See how a small expansion helped transform this kitchen into an attractive and efficient space.
Hardworking Renovation-- Kitchen After Rennovation
After: A cooktop, which came with the house, shines in its new position in the corner of the kitchen. It's surrounded by a pistachio green tile backsplash with a special nook for housing an array of cooking oils.

Turning a cramped, inefficient kitchen into an appealing, functional space at the Pensacola, Florida, home of Tricia and Mike Mangrum and their three young boys. The 1950s bungalow provided limited space for expansion.Solution

  • New island: Enlarging the kitchen with a 5-foot expansion into the side yard allowed for a new island with a second prep sink. The island serves multiple purposes for this family. It also redirects traffic around the perimeter of the kitchen, allowing movement from cooktop to sink to refrigerator without interruption.
  • Rearranging appliances: The existing ones--reconfigured into the new design--were placed in more attractive and useful locations. A large cabinet unit functions as a pantry but is disguised to look like a hutch when closed. It houses small appliances, freeing up countertops, and its deep drawers keep food items handy.
  • Combining materials: The surfaces used in this kitchen include limestone tiles for the main countertops, a stained concrete top and beaded-board paneling on the island, pistachio green ceramic tiles in the backsplash, and ceramic tile flooring laid out to look like brick. These diverse materials add to the character and inviting feel of this small room.

Selecting Appliances

  • Smart shopping: These days, the sky's the limit in the appliance-buying arena, so it's important to be knowledgeable before you make such a large purchase. The options can be overwhelming. Prioritize your needs, and don't pay for bells and whistles that you'll rarely, if ever, use. Also, a product may look great from a style perspective without really serving your daily requirements. Ask lots of questions, review consumer magazines, and talk to your friends and family about what's worked for them. Be a savvy shopper--look for rebate offers and deals on floor models or discontinued styles that are still in stock.
  • Lifestyle: If you entertain frequently, you may want to invest in a second refrigerator or increase the number of cubic feet needed. If you often use large pots when cooking, then you'll want a dishwasher that accommodates oversize items. Some come with adjustable racks that allow for big pots and pans. If you like to bake, double wall-mounted ovens will give you more capacity.
  • Family size: This is especially important when choosing a refrigerator. In general, allow 8 to 10 cubic feet of refrigerator space for two people, and then add an extra cubic foot for each additional person. For freezer space, allow 2 cubic feet for the first two people and then 1 cubic foot for each additional person. For a larger family, a more substantial microwave is in order, but the size may be limited by your free counterspace. Trim kits are often available that allow unit installation on a wall, and some models are designed for cabinet installation.

Tips From a ProThe kitchen designer for this project, Cheryl Kees shares some advice.

  • Set a budget: When someone says to me, "I have this much money to improve my kitchen," then it's so much easier to make crucial choices because you know what you have to work with. I also can determine if it's an adequate amount given the project's parameters.
  • Set a timeline: In order to plan, you need to know how long and in what order a project will progress. Of course, there may be delays and supply issues, but at least you will have a general idea.
  • Keep an idea file: Tear out magazine pictures, photocopy books, or take pictures of friends' kitchens that you admire. A professional will be able to help you decide what is appealing about a particular look or feature as well as understand your desires better.
  • Make a list of needs: This will help determine where the money should be spent and will give the designer a focus. Even if it's just one element that you love and must have, then the kitchen can be built around that element. Lifestyle concerns are also paramount. Do you cook a lot or entertain in the kitchen? It's important to know how you live.
  • Keep an open mind: Be willing to look at the space differently and creatively. I encourage clients to express themselves uniquely in their kitchen--to color outside of the lines. But don't let a designer talk you into something just because it's interesting. You have to live there, not them.
  • Keep your sanity: If your kitchen is being gutted, arrange a temporary space for a microwave and/or refrigerator. When you can still have a cup of coffee at home, you'll feel less resentful about intrusion.