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A Kitchen With Lots More Function—and Charm

One less window, a wider passageway—and pro help—saved this sunny gathering spot from well-intentioned neglect

After: Blue and White Beauty

Photo by Joe Schmelzer

If you are a procrastinator, or maybe just married to one, this may sound familiar. Six years ago, when his wife-to-be, Katie, moved in, Craig Webster tore out the base cabinets and icky linoleum floor in the kitchen of his tiny bungalow, in San Pedro, California. He had every intention of finishing the job—someday—so after putting down a strip-oak floor, he threw together a "temporary" plywood counter atop 2×4s and promptly got busy with the rest of his life. Four years went by. "Fortunately," says Craig, "I do most of the cooking."

Shown: Katie and Craig Webster with baby Dylan. The wider opening to the dining room is finished with period-style brackets. The rooms are united by a striking blue and white palette.

Designer: Dana Jones, The Kitchen Consultant, Long Beach, CA;

General contractor: E-Dan Construction, Orange, CA; 714-636-1988

Stools: Pottery Barn

Pendant lights: (island) Rejuvenation; and (sink) Hudson Valley Lighting

Before: Kitchen on Hold

Time ran out when the couple realized they were about to add a third person to the party. In rushed kitchen designer Dana Jones, followed by general contractor Dan Wentz, to push the half-baked space to fully done—before baby Dylan arrived. Jones's genius plan: Close off a window overlooking the neighbor's drive, rearrange the perimeter to form an L for cooking and cleanup, add an island, and put in new windows that bring focus to the backyard. "In eight weeks," says a surprised-sounding Craig, "the job was done." Next work in progress? Dylan's room—which will be finished soon, Craig swears.

Shown: Torn-out base cabinets robbed the kitchen of needed storage.

Period Details Abound

Photo by Joe Schmelzer; (paint dabs) Brian Henn/Time Inc. Digital Studio

Period touches include beadboard panels and soapstone countertops.

Range: KitchenAid

Sink and faucet: Rohl

Tile: Sonoma Tilemakers

Paint: Wedding Bells (white) Valspar; Dusk (blue) Restoration Hardware

Dog Feeding Station

Photo by Joe Schmelzer

An alcove feeding station for yellow lab Maggie is lined with soapstone as a defense against spills. Like the countertops, it is maintained with occasional oiling.

Flooring: Lou's Floor Covering

Countertops and pet-station liner: Soapstone International

Dog bowls: Bauer Pottery

Seamless Fridge

Photo by Joe Schmelzer

The paneled, counter-depth fridge gets its seamless built-in look from a flush pantry pullout on one side and deep cabinets on top.

Fridge: KitchenAid

Fridge handles: Amerock

Cabinets with Crown Molding

Photo by Joe Schmelzer

Built-up crown molding wraps the upper cabinets. Both were painted to match the creamy-white trim in adjoining rooms.

Cabinets: Wright Cabinetry

Hidden Appliance Cubby

Photo by Joe Schmelzer

Small appliances, stored close at hand on the range wall, disappear behind the appliance cubby's folding doors.

Bin Updates

Photo by Joe Schmelzer

Sleek satin-nickel bin pulls, in sizes to fit different drawers, update the cabinets' traditional look.

Pulls: Restoration Hardware

Floor Plan Before: Short on Storage

Floor plan by Ian Worpole

The 197-square-foot space had a jury-rigged sink and not much storage.

Pro tip: "Give mid-priced cabinets a high-end look by enriching them with 4-inch crown molding." —Dana Jones, kitchen designer, Long Beach, Calif.

Floor Plan After: Larger-Feeling Footprint

Floor plan by Ian Worpole

Sealing up the side window opened up space for a smarter layout, and a wider opening to the dining room made the same footprint feel larger.

1. Moving the sink and getting rid of its old window allowed maximum storage and prep space to flank the relocated range.

2. A space-enhancing 5-foot opening replaced the swinging door.

3. The sink moved to the back wall, below three new windows that overlook the backyard.

4. The narrow island fits the room's proportions while providing prep, storage, and socializing space.

5. The fridge's tucked-away spot helps maintain a clean sight line between the dining room and the kitchen.