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Small Kitchen Makeover: Design Phase

How does a designer take a bundle of hopes, wishes, obstacles and opportunities and turn it into a coherent plan that will accomplish both the desires of the client and the practical needs of the project?


For our small kitchen makeover winners, Arciform designer Chelly Wentworth developed her initial design proposal with 3 key goals in mind:

1. Open the kitchen up to the dining room to make the space feel larger.

2. Add storage wherever possible.

3. Integrate the clients’ preference for clean, modern lines with the vintage character of the home to create a timeless look.


To accomplish that goal, she began by creating a detailed plan of the existing kitchen (see above) to help visualize the challenges and options available in the space.

She also created a Pinterest board of style ideas to help illustrate and guide the design process.


(Carrara marble and white subway tile are combined with open shelving in this sample kitchen pinned by Chelly. The result is a crisp neutral palette that still has vintage character and adds storage space without the bulk and expense of upper cabinets.)

From here, Chelly created a set of elevations (drawings that illustrate the kitchen one wall at a time) of her proposed designs.

Here are a few of the design details Chelly incorporated into her initial design.


Illustration A. A mixed mosaic tile back splash in anthracite from Oregon Tile and Marble will cover the west wall, adding a subtle repeating pattern and cool grey tones to the kitchen.  An existing obsolete chimney will be removed from the NW corner, opening up wall space for open shelving to display and store needed kitchen items.

Here’s what the mixed mosaic tile will look like:

Backsplash tileTo coordinate with the backsplash, George Morlan is providing a charcoal grey undermount sink with a very cool faucet. Take a look:



Illustration B. The existing wall separating the dining room and kitchen will be removed, to be replaced with a peninsula that will house a dual fuel slide-in range with a clear glass range hood provided by Standard TV and Appliance. The peninsula will include a small overhang for a breakfast bar on the dining room side. A pendant light from Schoolhouse Electric will create a visual connection between the kitchen and dining spaces and millwork for the opening surrounding the peninsula will be matched to the existing molding and built-ins in the dining room to create a cohesive look.

Here’s the sample range and hood options:



Illustration C. The removal of the north wall will open up room for a shallow spice cabinet to the left of the basement stairs, adding needed storage while keeping the new open feel of the space. A set of Julia Child-inspired wall mounted pot racks will allow them to keep their pots and pans close to hand.

Here’s a sample pegboard pot rack that will inspire the finished pot wall:


Illustration D. The south wall will be the primary place to add new cabinets. Chelly proposes Shaker-style full overlay cabinet doors and drawer fronts from Versatile Wood Products to add vintage character while keeping the lines clean and simple.

Here’s an example (on the right) of what Shaker-style full overlay cabinets look like:


For Darrick and Monica, the butcher block counter shown above would be replaced with honed grey Carrara marble counters  that will be cut by Wall to Wall Stone Corp and installed by Classic Marmo.


In the pantry, an unusually narrow 33″ wide fridge has been found that will tuck into the small space and open freely.

BONUS! Darrick noticed that the back side of the pantry connects to an empty space below the stairs, allowing us to tuck the microwave into a built-in cavity that will add a lot of functionality without sacrificing any counter or shelf space.

So what do Darrick and Monica think of how the design is progressing so far?

Darrick writes,

“As far as the design so far- we were pretty much floored. You visualize some of the design concepts but seeing it in a 3-D rendering puts it in a completely different picture and makes it much more real.”

What changes are they considering to the initial design?

* changing the shelves colors to match the floors
* adding a wine fridge (because we oh so love wine)
* adding a trash compactor (to minimize on the mountain climbing for each trip to the trash can)
* taking out the door frame that leads into the fridge room (to make it much more open)

Darrick adds, “The experience so far has been great. It’s been a great learning experience as this is the first time we’ve gone through a remodel. We’re excited to keep forging forward and can’t wait for the great result.”

Check out the “before” pictures of our Small Kitchen project here.

Next week: Contract Revisions: The Devil in the Details

Follow the story with these additional Kitchen Makeover Posts:

Ready, Set, Launch!

Meet the Makeover Winners

Announcing the Winner

Makeover Contest Finalists

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Thanks again to our Small Kitchen Makeover Contest Partners:

Basic CMYK


CZ Becker logo

George Morlan logo


Schoolhouse Electric logo

Standard TV logo


Building a Nest

Jayson Fann's nests

I’ve known Anne and Richard for a long time. And Arciform’s been working on projects at my house for well over ten years, so I’m pretty comfortable stating that they, as a group, can do anything. Any crazy project I dream up, they can do it. Perhaps you’ve experienced this yourself?

Recently I read this article about human nests in the NYT, and it got me thinking. Personally, I don’t want one of these nests, because I’m more of a hedonist than a roughing-it kind of gal. If the nest had a good mattress and a reading light, maybe, but it’s doubtful. What would be really cool, though, is if one of my friends built a nest, and I could enjoy it and then go home. Kind of like how I feel about children.

But how much would a nest cost? Whom could I con into building a nest? Richard came to mind first, and I think I know why. For years I’ve spent July 4th with Anne and Richard. They have a big camping trip for the 4th, with fireworks and campfires and all that type of thing. I do not camp, of course, but I love to drive over from the local motel, freshly showered, with a coffee and some donuts, and check on the festivities.  Scoff at the campers, sip my coffee, watch the bonfire.

The bonfire. This is probably why I associate a nest with Richard. Every year he makes a HUGE funeral pyre / mountain of driftwood on the beach. He salts the interior of the pyre with fireworks; the goal being to light the bonfire and start the festivities with a bang.  But this is Oregon on July 4th. The driftwood is always soaking wet. How do you start a fire with wet wood? Well, Arciform guys can do anything. Richard pours a gasoline trail to the bonfire and throws a match.

Unsafe you say? Well, it’s just a fire and gasoline with a bunch of families sitting around. Nothing to worry about, right? The first year I participated, I was so scared I almost wet myself. The children were generally just excited at the prospect of fire, the dads thought a gasoline trail was a fantastic idea, and the moms? Well, after a few days camping with husbands and kids, without a shower, the moms are drunk. So they’re all calmly watching Richard pour the gasoline while I’m halfway up the trail to the car, 9-1 already dialed on the phone, with my thumb over the last 1, waiting to call the paramedics, fire department, whatever.

And of course, the gasoline lighting goes off without a hitch. No injuries – year after year. And then one year the wood is so drenched that even the gasoline isn’t doing the trick. Richard is laboring away, perhaps getting frustrated (hard to tell), when a ten year-old boy looks up at him and says, Too bad you don’t have a flame-thrower.

Richard looked down at the kid with a speculative look in his eye.  I do have a flame-thrower.


That’s Arciform – always prepared. Getting the job done. Here’s a pic of Anne and the pyre before the lighting ceremony. If Richard can make this every year just to burn it down, don’t you think he should make a nest? How about in your backyard? He can leave the flame-thrower behind.

About Nancy Ranchel

Nancy is an accountant who offsets the practicality of her day job with extravagant and outrageous remodeling projects, often involving massive amounts of scrap metal.  In her free time she can be found dreaming up new ways to turn her house into an art installation, digging through scrap heaps, and contemplating a world without plastic. Check out Nancy’s blog here:

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