“I have a small kitchen remodel to do, but nothing can be done with it,” is heard too often – especially in New York City where galley kitchens are often the standard design layout. I use the term, ‘layout,’ loosely, as minimum thought has gone into maximizing the use of the space.
Galley kitchens are named for a ship’s parallel, usually narrow work areas, yet they are not necessarily featureless. Some have height or length to exploit to take full advantage of the function and form that can be attained by new kitchen cabinets.
Every family and cook has their own routine in the kitchen. We all get used to working in our space – not realizing that even minor changes might improve the food preparation experience and enliven the kitchen.
Understanding the cook’s work habits in the renovation of a small galley kitchen is essential as there is very little margin for error. Here are 12 practical and appealing ideas to aid your renovation.
1. Use Stove Smarts. If you rarely cook with more than two burners, placing the stove against the side wall (shown below) provides more work space on the remaining countertop area. A 24-in.-wide stove has the same number of burners – only with less space between them and on each side.In a small kitchen, a two-burner 12- or 24-in. cooktop can be set into a built-up, 3-in.-thick counter above the dishwasher.
2. Consider the Microwave. For tall clients, a microwave/convection oven placed on top of a short refrigerator will suffice. The bottom of the microwave is most convenient at the level of the person’s armpit; too high, and the chance of spilling the contents increases.
3. Increase Storage. For shorter people, 15-in.-deep wall cabinets increase storage, and the cabinets still don’t feel uncomfortably close to your client’s face.
4. Invest in Smaller Appliances. Space-saving dishwashers 18 inches wide or a single dish drawer will allow for larger base cabinets. Refrigerators that are narrower and shallower are also taller and offer more aisle space and room for storage.
5. Hang up the Hood. If your clients don’t fry on the stove, they probably don’t need a hood. The bottom of the cabinet over the stove can now be level with the adjacent cabinets, providing additional storage and offering a more unified kitchen remodel. Sheet metal can be easily attached to the underside of the cabinet for protection.
6. Provide Cabinet Access. Horizontal kitchen cabinet doors that lift up or flip up (shown below), as well as sliding doors, elongate the space and provide access without doors swinging in one’s face.
7. Cabinet Drawers. Deep pot drawers in a galley kitchen may be a better choice than cabinets with rollout shelves behind doors. Removing the pot at the front of the drawer may only require opening it 12 inches, whereas rollouts need wider doors fully opened to access the shelves.
8. Organize the Look. When the amount of appliances equals the cabinetry or when the row of base cabinets is a different color than the appliances, place a matching cabinet panel on the dishwasher or match the cabinet doors to the appliances. This will eliminate what I call ‘the missing tooth look.’
9. Unify the Look. Having the kitchen sink and the countertop the same color achieves a more unified look (shown below). Materials that blend with a sink include stainless steel, slate and Corian. A black quartz sink can also successfully blend into a dark countertop.
10. Create Height & Contrast. Achieve height by coordinating the cabinet above the refrigerator with the refrigerator color to add a strong vertical, cohesive form. Having the refrigerator cabinet touch the ceiling with all others a little lower creates a contrast.
11. Use Horizontal Cabinets. The perception of a longer kitchen space can be achieved with an arrangement of horizontal cabinets (shown below). Horizontal doors create linear movement but act as a headband in reducing the perception of height when placed above regular swinging doors.
12. Add Detail. To relieve the monotony of all solid cabinets: a) insert a small open shelf, b) design an interesting cut-out in a flat-panel door, or c) insert clear or textured glass. Don’t overdo it, however, as an abundance of objects can be too visually busy in a limited space.
– By Mark Rosenhaus, Rosenhaus Design Group