Cottage Talk: Kitchen Layout Plans

The last few weeks have been all about the bathroom, but this week I thought I would focus on the cottage kitchen remodel.  This is a half-remodel: Meaning I’m reusing cabinets, appliances and fixtures.  My hope is to live with this kitchen for 3-5 years and then upgrade to nicer quality cabinets and counters.  Since I have access to the best construction company in Philadelphia (Design Manifest, duh) I thought it would be fun to flex my creative muscles and show how I could rearrange what I’ve got to create the best possible kitchen on the teeniest possible budget.

So if you remember, the original kitchen had a wall that divided it from the living room / dining room.  The main work area with sink and range was on the right wall.  The left wall had one cabinet and some open space.  The frig was left to hang in the middle.



In the new plan, we have taken down most of the wall between the kitchen and living area.  (We just left enough room for those pesky ducts.)  We will move the range to the left wall.  Now I will have plenty of prep space around the range without crowding the sink.  We will relocate the refrigerator so that it tucks nicely into the corner.  A new IKEA island will fill the center of the kitchen and provide me with additional counter and prep space.




Right Wall BEFORE: The sink and range felt so crowded!  Note the numbered cabinets- we will be re-using them.

Right Wall AFTER: the sink and dishwasher remain, but the refrigerator moves the left side.  I’ll keep the wall cabinet over the dishwasher but ditch the one over the sink in favor of open shelves.  I also plan to store my microwave over my fridge.  In this small kitchen I thought it was the best place for it.




Left Wall BEFORE.  I always thought this was laid out so stupid with the fridge awkwardly in the middle of the room and the one corner empty.  I suppose a table could go here, but it just didn’t seem like a good use of space to me.



Left Wall AFTER: I’ll put the range to the right of the window and relocate cabinet 6 to under the window.  We are stealing cabinet 3 from the right wall and using it over here.  (YES, we will need to cut out the blind portion, but at least the door is the right size!)  Cabinet #1 will house all of my spices. 

I’m doing a hood over the range because I think a kitchen of any size should have a proper hood, plus a floating microwave hood would just look dumb here.



I will paint the cabinets blue and the counters will be white laminate. As I mentioned above, I don’t plan to have this kitchen too long and I refuse to spend more than a few hundred dollars  on the countertops in the meanwhile.  Clean and simple will do.   I like white because you can see any messes… and then clean them up.  I’m no clean freak, but I’m all for sanitary in the kitchen.

I admit to being greatly inspired by this kitchen designed by David Cafiero and featured in Lonny back in 2010.

I’m quite excited for my new island!  Luckily the Vardefrom Ikea fits perfectly and doesn’t break the bank.  I plan to spray the metal legs brass and switch out the hardware.  I think it will look totally chic when it’s made over.  I think this island will be used from both sides, so  I want 

backless stools so they can tuck away when not in use.  I hope to splurge on these sculptural stools from Arteriors.  I’d rather have them and some fabulous pendant lights than builder grade granite!



The last piece of the puzzle is the pendant lights and I have been searching high and low for just the perfect pair.  I’ll be sharing ideas later in the week for island lighting.


So what do you guys think?  Am I crazy for upgrading my kitchen and not including granite?  Also, No stainless for me either!  What kind of kitchen designer am I?  Wink Wink.


  1. This is going to be freaking faaaaaaantastic. Cannot wait.

  2. Ah. maz. ing!! I love it all and I love the idea of no granite. I’m working with someone on a kitchen that is about as small and awkward as yours. This gives me some great ideas and inspiration!

  3. Ashley

    I love seeing how your creative mind works. What color will the flooring be? You took the flooring down to the original wood, right? So exciting!

  4. @Ashley- yes the floor is the original subfloor of the house- yellow pine. I think I will leave it in its natural state instead of staining it a darker color. We will have to see how it looks after its been sanded.

  5. Leah

    I love that you are NOT doing granite or stainless, esp. if you are going to change things in the next 5 years! I remember seeing a New Orleans kitchen with white laminate years ago in Domino & thought it looked great. those stools are incredible!

