Karla Reck is a residential interior designer who is passionate about creating spaces that are indicative of her clients, not indicative of herself. Karla believes that no two people work or live in their space the same way. What may be ideal for one, may not work for another. She believes that the key to good kitchen design is to find the specific needs of each client and to create a space that works in accordance to their unique needs.

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