Design for a Small Kitchen: Less Really is More
A recent visit to the Boston Poggenpohl studio on Newbury Street to renovate a compact 8’ x 8’ Back Bay apartment kitchen reminded me of the importance of carefully tailoring all elements in a small kitchen to fit together into a seamless whole. These European crafted cabinets have been manufactured for a century, but are always fresh and contemporary in feel.
J. Schwartz Design collaborated on this project with Rosemary Porto, senior designer at Poggenpohl, who is a master at the intricate art of packing maximum kitchen into minimum space.
- Appliances: One of Rosemary’s suggestions is to look at smaller, European-size appliances to make use of all important counter and storage space in the limited space available. Standard, large American refrigerators and stoves may overwhelm your small space and make it more difficult to work in the kitchen. Smaller, slimmer units, such as a 24” refrigerator, a 24” cooktop and an 18” dishwasher (still rich in features), free up much-needed space and, in turn, lend a lighter look.
- Cabinetry: Poggenpohl, and similar modular cabinet systems, fit perfectly with these smaller European appliances and also offer the clean, contemporary design that can pull a small kitchen together—creating both effortless function and an aesthetically pleasing design. Poggenpohl also offers the advantage of many thoughtfully crafted accessories that can increase storage space—corner cabinets with highly engineered access, pull-out pantries, drawer inserts and dividers to accommodate just about anything.
These modular systems also allow you to opt for paneled refrigerators and dishwashers in your cabinet material. This unifies the overall look of your small kitchen. Creative choice of materials—cabinet finishes, countertops, backsplash AND color palette—can makes the kitchen look cleaner, less cluttered and a bit larger. The upper and lower cabinets may or may not be in the same materials. The same kitchen layout and cabinet composition can be a “feast for the eyes” and take on several looks depending on many aesthetic configurations available to you and your architect/designer.
Here are a few other important design considerations for anyone looking to create maximum style and utility in their small kitchen:
- Cooktop and wall oven: A separate cooktop installed in your counter, paired with a wall oven below, can create a sleeker look, with continuous counter space, rather than a standard drop-in range.
- Hardware: In addition to careful choice of materials and colors in your cabinetry to achieve the cleaner, uncluttered look so important in a small kitchen, also consider opting for handle or knob-free design in your cabinets. Keeping them flush to the wall is another way to add to the sleek, minimalist overall look of your small kitchen. If you do opt for handles, make them streamlined to complement the lines of the space.
- Sink style and size: How do you prep, cook and clean? A sink should be a personal choice, carefully considered. Depth is important, but so are length and width. The size and position of the sink will impact not only counter space, but also the sink cabinet size and therefore the adjacent lower storage available. This is an often overlooked, but very important decision.
Construction project calendar: It is important to work with your architect and kitchen designer EARLY in the renovation process. Plan for lead times involved so that the appliances are chosen first; the cabinetry can be specified, ordered, manufactured and on-site before any demolition occurs.
The new Poggenpohl kitchen for our client is in the works and will offer not only a beautiful environment, but also one that is super functional—particularly when space is at a premium—with cutting edge details and amenities. Follow us Facebook and watch for photos of how we made this small urban kitchen live larger.