November 21, 2023
When a long-time friend and her husband needed an overhaul of their small kitchen in their Washington, D.C., condo, designer Sheryl Steinberg came to the rescue. The empty-nester couple had just moved into the 1931 Art Deco-style building, and they had big ideas for the 130-square-foot space.
“The clients wanted high-end efficiency and modern functionality in a bright, happy space that would incorporate three rooms: the kitchen, laundry and eating areas,” said the designer, who is the owner of Sheryl Steinberg Interior Design in Bethesda, Md.
Small Kitchen Square Footage Constraints
As this kitchen is in a condo building, there was no borrowing space from next door, and knocking down a wall between the kitchen and living area was not an option since it would eliminate storage. Instead, Steinberg built the cabinets up to the ceiling, whereas the shorter units before offered nothing but unusable space above.
To create the three zones without looking choppy in minimal square footage, the designer kept them streamlined and delineated through tile placement, color, countertops and cabinetry. Upper and lower cabinets and countertops and a white subway tile backsplash define the kitchen, and the laundry space offers a washer/dryer combo that the clients had recently purchased. The eating area is distinguished by a colorful encaustic backsplash tile, open shelving to display treasures from the clients’ world travels and built-in cabinets with a one-foot-deep countertop to make room for a dining table.
Creating the Illusion of Space
Steinberg chose a bright, mostly white color palette to illuminate the kitchen, which has no direct natural light source. The cabinets feature a subtle gray wash for dimension, and the wavy-textured backsplash tile with a glossy finish reflects the under-cabinet lighting. Two LED pendants also brighten up the space.
The darker hardwood parquet flooring had to stay since the homeowners wanted to keep a continuous flow between the adjacent spaces with the same material, but it adds some contrast to the space. The floating walnut shelves provide a nice complement and additional storage.
Living Larger in a Small Kitchen
Steinberg took advantage of vertical space in this kitchen by taking the cabinets to the ceiling. She came up with creative and organized interior storage solutions, such as easily accessible corner cabinets that open wide on each side and glass-front upper cabinets to give the illusion of added space and brightness. The designer was even able to accommodate a pantry area in one of the cabinets, as well as storage for trash and recycling.
“I doubled the storage and usable space in this kitchen by utilizing existing vertical and wall-to wallspace – every inch was used,”said Steinberg.
In terms of appliances, the wife wanted a high-end Wolf range, which is vented via a KitchenAid microwave fan, as a larger hood would not have worked in the space. The refrigerator is a tad limited in height and width, but because it is not a built-in, it saves on space. The undermount stainless-steel sink features a pulldown faucet for the basin, which fits within a 24-inch cabinet.
Project Hurdles & Lessons Learned
As with most projects these days, this one came with a few supply disruptions and material delays. The original quartz they had chosen for the countertops was not going to be available for four months, so they came up with an alternate from Caesarstone that looks similar. The dishwasher was running late, but the builder installed a substitute until the new one arrived.
“Our proactive team communication and advanced planning and scheduling eliminated any project delays,” said Steinberg.
—By Chelsie Butler, KBB Executive Editor
Designer: Sheryl Steinberg, Sheryl Steinberg Interior Design
Photographer: Carlo Russo, HD Bros
Backsplash Tiles: Cement Tile Shop & The Tile Shop
Cabinetry: Elmwood Cabinets
Ceiling Lights: Rejuvenation
Hardware: Top Knobs
Microwave Hood: KitchenAid
Paint: Benjamin Moore
Refrigerator: Fisher & Paykel
Washer & Dryer: LG (existing)