Small Bungalow Kitchen

New to the area and recently semi-retired, these Owners found a modest 1920’s Tudor that had just enough space, plenty of charm, and was in the right community to bring them closer to their children and new grandchildren. New paint, window treatments, and the right arrangement of their belongings were not enough though to conceal the fact that the kitchen was worn far beyond anything aesthetically that they could do to please themselves.

At first they tried new cabinet hardware, that wasn’t enough. Then a new wood top for the eat-at- island. It didn’t give them any more elbow or leg room while dining but it looked nicer that what was there. In vain, they tried to take out the soffit above the stove and refrigerator and re-install the cabinets, but that made them too high for their everyday things to be accessible. Exasperated, they ran out of ideas completely for how to accommodate their highly desired addition of a dishwasher and microwave and to make this kitchen work. They concluded that they needed professional help.


When we looked at the space and listened to what they had hoped to accomplish. Intuitively we could see there were good solutions. It would be challenging from a space plan to accommodate their appliance requirements, eat in the space desire, and accommodate 4 separate traffic patterns through the kitchen to other areas of the house. And, as if this were not enough, they wanted granite countertops and additional storage capacity while remaining in a budget not to exceed $35,000.00.

The first challenge was to agree to what aspects of the space they would be willing to compromise on. It was not going to be a gut remodel, nor did it need to be. The kitchen had excellent Oak hardwood floors in very good condition and if properly arranged, the floors would not require any repair or refinishing. The two windows in the space are the original double hung with their pullies and sash weights intact and they still operated easily. With a fresh coat of paint the trim, base, casings, window sashes, and door could be resuscitated too.


The basement below the kitchen space was unfinished making fishing in new electrical and any plumbing changes easy to make without opening large sections of the lath plaster walls. All of these considerations contributed incrementally to fairly large cost saving opportunities. There would however be a problem with the existing in swing hinged door leading to the back hallway, it did and would either block the eat at island or fridge in any of the plans.  As the door needed to stay in their mind for security and privacy reasons, we suggested modifying the existing door and converting it to a pocket door that would slide between the hallway and the kitchen wall next to the fridge. Content that these were reasonable accommodations we focused on how to create the most function and impact in the limited space.

We agreed that we really needed to direct our resources towards maximizing the storage in the space using every inch that we could and to do this, custom cabinetry was the route we needed to pursue. Standing proudly in the dining room two built-in china cabinets made with quarter sawn White Oak anchored the corners of the room. This was our queue to use the same species, cut, and finish for the new kitchen cabinetry. As most every inch of wall space was going to be covered with cabinets, we concentrated on making them the design focal point as well.

To accommodate the tight traffic pattern the right hand cabinet next to the stove was designed with a clipped corner. All of the wall cabinetry is to the ceiling for everyday and occasional storage needs and finished with crown mouldings. The eat at island has plenty of storage and an extended top was designed that allowed for more arm and leg room and the ability to push in the stools under the surface out of the way when they are not in use. Space on the end of the island holds cook books and a storage area for a pullout dog dish table. Although the island appears to be static it is actually on concealed castors, so if it needs to be moved to get larger pieces of furniture up the stairs from the kitchen to the second floor it can be.

Because lighting was not only functionally important in the kitchen but created a design enhancement, under cabinet lighting, wall sconces, and a new ceiling fixture were planned for. They also lend themselves better to preserving the spirit and intent of the home than recessed lighting does and were more economical to provide for and install.

A tile back splash would fill the areas between all of the wall and base cabinets making for a pleasing back drop that is easy to clean while maximizing the depth of the counter space by eliminating a stand on stone splash.

All of the kitchen’s electrical and plumbing had to be brought up to present day code too. When the final numbers were calculated, the project was over the budget by $5,000.00.

We suggested that as a cost savings measure to hold off on the granite counter tops and perhaps, just do the island in stone. That suggestion was not well received. The Owners insisted that if they were resourceful they could find a remnant slab that they would be satisfied with for half of the cost of the original allowance we provided for the stone, so we cut the allowance in half and wished them the best. To everyone’s surprise, they did find the right slab for them and persuaded our fabricator to take the piece that was cut out for the sink and fashion it into the top for the dog dish stand.

When it came time in the construction process to open the wall for the pocket door conversion we discovered that the wall was not actually a full 2×4 wall. Although the door jamb was a full width the studs were turned to the side on the hallway side to accommodate maximizing the width of the hall closet. This meant there was not enough room to create a pocket in the wall space for the pocket door idea without entailing significant disruption and expense to reconstruct the wall and closet to do so. Not having the door was not an option either. To solve this challenge, rather than having the door pocket into the wall space we extender the jamb on the refrigerator wall side and made a valance that conceals surface track hardware and allows for the door to slide past the hallway opening fully and conversely, when it is closed and locked to the hallway, it is fully open to the second floor stairway.

Project budget price range $35,000-$40,000.00