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Claustrophobic Kitchen: Before

To create walls for additional cabinetry and a better appliance layout, Liz designed a cased opening to the adjacent breakfast area; opposite that, drawer-filled base cabinets salvaged from a stationery store went in, dressed up with a countertop made from a marble remnant. Rick, an experienced carpenter, built the island, topping it with pine stair treads. Wide-plank floors, painted in a sunny checker-board pattern, hide the old vinyl. As pros who've seen it all, the designers like that their kitchen is "just a little different," says Rick. "It's quirky without feeling too handmade."

Shown: Low ceilings and few windows made the space feel claustrophobic; sparse cabinetry offered minimal storage.
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