  6. nelya

    The rug absolutely makes this! I love the bold cabinet color and the simple, clean, fresh look you are going for. Those stools are so fabulous and are on my wish list, as well. When we finished our basement bathroom, we used an Ikea kitchen sink/cabinet unit in there. It has worked wonderfully and has stood up to a lot of use. I wish I had thought to paint it and fancy up the feet!

    Can’t wait to see this all come together! Hurry!!!

  7. Genius all around- I’m so with you on spending on fabulous lighting and those amazing stools, rather than schmutzy granite. Loving the blue and the brass legs on the island…oh and the rug- gorgoeus!

  8. you are one smart cookie! your new kitchen re-arrange/layout is brilliant. If only my mind could work that way… :)
    thanks for sharing. your kitchen is gonna be amazing!! but i’m worried we’ll have to wait to see it forever, b/c some big fancy magazine is gonna want it for themselves!! ;)

  9. oh, and i can’t remember if you mentioned upgrading the ceiling in your previous kitchen posts? you’ve got a fabulous crew.

  10. Erin

    Well damn, now I want that kitchen!

    Thank gawd you’re not doing granite and stainless… I desperately want Ikea’s sexy white appliance line up.

  11. Unknown

    Love it! When/if you replace the appliances, are you going to go black? I like the look of stainless but it’s a pain to keep it looking good, esp. with two little ones.

    Wish I was in Philly so I could hire you (I used to be but am now in Cleveland). I’m in an old house that needs SO MUCH updating and work but I’m stuck in the classic fear to make any decisions!

  12. @Emily= yes the ceiling tiles came down. The bathroom is directly above here so we opened it up to do plumbing. I’ll have to share a ceiling shot. It’s interesting for those who are mechanically inclined.

  13. Victoria

    This is going to look amazing! I’m loving your creativity and Cottage Talk is one of my favorites on any blog!

  14. Between you and Lauren Liess this week I’m dying to tackle a kitchen makeover. Love seeing how your mind works on these technical projects. Kitchen design is a little beyond me at this point, but I’m taking notes (hopefully for my own future fixer-upper!).

  15. Wow… this new kitchen layout will be SO MUCH more suitable for a “workable” kitchen… I think you’ll be fine without granite or stainless steel appliances… as long as they work, right?! :) Can’t wait to see it all coming together… oh and btw that blue color is amazing & I’d definitely splurge on the stools! xo

  16. Anonymous

    Just curious wouldn’t the optimal position for the range be in the center island so that you’d have closer to the classic triangle positioning for the range, fridge and sink? In any case I do think the new layout makes more sense. And I’m so over granite myself. Why not use something else!

  17. Fascinated to see how the “after” cabinets will look. (I’m in the very late stages of painting a bunch of cabinets for re-use, and it is no picnic, but the transformation has to be seen to be believed. So, really looking forward to seeing yours, especially with that amazing color.)

    I HATE GRANITE! Actually, I think mostly I hate the outrageous obsession with granite. It’s not a traditional material, so it will never be up to scratch for me (at best a cheaper substitute for soapstone), but if traditional isn’t the touchstone for you, then I’d say granite is merely OK. It can take hot pots – good. Can’t take chopping on – bad. Doesn’t stain easily – good. Chips – bad. Color variety? Good. Subtlety and tastefulness? Not necessarily. Solid-surface and truly waterproof (I have damaged some formica in my day! I make such a mess when I wash dishes) – good. So heavy and so hard you could never fabricate, install, or even remove it yourself? Terrible. And price-point – pretty steep. So for me, it comes out on the side of “for most people, this would be a mediocre-to-poor decision.” And for the American buying public, it comes out as MUST HAVE. That means somebody’s brain is wired wrong, and I’m pretty sure this time it isn’t mine!

    Stainless: I have succumbed and I am ashamed. (And therefore inspired by your strong stand.) I made a valiant effort, though – dropped $500 and went with my DH to pick up a 300+ pound vintage double oven. Then threw away three months of ALL my free time trying to get it working. And failed. Now I have a black-and-stainless used one, and a great sadness in my heart for the white 1952 vintage double-oven range that I loved.

