Maximizing kitchen space
Too often, kitchens and clutter go hand in hand. How to make the most of every nook and cranny.
September 21, 2004: 2:57 PM EDT
by Heather Smith MacIsaac, This Old House

NEW YORK (This Old House) - Just a few months ago, every inch in Margot and Chris Sieracki's kitchen in Edgecombe, Maine, was covered with appliances, spice jars, potholders, papers, and cookbooks.

"It was a nightmare," says Jean Sharratt, the space planner and interior designer who helped them remodel the space. Her design solutions more than doubled the kitchen's storage capacity and turned it into a cheerful, well-ordered oasis.

Here's how they did it.

A storage-packed island. A large central island is the workhorse of the Sierackis' 400-square-foot kitchen.

With all of the elements that Margot wanted it to house a cooktop with downdraft venting, a prep sink, a microwave, a breakfast bar, and lots of storage compartments it grew very big very fast. But Sharratt cleverly broke down the massive unit (9 feet long and just over 5 feet wide), into four smaller parts that help define the different areas of the kitchen.

On entering the house from the kitchen door, guests encounter a welcoming L-shaped breakfast bar 6 inches lower than the 36-inch height of the rest of the island.

The side facing the main sink, dedicated to food prep, is furnished with an additional sink, a pull-out towel rack, and wicker drawers for root vegetables.

A below-counter microwave and a gas cooktop anchor the side opposite the refrigerator. That side also contains a special spice drawer and a stainless steel trough for vinegars and cooking oils that was built into the countertop.

The final face of the island houses a deep divided drawer for pot storage.

Details that encourage tidiness. Elsewhere in the kitchen, to the right of the main sink, is a baking area. It is defined by a countertop that's dropped down to 30 inches an ideal level for rolling out dough.

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Below are spacious drawers for bowls and cookie sheets; the cabinet above holds dry goods as well as a row of small drawers for measuring cups, cookie cutters, and spices.

A built-in bench adjacent to the baking area invites Margot's young son to join in; its hinged top lifts open to reveal hidden storage.

Sharratt even drafted a structural post to storage duty by adding a twin and wrapping both with custom-made wrought-iron pot racks.

"Jean left no stone unturned," says Margot. "I finally have a place for everything."  Top of page

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