June 28, 2019
Even a newer design would seem dysfunctional if there is not enough storage space. This is an issue designer Susan Klimala, the owner of The Kitchen Studio of Glen Ellyn in Illinois, faced in one client’s kitchen. Although the previous design had the right idea – white cabinets, bell-shaped pendants and some glass cabinet doors – the lack of flow and purposeful storage space left the kitchen feeling tired and outdated.
“Instead, we wanted to create a thoughtful, functional room that includes customized storage solutions,” said Klimala. “We also wanted to give them a beautiful, modern and family-friendly space for dining and entertaining.”
The existing layout included a peninsula and a wall between the kitchen and family room. According to the designer, her biggest challenge was the small size of the space and the large amount of storage that was needed.
“We solved this problem by taking the time to inventory the items the homeowner needed to store and finding a place for everything,” said Klimala. “Things like spices, appliances, books and pantry items needed to all have a home.”
Even after eliminating the wall between the kitchen and family room, the kitchen was still narrow and did not have a lot of wall space available for standard 24-in.-deep storage.
“We had to be creative with where and how items were stored,” said the designer, who used AutoCAD to draw the plans. “We also had to weigh functionality with the look of the space, so we were careful to keep the range wall airy by including a bit of open shelving that is beautiful but also functional.”
The design of the island was also challenging because of the narrow layout. Since there was already plenty of seating in the adjoining rooms, they decided to eliminate the idea of any island seating. Instead, the back of the island has shallow storage for small appliances and cookbooks. The other side houses the sink, a double trash pullout and a dishwasher; a tip-out tray was included here as well so sponges could be hidden away.
“The sink looks out over the breakfast room and backyard, so it is a very family-friendly layout and will be a nice little perch and buffet zone for entertaining,” said Klimala.
Budget was a concern for this project, so the design team was discerning about the materials they chose. Along with the gold light fixtures and the Wolf range, one of the biggest splurges was custom cabinetry. The perimeter cabinets were done in a simple white, but the base cabinets and the island were painted navy blue, which Klimala says is one of the things that makes the kitchen so special. She chose walnut open shelves to add warmth and a simple Shaker door for a modern, tailored look for all the cabinetry.
To offset the splurges, the team installed white quartz countertops for their clean look, ease of maintenance and affordable cost. A counter-depth fridge, stainless hood and budget-friendly hardware were also introduced, and the existing oak floors were patched and refinished. The vegan leather chairs in the breakfast room, which mirror the color of the walnut open shelves, were an inexpensive find as well. The result is a contemporary kitchen with storage and personality in all the right places.
“My absolute favorite part of this project was working with the homeowner, whose aesthetic sense is very similar to mine,” said Klimala. “We were on the same page for all the selections, and it was just a matter of working out all the details of storage and layout to make the project as functional as possible for the family.”
Designer: Susan Klimala, The Kitchen Studio of Glen Ellyn
Photography Credit: LOMA Studios
Cabinet Hardware: Atlas Homewares
Tile: Fine Line