Creating the Small Kitchen of Your Dreams

Designing the small kitchen of your dreams







Do you live in an older home? If so, chances are the original kitchen was quite small. That creates some interesting challenges when the time comes for a kitchen renovation.

Back in the 1950s (and earlier), the perception of the kitchen was much different than today. This room was supposed to be just big enough for one person to prepare meals. It wasn’t seen as a place to hang out, do work and entertain.

Kitchens of that era usually had lots of windows to bring in the light. They had lots of
doorways, too, for easy access to the dining room, basement and front and back entry. A
separate storage pantry was typically built off the back or side. A chimney was often attached, too, because old stoves ran through them.

What does all this mean if you’re renovating your small kitchen? And how can an experienced design/build remodeler like Custom help you overcome the roadblocks that inevitably arise? Read on to find out.

Dealing with Limited Options
Having a large kitchen means lots of renovation options. When renovating a small kitchen,
the options are much more limited. You also have to be much more creative in finding solutions.

Custom Contracting kitchen designer Nikki DeFelice likes that.
“Small kitchens are my favorite projects because of the challenges,” she said. “You’re
up against so many things in terms of square footage, windows, door openings, chimney chases, etc. So you have to put a lot of thought into accommodating the homeowner’s wish
list. But we’ve been doing this for awhile, and we can always make it work.”

The big question with small kitchens is: How do you maximize the amount of usable space?
Sometimes this means making significant changes, like relocating window or door placements. Taking down walls to incorporate a pantry and perhaps a back hall is another
common part of our work.

Once the usable space is maxed out, how do you make the most of it? This is where things can get complicated. Our goal is to address as many of the homeowner’s needs as possible. However, we must weigh those needs against factors like cabinet space, countertop space
and width of corridors.

In the end, you may need to compromise on some things. That counter or walkway, for instance, may need to be a little narrower than is ideal. So it’s important to prioritize your wish list, with the understanding that some items toward the bottom may not make the cut.

Tricks of the Trade
Here’s the good news: Thanks to our 23 years of experience, Custom has developed plenty of tricks to use the limited space in your small kitchen wisely.

For instance …

  • Corner sinks: “These are probably my favorite space savers,” said Nikki. “The plumbing will determine whether it’s realistic. But if it is, my first instinct is usually to put in a corner sink.”
  • Cabinets: We offer a number of semi-custom cabinet lines, some of which let you build up to the ceiling to maximize storage space. Plus, you can pick from a variety of great accessories, such as dividers, rollouts and tilt-outs. (Check out for some ideas.)
  • Closets: “I love to fill in the gap between a refrigerator and a wall or cabinet with a six-inch closet. It’s the perfect place to store mops, brooms and cleaning supplies,” said Nikki.
  • Appliances: Nikki advises homeowners to choose the appliances early on, as they impact finalizing the cabinet floor plan. Our first preference is to use standard-sized appliances. In some cases, though, smaller refrigerators, stoves and dishwashers may make sense.

Of course, renovating a small kitchen is rarely easy. We’re constantly making judgment calls and adjustments while communicating with the homeowner throughout the project.

When it all comes together, however, the effort and expense are well worth it. Many of our customers are shocked at what a difference their renovation has made. With more usable space, better flow and an updated look, your remodeled small kitchen will be more enjoyable to use — and increase the value of your home.



Custom Contracting, Inc. 1267A Massachusetts Ave. Arlington, MA 02476 Phone: 781-648-2835 Fax: 781-648-0907 Email:

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