Charlotte, NC— When a kitchen cannot accommodate more than one person at a time or provide a comfortable space for eating or entertaining, it’s time for a redesign. Designer Robin Dreher of Optimal Designs, LLC, based here, was tapped for the job.
Although the clients’ wish list was full of the usual suspects – more storage, more space, more modern style – Dreher faced a number of obstacles in creating a design that would satisfy all of the homeowners’ desires.
“When I saw the space for the first time, I was just shocked at the inefficiency of the layout,” says the designer.
The existing space had a dead-end seating area that was uncomfortable, and there was little space for family and friends to commune and spend time together.
“The family consists of two busy parents and three kids with full schedules,” notes Dreher. “They needed something more comfortable, more spacious.”
Though the 240-sq.-ft. kitchen would remain in the existing footprint, the room’s new design would eliminate any formal or uncomfortable spaces, along with many of the walls that kept it closed-in and claustrophobia-inspiring.
Kitchen for One
The most obvious place to begin for Dreher was the inefficient layout, which made it difficult and uncomfortable for more than one person to be in the kitchen at a time.
“The homeowners were specifically interested in opening up the space so that, whether entertaining or just cooking dinner while the kids were doing their homework, the kitchen could act as a gathering spot,” she says. “The original space wasn’t comfortable for the cook or the diners, so that, too, had to be addressed.”
Another request the homeowners had was that Dreher design a room that would include a view to the backyard.
To begin, Dreher removed the wall between the kitchen and the family room/breakfast area.
“We pushed the cooking area toward the family room so we could make more room for pantry units and the 48" Sub-Zero and Miele oven and microwave,” Dreher adds.
By arranging the sink and appliances in a pattern that made more sense for workflow during cooking, the designer was able to increase the countertop space to the left and right of the sink.
Storage was priority one for the updated kitchen.
“There was no storage to speak of in the original kitchen,” stresses Dreher. “The original storage consisted of totally inadequate 12" cabinets that weren’t doing any favors for the large family.”
The lack of kitchen storage meant the clients turned to their adjacent laundry room for additional space. “They used it as a both a laundry room and makeshift pantry,” the designer explains.
Space from that room was also at a premium, as the refrigerator in the kitchen was sunk into the wall, with the cut-out jutting into the laundry room, further stealing space.
“We removed the step-in for the refrigerator to give that space back to the laundry area,” reports the designer. With the new storage areas being designed in the kitchen, the laundry room would no longer be needed for additional storage.
“We addressed the storage problems in the kitchen by incorporating many deep drawers for pots and pans, and a special area to store plastic containers,” Dreher comments.
She also added two vertical pull-out pantries that hold most of the nonperishable food storage as well as plates, glasses and other items.
“Both vertical pantries are pull-out/roll-out units, so you can get to them from both sides depending on which area you are cooking or standing in,” she explains.
Dreher also specified tray dividers for cookie sheets and cutting boards in other areas.
And, off to one side, a freestanding furniture-style unit provides additional storage. The unit, which stands on stainless steel legs, blends with the kitchen’s transitional style.
The center island provided other useful storage options. “We were able to design in storage around the entire base of the island,” the designer notes. The island, a stylish focal point and savvy combination prep/eating area, serves as the center of the space.