  18. So great that you’re doing this on such a tiny budget. Really inspiring me to think about my kitchen in new ways. Thanks, Naomi!

  19. I would think you were crazy if you were going with granite on a kitchen you plan to replace so soon! The lights and stools are both items you can keep when you re-transform, so it’s the way wiser choice.

    As a girl who has to live with rental-white laminate, I’m so jealous of the blue plans and can’t WAIT to see it happen!

  20. Hey anon I played around with several layouts but liked this one the best. The island is only 54″ so a 30″ range only leaves me with 12″ of prep space on either side. That was a joiner for me. I’d rather walk a few more steps and have more counter space.
    Oh plus an island wod require a new stove!

  21. Plans look smart and efficient. We did a similar mini-refresh when we first got our house, and when we finally were able to afford our proper full-on renovation, we saved our laminate (faux marble from IKEA) and reused it in our laundry room. So there’s hope that your mini-investment will end up going a long way! Best of luck! And, as always, thanks for letting us go along for the ride.

  22. Nancy

    Fantastic. I love to see these plans! Love the wall down and the island!
    xo Nancy
    Powellbrowerhome.com

  23. Anonymous

    I love it and I love the style you are going for.
    As a cook, I would consider the distance between the sink and the stove. I do boil water often and would find that stretch from one side of a kitchen, passing an island, to another a bit annoying.
    Love your blog!!

  24. Anonymous

    I love it and I love the style you are going for.
    As a cook, I would consider the distance between the sink and the stove. I do boil water often and would find that stretch from one side of a kitchen, passing an island, to another a bit annoying.
    Love your blog!!

  25. This is the first time I’ve read your blog but absolutely loving it. I think your kitchen rearrangement is going to work really well – looking forward to seeing some before and after shots so we can see how it will pan out! Looking forward to more posts! Michelle x

  26. Anonymous

    Personally I can’t stand granite. I have having what everyone else has, the granite is too busy looking for me, and frankly, I’m tired of seeing it every kitchen. I’m about to do a big kitchen redo and I can hardly wait not to do granite. Your kitchen is going to be fab!!

  27. I’m a kitchen & bath designer as well and also about to renovate my own bathroom, so it’s been great to follow along while you transform your cottage. I love that you are using laminate in the meantime and waiting to use stone for when you are ready to upgrade the cabinetry. Good luck on the renovation!

  28. Tara

    This is totally going to make your space more usable!! And I love the set up and that you’re still using a beautiful hood despite having a small kitchen! I’m jealous you’re getting to rearrange your kitchen now. I can’t WAIT to do ours!!

  29. We are slowly upgrading the appliances in our kitchen to stainless. Its affordable and we don’t plan to live in our house forever. I actually think I will have wood panels made to cover the dishwasher and maybe the fridge when we do get new cabinets in there. I like that look a lot. We def won’t be getting granite either! Not sure what yet but I’ve yet to find a granite I could live with anyways!

  30. Devaney

    First, love your blog, huge fan. I, like you, bought a small house and needed a new kitchen. I went with corian countertop over granite because I liked the look and depth of it and because my house isn’t worth much it seemed silly to have this little rowhouse with a fantastic kitchen with all these features when in reality I’ll never get that money back when I sell. So, long story short, I’m pro-laminate for you and I don’t think you have to do granite by any means. Laminate has come such a long way since it was first popular. Sorry for the long comment, looking forward to continuing to watch your house remodel!

  31. Greetings! I’m one your avid readers, I would like to say this is one of the best blogs on home interior design.

  32. Anonymous

    What a fantastic design. I’m looking forward to see the finished product.

    I never realized that the laminate of 20+ years ago is a far cry from the laminate available to us now. Nothing wrong with laminate. Hold your head proud. With so many different laminates available it can make for beauty countertops and doesn’t cost nearly as much as granite.

    Monique

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