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Small Changes Equal Big Improvements in a Kitchen Space

Moving doorways and annexing a few extra square feet allow for relocating appliances and adding a work island in an open kitchen

After: A Few More Feet

Photo by Ken Gutmaker

Eliminating a door swing can open the way to a much smarter kitchen. Witness Kelly McGinnis and Don Santel's Victorian-era home, in San Francisco, where the boxy cook space needed more function as well as guest-worthy style. Relocating the basement door elsewhere in the house, centering the foyer passageway, and grabbing about 2 feet from the dining room allowed architect Andre Rothblatt to create separate zones for cooking, cleaning up, and—Don's pet passion—fussing with the espresso machine.

Shown: In the upgraded and streamlined room, homeowner Don Santel pulls up to the extra-long, marble-topped breakfast bar.

Architect: Andre Rothblatt Architecture, San Francisco, CA

Interior designer: Amanda Marmer, San Francisco, CA; 415-309-8429

General contractor: V & Co. Fine Builders, San Francisco, CA

Stools: Design Within Reach

Before: Unstylish and Boxy

The fridge now tucks into the corner vacated by the basement door; the range claims a spot nearby; an elongated peninsula accommodates the sink and dishwasher; and a new microwave-equipped island boosts prep space. Designer Amanda Marmer's choice of light-reflecting finishes, quartersawn oak flooring, and a pro faucet gives the room, which also serves two young kids, a sophisticated flavor. "It's very much a working kitchen," says Don, "but it's also perfect for entertaining."

Shown: The old kitchen was cut up by one too many doorways.

A Place to Rest Goods

Photo by Ken Gutmaker

The addition of an island provides prep and landing space just steps from the fridge, range, and sink.

Refrigerator, range and range hood: Wolf

Dishwasher: Bosch

Faucets: Danze

Rug: Studio Home

Cozy Dining Spot

Photo by Ken Gutmaker

An informal eating area on the other side of the peninsula is out of the meal-prep fray but within reach of breakfast provisions.

Microwave: Sharp

Dedicated Coffee Station

Photo by Ken Gutmaker

The coffee bar features a commercial-style espresso maker with dedicated wiring. A bar sink to the right and an undercounter wine fridge to the left expand the area's usefulness.

Espresso machine: La Marzocco

Coffee grinders: Macap

Tile: Heath Ceramics

A Second Sink

Photo by Ken Gutmaker

The coffee-bar sink has a second faucet that dispenses filtered water.

Sink: Blanco

Filter faucet: Mountain Plumbing

Spices Tucked Away

Photo by Ken Gutmaker

A spice-cabinet pullout makes use of a sliver of space. The honed-marble counters were faced to make them look thicker.

Cabinets: Segale Brothers

Pullout: Hafele

Carrara-marble countertops: Andrea's Natural Marble and Stone

Matching Butcher Block

Photo by Ken Gutmaker

The island top is durable end-grain walnut butcher block and echoes new oak flooring stained to match.

Butcher-block top: John Boos

Floor Plan Before: Minimal Size and Function

Floor plan by Ian Worpole

The 210-square-foot space felt cramped and minimal—and couldn't fit the owners' fantasy coffee bar.

Pro tip: "If you have kids, locate the sink a safe distance from the range, and find a spot for a step stool so they can wash hands—and veggies—while you do the cooking." —Amanda Marmer, designer, San Francisco

Floor Plan After: Reworked and Personalized

Floor plan by Ian Worpole

The almost same-size kitchen gained more function after reworking the former fridge and range walls, lengthening the peninsula, and adding a prep island.

1. Extended the peninsula by 2 feet, making room for the sink and dishwasher. Moved the range to where the sink had stood.

2. Relocated the basement door and shifted the foyer opening, allowing the fridge to tuck into the range-wall cabinetry.

3. Added a prep island with a microwave and storage within easy reach of the fridge and range.

4. Annexed 2 feet from the dining room, rebuilding the shared wall as a plumbed coffee bar and eliminating the door swing.