Thursday, April 4, 2013

Quirks and Whims: The Making of a Small Cottage Kitchen

Well, today is a very special day! Sue is here from Butterfly and Bungalow to share her kitchen renovation. I introduced you to her some time ago when I featured her here in this post that shows more of her lovely home.

It is gorgeous, fun, well-designed, and smart...

and one of the14 finalists in the 2013 First Project of the Year Party.

Enjoy people....enjoy!

I want to thank Donna for having me host her inspiring blog and allowing me to share my small kitchen from Butterfly and Bungalow.  I love Donna's small kitchen; there are so many unique ideas that come together so beautifully.  Donna loves small kitchens, and like Donna I love them too, because the details in a small kitchen are center stage it really encourages one to think and create differently.  Besides many of us have small kitchens and can't spend half of what the house is worth on a new one ;)

My daughter gave me some words from Merriam Webster to describe the process of planning and making our new kitchen.

Definition of WHIM

: a capricious or eccentric and often sudden idea or turn of the mind : fancy whim

Definition of QUIRK

a : an abrupt twist or curve
b : a peculiar trait : idiosyncrasy

Quirks in a Small, Old Kitchen and Making it Work
Our kitchen is small.  It is 91 inches on two sides but there are one to three inch bulges on the bottom of the concrete walls so it is really about 7.5 feet by 11 feet.  There are three walls, two of them concrete, but the 11 feet across wall has no room for cabinets, because there is a carport door. We opened the non weight bearing, dining-room plaster wall to connect the rooms and to accommodate a narrow, center island with 38 to 42 inches around.


Due to the sink wall bulge, the lower cabinets are attached to wood that was installed on the concrete wall. (No one verified the measurements after we placed our kitchen order; don't let them give you the excuse that it is small kitchen; you paid for it. Our compliant mistake.) But it turned out okay, and to our benefit; we have sink counters that are about 3 inches deeper which is a great idea in a small kitchen; the hutch stayed in its original spot.

 (The hutch extends out further than the other cabinets.)

Bead-board Plank Direction
We planked the bathroom and we learned to make the least amount of cuts down the vertical center of a plank because of seams, but since the kitchen is larger, we also wanted to avoid horizontal cuts on the ceiling.  The planks were 96 inches long so we went the shortest direction.

We installed the planks before any cabinets 
and it gave us a clean, custom, fitted look.

Secrets to a Spacious Small Kitchen
1.  A small kitchen looks spacious with
open shelves, doorless or glass cabinets, light monochromatic or neutral color scheme, crown molding and baseboard painted the same color as the walls with cabinets that touch the ceiling.

2.  Baskets and organizers are great for storage and organization.

But sometimes bigger is better for example, a small sink would of emphasized that the kitchen was small, instead it has balance.

I broke some small kitchen "DON't" rules.  I wanted the kitchen to appear as if it evolved to create a vintage vibe.
1.  All the counters have to be the same...
 I think I proved they don't have to be if one is monochromatic and the colors coordinate: unpolished marble, polished River White Granite, and
wood with a matching granite cutting board on it.  Most friends and neighbors who have seen the kitchen have not noticed, but when they do they are surprised that it took them so long.

2.  My metal finished don't match, they coordinate. I have a copper sink, bronze lighting, satin nickel hardware, and a stainless stove and hood.  My inspiration was the Zuni jewelry I see in the southwest; it is sterling silver with copper, turquoise, and other precious stones.

  Cabinet Advice
The least expensive cabinet line is not necessarily 
the least expensive for a small kitchen.  
Cabinet price is often based on a package
with a minimum amount cabinets; if you don’t have the minimum amount of cabinets
NO deal.

In my case the most expensive line was the
least expensive

We played with ideas on paper and on Ikea's software before we consulted a Home Depot tech.  Due to the sink window location and the space on the upper wall, we could not maximize storage with affordable choices 
like stock or IKEA cabinets.  
Our tech gave us a  plain boring plan, so I showed him what I wanted. Once the design and budget was clarified, the tech was challenged; the retired engineer arranged the pieces with the least amount of custom sizes to save money, but I did not sign off, because I didn't like the stove-refrigerator side.

In the meantime, I decided to order the stove, and when the 30 incher arrived I realized why I did not like the stove-refrigerator cabinets; the cabinets were too narrow and not worth justifiable spending 7000 dollars on that side. Also, the refrigerator from my previous home was too wide. 
I returned to IKEA on a whim and a quirk and because it is the least expensive place to begin.

Saving Money
I saved money by making the “cabinets”
and shelves for the stove refrigerator side.

Once my spouse saw that my idea was going to work, we went ahead and told the depot tech we only wanted cabinets on the sink side.  
Good thing we ordered the stove first.

I chose a blue Refrigerator!
Pale blue is open, and it recedes like water and sky.  If I want to add another color it looks complimentary, because in nature blue looks pretty with everything.  

It's a modern kitchen with a modern Italian refrigerator that looks vintage. The kitchen design suits the 1944 cottage's scale with charm and playfulness,

and little touches like glass knobs and cross handles give the cottage kitchen a nostalgic feel.
 If you want to read about the budget, my unintentional green, or the kitchen progression follow the links.  
Do you have ideas to share on your small kitchen?
Thank you for reading and letting me share.


  1. This is really beautiful captured kitchen designs.
    Thank you so much for sharing this.
    Modular Kitchen designs

  2. I love this kitchen more than many larger way more expensive designer kitchens. I think the fridge is FABulous and all the components work really well. Nice job.

  3. I love Sue's kitchen at Butterfly and Bungalow. I also just discovered your blog through her and love your kitchen too (I am a new follower.) We are halfway finished with our small kitchen renovation ourselves. (an 8 ft by 8 ft space.) It's an IKEA kitchen on a small budget.

    1. Hi there, cannot seem to get through to your email and you show up as a no-reply blogger. Thanks for dropping by and I went over to see your kitchen....fabulous!!

  4. Wow!! I love it! Who says that you need a large kitchen to look fabulous!!

  5. I love Sue's kitchen and I've followed every step she made to turn it into the beautiful room it is now. But it's always nice to see the pictures again for eye-candy!

  6. Thank you both for posting this little kitchen for us to enjoy. Some really clever storage ideas too!

  7. Hi, my name is Marina and I live in the south of Spain, I've run into your blog and I like it. A new follower.

    Hugs from Jerez


  8. That was really interesting Donna. I like the stove/fridge side of the kitchen and the way Sue went ahead with the IKEA cabinets and open shelving. It all looks beautiful!

  9. Gorgeous kitchen! I have a small and old kitchen, so I understand the quirks.


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