Photos by Spacecrafting
There are lots of opinions on the best kitchen layout, but most would agree that it’s pretty helpful if the refrigerator is actually in the kitchen. That was the pinch point for Lisa Schwartz, a graphic designer who loved her sweet south Minneapolis downsizer but didn’t love the location of the fridge in the back hallway, a dogleg from the kitchen. “It felt like a college apartment situation and a bummer multiple times a day,” she says.
Schwartz wanted to fix that, increase the storage, and incorporate a more personal, contemporary aesthetic into the space. She brought in designer Heather Peterson of Heather Peterson Design to figure out how to turn up the happy factor of the space without making it feel out of step with the rest of the house.
Peterson explored adding on or taking down a wall to increase the size of the kitchen, but Schwartz ultimately decided to stay within the existing footprint to save money, and because she realized she didn’t need bigger—she needed better. The key was putting function first. Peterson explains, “The whole space was a little jerry-rigged. We got creative with lots of small changes that made a huge impact.” A few of those tweaks included pushing the windows up and over to make room above the stove for additional upper cabinets and an exhaust fan, plus removing the casing and increasing the size of the doorway between the kitchen and back hallway to create better visual flow.
Retaining a few elements of the original kitchen—maple floors, window trim, and a pretty section of farmhouse cabinetry provides continuity with the rest of the house and allowed Peterson to incorporate some contemporary elements—white cabinets, extra thick countertops, floating shelves, and two walls of cheery green botanical tiles by Grow House Grow. “We thought a lot about heritage with this space and tried to honor it in different ways,” says Peterson, citing the new cabinets that echo the design of the original, display shelves stained to match the salvaged cabinet counter, and handcrafted pendant light and cement tiles.
The refrigerator problem was solved by making space within a new bank of cabinets opposite the sink—creating a near-perfect work triangle. The move also meant they could hook the fridge up to a water line to make ice cubes—a convenience Schwartz had been missing.
Freed from its obligation to house the refrigerator, the rear hallway now provides useful space with crisp white pantry shelves and a storage cabinet to house towels and supplies for the backyard hot tub. Schwartz describes her feelings about the remodeled space as “big love,” adding, “I’m so glad I stayed with the original size and think it feels more special because it’s a little nook of a space.”