Transformation-Erica Kalkofen

If you work in the design industry, it’s hard not to be captivated by the transformation process – taking an ugly, dated or poorly functional space and making it look and work better for the client. While there’s plenty of hard work involved in taking a project from conception to completion, there’s something inspiring about reviewing where a space started – and how it turned out.

This month’s Transformations features a condo renovation where designer Erica Kalkofen, CEO, MBA, DC, ek•kitchens&design, Winter Park, CO, convinced her landlord to allow her to remodel the 450 square-foot-space – including the kitchen, bath and living area – into an efficient, peaceful place to call home.



The approximately 9’x7’ kitchen lacked efficiency as well as storage space and visual aesthetics. Kalkofen pushed herself to create a new environment that challenged preconceived thoughts about storage and design, one that would make her “feel like a million bucks when I leave my house. It’s a goal I have for all my clients,” she says.



With her landlord’s approval to spend approximately $25,000, Kalkofen set out to prove her design philosophy… that good design can happen on a budget. She began the kitchen transformation by removing the peninsula, which ultimately opened up the space and made it feel much larger. It also improved the balance between storage space and visual space to enhance the aesthetics.

Cabinetry, in a dark espresso color, features a door style that will stand the test of time. Above the refrigerator, open shelving – which helps control costs – utilizes baskets to corral bulky items. Laminate countertops, in a design that resembles stone, and vinyl flooring that looks like wood offer durability as well as affordability.

For the backsplash, Kalkofen laid 4”x8” ceramic tile – which is a carryover from the bathroom – horizontally above the range and sink. Its dark color contrasts with lighter-toned tile run vertically to create visual interest, also utilizing rhythm and pattern to make the space appear larger.

In the bathroom, Kalkofen repeated the vinyl flooring and ceramic tile, the latter of which she varied in color as well as size. To gain space in the vanity area, she included a faucet with a moveable spout which allowed her to fit a custom-sized piece of Corian which slips into the sink to extend her countertop space.

Overall, a soft color palette of espresso, plum, gray and brown promote a calm, relaxed environment, critical for the designer to prepare for the day.