Small, Dated Cabin Kitchen Receives Major Design Overhaul

Small, Dated Cabin Kitchen Receives Major Design Overhaul

By Barbara Capella Loehr

JEFFERSON, ME The owner of a cabin in this small town simply wanted to install a dishwasher in the kitchen.

That's when Donna Carrigan, CKD, CBD entered the picture. Carrigan is the owner of Dovetail Design in nearby Walpole, ME, and she knows that renovations, no matter how large or small, tend to snowball as more solutions are required for existing design dilemmas. This kitchen was no exception.

"When the owners, a husband and wife, found this beautiful, lakeshore retreat five years ago, it was little more than a rustic cabin what Mainers call a 'camp,'" notes Carrigan. "Realizing the location on the lake was a sound investment, they went ahead with the purchase, and began converting their camp into a cozy, year-round home."

That's why the addition of a dishwasher turned into a full-scale makeover, adds Carrigan. "The old galley kitchen was adequate for a weekend or vacation camp. But after years of living in it every day, the couple knew they wanted something better," she says.

Indeed, in addition to the lack of dishwasher and a range with one working burner, the original kitchen was saddled with home-made cabinets that didn't close, open undercounter shelves, a red linoleum floor, worn yellow laminate countertops, worn-out appliances and a lack of storage and good work space. The windows did not even take advantage of the fantastic view of the lake, comments Carrigan.


The designer started assessing by the owners' wants and needs for the new kitchen, such as expanding the existing footprint. It was there she ran into her first obstacle. Carrigan soon realized that despite the clients' desire for a larger kitchen, an expansion was out of the question.

"The combination living/dining room next to the kitchen could not afford to lose any space. The kitchen itself was already long enough, and pushing out a side wall would mean sacrificing a cherished deck, which sits right on the property line," she explains.

This deck had already needed to be cut back since it originally sat slightly over the property line and the neighbors would not sell the sliver of property it covered, she adds.

So, Carrigan was forced to work within the existing footprint. "The design was definitely a challenge," she notes. "With a room just over 7' wide and 19' long, it was quite a challenge to adhere to the NKBA's design guidelines. Within the space we had to keep two existing doorways one into the dining area on one long wall and one to the outside deck the opposite long wall."

The owners wanted to update the cabinetry, countertops and flooring, as well as the appliances. To that end, Carrigan gave them custom pine cabinetry from Adelphi Kitchens that features Legacy 1 inset doors, chrome cup pulls and a Pinebrook stain to match the existing pine paneling of the dining area. She also installed Maine Deer Isle Granite countertops by Morning Star Marble & Granite and a Solida cork floor with an Antiquity stain.

She used the existing Maytag refrigerator, but gave them a new Bosch dishwasher, Thermador range and GE microwave to enhance the room's function.

The owners also wanted room for two cooks, tons of storage space and plenty of natural light with a good view of the lake. In addition, Carrigan had to make room for the existing stacked washer/dryer, as no other room was large enough to accommodate it comfortably.


While squeezing all of these elements and requests was certainly a design dilemma, Carrigan was able to cleverly overcome it.

Because the existing door was placed directly opposite the opening to the dining room, it made sense for her to divide the long space into two function areas. "By placing the stacked washer/dryer in the far corner of the kitchen and building it in and providing wall cabinet storage above it, as one would do over a refrigerator, it was a logical progression to place the existing Maytag refrigerator beside it and build that in, as well," she says.

On the opposite wall, Carrigan installed two shallow pantries to accommodate bulk storage items. She balanced open shelves that provide cookbook storage between the pantries. Underneath the shelves, she placed a base cabinet for storage and a countertop that can be used as a landing space for refrigerator items and as a separate prep area when needed. It also comes in handy when doing laundry, says Carrigan.

"Designing the base cabinet with angled sides freed up a little more precious floor space, and also added visual interest to this tiny, yet efficient work area," she adds.

Turning her attention to the main portion of the kitchen, Carrigan began installing the other appliances. However, there was a problem.

"[The wife] wanted the dishwasher to the right of the Elkay undermount sink. But that turned out to be a design problem. With a room just 88" wide, having the dishwasher door down would immediately block traffic to most of the working area," she reports.

Carrigan's solution involved placing the dishwasher to the left of the sink. That way, "it could be open and still allow access to all other work spaces. And the owners agreed," she notes.

The next design dilemma Carrigan tackled was the owners' desire for a sitting area overlooking the lake. Her solution? "They were willing to sacrifice a little storage space in exchange for a 16"-deep, open countertop under the window at one end of the room. Underneath are open wine cabinets and room for a stool. By gently curving the granite countertop from 13" to 16" deep, there is room to sit and chop vegetables or just enjoy a cup of morning coffee while watching the sun reflecting on the lake," explains Carrigan.

The sink featuring a Rohl polished chrome faucet sits under another window that also captures the lake view. Progress recessed lights along with task undercabinet lighting enhance the natural light that window supplies.

All told, the kitchen was exactly what the owners wanted in terms of aesthetics and function. "I'm not usually a fan of galley kitchens in general, but this one came about by necessity, and it works perfectly. Their very compact kitchen turned into a highly efficient space with plenty of storage. It's beautiful. And it has a dishwasher," remarks Carrigan with a smile.

Project Highlights

  • After assessing the owners' needs and preferences, which included updating the cabinetry, countertops, flooring and appliances, Donna Carrigan, CKD, CBD, considered the owners' primary wish for the new kitchen: expanding the existing footprint.
  • However, Carrigan soon realized that an expansion was out of the question because the adjacent living/dining room could not afford to lose any space, and pushing out a side wall would have meant sacrificing a cherished deck.
  • The kitchen itself was already long enough, says Carrigan, who was able to fit all of the function the owners wanted into the space by creating one area for the existing washer/dryer and existing refrigerator, and installing a new dishwasher, range and microwave at the other end of the kitchen.
  • Carrigan also installed granite countertops, a cork floor and custom pine cabinetry with a stain to match the existing pine paneling of the dining area.
  • In exchange for a little storage space, Carrigan was able to install an open countertop under the window that captures the view of the lake at one end of the room.
  • Products include: Adelphi Kitchens custom pine cabinetry with Legacy 1 inset doors, Pinebrook stain and chrome cup pulls; Maine Deer Isle

Granite countertops by Morning Star Marble & Granite; Bosch dishwasher (#SHU9912); Thermador range (#RDDS30VR); GE microwave; existing Maytag refrigerator; existing stacked washer/dryer; Task undercabinet lighting; Progress recessed lights; Elkay undermount sink; Rohl polished chrome faucet, and Solida cork floor with Antiquity stain.