Galley kitchens are common in many older homes. Houses built before World War II often had very simple layouts with in-kitchen dining at the end of a long narrow room. The challenge for those of us living in such houses is that we now want to load up the limited space with modern amenities that weren’t part of the planning back in the day, such as dishwashers, pot fillers, second sinks and warming drawers.
You can begin the design of such a kitchen space by keeping the color scheme very light and neutral. This charming example has features and walls in soft whites and is anchored by a rich brown tile floor.
In order to avoid a clinical look, this kitchen has introduced warm tones like brass, gold and bronze instead of polished chrome. The sconce lighting with shades above the sinks add warmth. Notice that the oven range is black, and this deep tone is repeated in the chairs in the dining nook.
Decide on one extra amenity to be included in limited space. In this example, it is a prep sink. For you, it might be a tall pantry pullout or a single warming drawer. Make peace with the fact that you might not be able to reproduce a dream kitchen you’ve see on Pinterest.
One thing that I have learned and observed over years of working on a vast variety of projects is this: Sometimes the one thing you swore you had to include otherwise the entire project would be compromised turns out to be something that is little used. In my case, it was the four pullout baskets for vegetables. I use one of them for onions and another to hold canning jars! Lesson learned: I would prefer to have closed-drawer storage instead of those fashionable wicker baskets.
A careful analysis of the leanest design possible is the best way to approach a small kitchen. Be realistic about what is possible. Yes, you can include upper cabinets with glass fronts and lighting. However, whatever you put in those cupboards will be on display for all to see. You can have two sinks, but the under-counter storage will be cut down.
Never try to slip in an island if you are lacking adequate clearances. Kitchen designers consider 36 inches between surfaces to be the absolute least amount of clearance. Ideally, we prefer to see 42 inches between countertops. There is good reason for these recommended dimensions, and they shouldn’t be ignored. If you are arguing with your mate about what will or will not work, try to tape things out on the floor and get a feeling of how cramped the space could really feel if you were to violate this recommendation.
Another way to augment the function of a typical galley kitchen is to use a rolling work surface.
Many have a butcher block top. You could have one made to match your countertops. The key is having a place to stash it. Some older homes have back porches that people convert into laundry rooms.
With luck, you could design such a room to accept a tiny rolling cart. When microwaves were first introduced, most kitchens had no place to keep them. Therefore, the ubiquitous microwave cart came into use! Most people had one for years, until microwaves began to be built in. So, trends shift every generation. Keep your desires realistic to the available space. What you must give up in terms of appliances or frills might enable you to spend more on the quality of the finish materials.
Photo Credit: Kohler
Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego based interior designer and author of “Small Space Living.” Send questions and comments to her by email at email@example.com.
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