Reworking the Angels
Sometimes even a 282-square-foot kitchen can feel cramped. For Laurie MacNamara and Bill Hendrickson, who share a Craftsman-style home in Alexandria, VA, with their 16-year-old daughter, a “hook” formed by their kitchen’s peninsula left them trapped. “We could only use about two-thirds of the kitchen space,” Laurie recalls. “Especially with the corner sink in there—we were constantly running into each other.”
Scrapping the angled sink cabinet, pushing out the partition wall, and removing the J-shaped peninsula allowed Lindsay Boudreaux, principal designer at Shotgun Double Interior Design, to create a straight run of cabinets along the back wall. Building a 4-by-7-foot island with 4 feet of clearance from the fridge/range/sink wall provided a generous meal-prep surface and an open aisle to the side door and pantry wall.
The former kitchen’s large, deep pantry closet was difficult to organize, so Boudreaux reimagined that wall with a three-tiered pantry cabinet flanked by a coffee station on one side and a drop zone/storage bench on the other. The island holds pots-and-pans drawers on the range side, where cabinets now climb to the ceiling.
Forest-green walls, cherry cabinet doors, and stone countertops echo landscape views out the window wall in the eating area. “It’s a serene and natural, totally functional, and accessible space that gives us great joy,” Laurie says of the new kitchen. Adds Bill: “And it’s great not having to navigate an obstacle course when you realize you need a can of tomato paste!”
What they did
- Losing the J-shaped peninsula and angled sink and reworking the partition wall created a wide aisle for the island and direct access to the side door and pantry.
- Gutted the kitchen, rebuilding the partition wall 1 foot closer to the side door and 2 feet shorter; this allowed for a long, straight run of cabinets with the fridge and range in their same locations, and the sink relocated under the window, with the dishwasher to its right.
- Built a 4-by-7-foot island with storage for pots and small appliances, two display shelves, and seating outside the work zone.
- Put in a coffee bar and an under-counter microwave where the pantry closet had been; built a to-the-ceiling stack of pantry cabinets to its left and a storage bench beside the back door.
Send in the Crowds
For the Ramachandran family, four of whom love to cook, an angled kitchen island in their suburban Washington, D.C., homemade practicing their passion a pain. The cooktop hogged prep space, lower cabinets were impractical, and the angled island blocked access to the pantry, which felt miles from the burners.
Moving the cooktop off the island was key to improving flow in the 242-square-foot space. So Kate Adams, designer/architectural specialist at Case Architects & Remodelers, created a feature wall for a new rangetop, moving the fridge to the wall with the double ovens. She put in deep drawers below the range top for pots and pans, with racks to house the family’s extensive collection of cooking oils and spices on both sides.
A new rectangular island, its top nearly 10 square feet larger, offers more than 12 linear feet of slicing-and-dicing space on two sides. It was placed to create a path between it and the rangetop that’s a foot wider—key to avoiding traffic jams. “With a 4-foot-wide aisle, there’s now enough room for two people to work back-to-back,” says Adams.
Further fine-tuning included demolishing a desk in favor of a baking station/beverage bar and replacing a cavernous builder-grade pantry closet with custom cabinets calculated to fit specific items. Hints of gold, gray-veined quartz counters, and handmade zellige tile add unique character. “We now have a dream kitchen that meets all three requirements—form, flow, and function,” Jo Ramachandran says. “It’s also very pleasing to the eye.”
What they did
Ditching the angled island allowed for a larger rectangular one with a foot more clearance from the old fridge wall to ease circulation.
- Replaced an underused desk area with a wall of ceiling-high cabinets that includes tall pantry units with the fridge alongside, and a 4-foot-long baking station/beverage bar; double wall ovens shifted 63 inches to make room.
- Placed a rangetop and its vent hood in a feature wall of cabinets along the back of the U-shaped layout; sink and dishwasher locations stayed the same.
- Built a 4¾-by-7½-foot island with uninterrupted prep space.
Fresh Look and Function
A galley kitchen can work—they function fine in restaurants. But not in a house where it hinders access to the kitchen table and a busy back door opens into the cooking zone. “I felt trapped and alone when making dinner—two people in the galley just wasn’t an option,” says Sara Kodsi, who shares a 1950s Colonial Revival in Bethesda, MD, with her husband, Nadim, and their two children.
To open things up, Stephen Gordon, president of InSite Builders & Remodeling, relocated backyard access to the eating area, adding sliding French doors where a trio of windows had been. He got rid of the cabinet run that held the fridge along with the peninsula that hemmed in the galley, moving the powder room door to where the fridge had been. Then he widened the main area by taking 2 feet from the adjacent dining room. This transformed the 114-square-foot galley into 244 square feet of functional kitchen space.
Moving the range to the new wall and putting the fridge to the right of the sink created a comfortable work triangle. It also made space for a 24-square-foot island with storage on three sides and stool seating. A beverage bar and fridge went in where the back entry had been.
White cabinets, some with glass fronts; clear globe pendants; and a sputnik chandelier help lend “a light, fresh, calming feel” to the new kitchen, says Sara. “Now everything is close together in a good way,” she says of the workstation situation. “Plus, the island is great for food prep and serving without
being an obstacle to the table, so this has truly become our gathering space.”
What they did
Removing a peninsula and widening the room by 2 feet turned a galley into an open kitchen with a center island.
- Closed up the back entry, demoed the peninsula and the fridge wall’s cabinets, put the powder-room door where the fridge was, and built a drinks bar in the old entry spot.
- Bumped into the dining room by 2 feet, centering a range on the new wall and placing the fridge near the sink.
- Added an island about 3¼ feet wide and 7½ feet long with seats for three; moved backyard access near the table, which is now fully part of the kitchen.