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Designing a narrow kitchen: Part 1

Our kitchen project at #Ridgefieldofdreams is nearly complete and as we count down the last few days of tile install I can't help but look back on the design process.

Now, let's just preface this by saying- we bought a home during the height of Covid in 2020. Being me, I knew the kitchen was "functional" and "sufficient" and all of those wonderfully utilitarian terms. But, if this was going to be my HOME, it needed some of our signature organic, modern, and natural elements to make it feel that way.

Step 1: Choose a functioning floor plan.

This is the space when we bought it. Previous owners had upgraded some appliances but painted the (likely) original cabinetry with a rustic, black rub and cream uppers. The refrigerator jutted out into the only walk way and you couldn't walk thru when the doors were open. There was also a split level bar behind the range and a very small eat-in that was right in front of the deck slider.

PROBLEM #1: There was also a long, narrow laundry room that backed to the far end of the kitchen and we knew 2 things. 1. Laundry this far from the bedrooms would never fly with our family of 4 clothes monsters. 2. The kitchen needed more space. SOLUTION #1: Take that laundry space, add it to the kitchen, and move the laundry upstairs to a very small, non-functioning bedroom. This was certainly not a "cheap" move, but it was vital to the layout of the main floor and my future laundry sanity.

PROBLEM #2: This kitchen is narrow. At the maximum width is 12'. For a floor plan that requires a major traffic pattern, that's not ideal. We played around with so many options here- a 24" wide island that had seating backing to the stair wall, a built in bench against that wall so chairs didn't need push-back space, and even removing the sliding door to have a better seating area in that space. But, ultimately- we went with this... SOLUTION #2: A large island that was wall-attached. It gave us more countertop space and the seating went on the 2 far ends so we could eat as a family without sitting in a straight line :)

PROBLEM #3: OH, remodels... There's always a surprise somewhere and unfortunately for this space, it came at the expense of an industrial refrigerator and freezer. We had spec'd a 64" wide appliance package with column refrigerator and freezer. BUT, as we demo'd we realized that the HVAC stack was much larger than anticipated. Ultimately stealing the extra space necessary for the large unit. But, not to be intimidated- we found SOLUTION #3: An integrated refrigerator/ freezer with zero radius hinges so it can sit flush with the cabinetry and not hinder the functionality.

And, that should do it right? WRONG. Now that the pivotal appliance has a home that works and our family has somewhere to eat (and still be able to walk thru), what about the pantry and the range? Enter PROBLEM #4: We knew we wanted a larger, Italian style gas range. But, we were also using semi custom cabinetry on the perimeter and the dimensions were only customizable every 3". In order to center the range between the 2 windows, that only left enough space for either a 30" (way too small) or 40" (odd, hard to find size) range. Aye, Aye, Aye. What to do here? 30" was absolutely out so I set to find the range that would work with the space. SOLUTION #4. Enter Hallman Ranges. I love this appliance so much. It's beautiful, cooks like a dream, and is at least HALF the cost of most Italian style ranges.

Get the look! Hallman 40" range in Matte Graphite with brass trim. Matching toe kick. and Chopping Block that covers the griddle when not in use.

Ok, now we're ready to roll right? Not so fast. PROBLEM #5: Pantry... oh where oh where to put the pantry. Now, we are based in Omaha, NE and It has been a key trend in the past 10 years to include a walk-in pantry in kitchen designs. We do them a lot- and for good reason. Family's need food storage! And somewhere they can hide messes when guests come over :). We wanted that too but after all of the reconfiguring with problems 1-4, there was just no more room for a walk in. But, then the brilliance really struck. SOLUTION #5: Does it really need to be separate to hold all of the things we need it to? And the answer is absolutely not. Instead, we built a full wall unit at the end of the kitchen that has 3 sets of retractable doors for small countertop appliances. All of the large, 36" wide drawers below and the full height shelving above are for pantry items.

Ok, NOW the most vital element of a kitchen- THE FLOOR PLAN- is complete and it's time to specify the pretty things.

Stylishly, Leah

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