Juggling two young children and full-time jobs, Lyssa and Kurt Hoffmann of Des Moines had plenty of tasks to keep their schedules full. Their dark kitchen with limited prep and serving space had always been a problem area in their home, but a kitchen update kept getting pushed to the bottom of their to-do list. "Even though the old kitchen felt small and dark, I was a bit nervous to try anything more than painting the walls," Lyssa says. "I just didn't know where to start." But after a little persuasion from a friend, Lyssa decided to make the remodel a priority.
"The best part about the kitchen was its central location," Lyssa says. Though the kitchen had good bones with solid-oak cabinets and a workable layout, it lacked usable counter space, storage, and style.
Painting the dark oak cabinets a fresh white immediately brightened the room. A soothing shade of green on the walls added subtle color. Rearranging the existing cabinets and adding a few stock cabinet pieces created a custom look without the expense of replacing all the cabinets. Three upper cabinets on the breakfast room wall were moved to the floor, and joined by an additional cabinet, to make a stylish buffet.
Black engineered-granite countertops anchor the kitchen. "I love the dark countertops because they're so much easier to clean than my old laminate ones that would always stain," Lyssa says. Extending the countertop an extra 14 inches over the peninsula allowed room for casual seating and linked the snack area with the adjacent buffet. "The countertops really make the additional space feel like it was always there," she says. "It now feels like there are zones in the kitchen—one for cooking, one for casual dining, and one for cleaning and food prep."
Ditching the dated 2×2-inch ceramic tile backsplash and replacing it with a white ceramic basket-weave design added subtle pattern in the small space. "I was hesitant to go from one white tile backsplash to another, but I love how the pattern adds texture and interest," Lyssa says. The white backsplash tile complements the white painted cabinets, making the room feel brighter and taller.
Stainless-steel appliances replaced the dated and mismatched white and black units. The metal finish on the appliances coordinates with the brushed-nickel faucet and cabinet hardware. A new stainless-steel undermount sink makes cleanup a snap. "It's so much easier to sweep crumbs and water into the sink now that I don't have to worry about maneuvering around the protruding lip from the old top-mount sink," Lyssa says.
Replacing the old vent hood with an above-the-range microwave/vent unit frees valuable counter space. An inexpensive piece of stock cabinetry installed on its side above the microwave provides a place to conceal the vent pipe and electrical outlet.
Making the refrigerator wall more appealing required a little creativity using stock cabinets and shelves. A base cabinet topped with an upper cabinet makes a column of useful storage. One large shelf spanning the length of the niche creates a useful space for storing cookbooks and large servingware.
With four hectic schedules, the Hoffmanns managed to set aside two months to focus on updating their kitchen, creating usable counter space, smart storage, and refreshing style. "When I'm in the kitchen now, I feel so much more relaxed," Lyssa says. "The mix of colors and textures creates a peaceful room in the chaos of everyday life."