This Gorgeous Kitchen Looks Way Bigger Than Just 85 Square Feet

Updated 04/29/19
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Small Kitchen Tour
Monica Wang

When we first laid eyes on this kitchen, we were stunned. It's gorgeous, yes, but the homeowners told us it formerly only had enough room to fit a sink, mini fridge, and orange laminate countertops. And here's the real kicker: The only light came from a vintage light-up Schlitz beer sign. Naturally, we curious about the design process that managed to transform it into something usable, unique, and undeniably beautiful. 

Unsurprisingly, the inimitable design duo Jessica and Jonathan Taylor of Taylor + Taylor are the homeowners of this 85-square-foot kitchen. Another unsurprising twist? Even though they definitely know what they're doing when it comes to revamping lackluster spaces, it always helps to have a second opinion, so they enlisted L.A.-based designer, social media consultant, and art director Anne Sage to shed some of her expertise. 

Since the house was built in 1951 and hasn't ever been updated in its 70 years of existence, they knew it was going to need some work, which would definitely be worth it. "As first-time home buyers in L.A., our ideal was to find a home that was a duplex or had a guest unit that we could rent to friends and thereby make more affordable," the Taylors explain to us. 

If you're wondering how in the world to design a kitchen for small spaces while still making a style statement, read through their expert advice below and get a glimpse inside their small but gorgeous kitchen. 

Embrace Small Appliances

Kitchen Makeover
Monica Wang

If you're working with a small space in the kitchen, then factoring in scale and proportion for every design decision will make all the difference. This includes appliances, the Taylors advise. "We found European makers to have the best options, and fortunately Build.com makes a wide selection of European appliance brands available here in the U.S.," they tell us. So the key is to look out for narrow, compact pieces to not only be able to fit everything you need but also to keep things from looking cramped.

 

Also, if you plan on making it a multipurpose space with in-unit washing and drying machines, opt for something like this LG all-in-one unit so you can have a single appliance and free up for more storage space. Think beauty meets utility. 

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Make the Shopping Easy On Yourself

Kitchen Tour
Monica Wang

To keep the shopping step in the design process as smooth and simple as possible, opt for larger retailers that have a ton of options and brands. For example, the Taylors found Build.com to be an exhaustive one-stop resource for fixtures and fittings. This also allows you to keep things consistent without being too one-dimensional. We're really digging all the matte white fixtures lately, which the Taylors chose because they feel fresh and unexpected yet still contribute to the aesthetic narrative of the space.

 

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Take Advantage of Every Design Opportunity

Kitchen Tour
Monica Wang

When starting the project, the Taylors recommend consulting a designer, saving inspirational images with elements you'd like to emulate, and then choose the standout features that will anchor the space. For example, the jumping-off point for this entire kitchen was an image from Sage.

From there, the Taylors tell us that they "plotted out a floor that would be the art of the space—playing with lines, curves, and neutral tones." In this space, the geometric, warm-hued floor tiles from Fireclay Tile, light wood surfaces, and elegant concrete statement wall clearly inform the entire room but don't interfere with the utilitarian needs. 

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Never Underestimate Good Lighting

Kitchen Makeover Tips
Monica Wang

Last but not least, never underestimate the power of good lighting to open up a smaller room and give it the illusion of being more spacious. Like we mentioned earlier, the only light came from a vintage light-up Schlitz beer sign that was in the room, which meant it was incredibly dim. The Taylors decided it was worth renovating, especially because they wanted to be able to rent out the guest house, so they opened up the walls and expanded into the even tinier sliver of basement in order to transform the space into a well-lit, functional—albeit small—kitchen.

 

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Up the Luxe Factor Without Compromising Utility

Small Kitchen Design Tips
Monica Wang

Now that we've gotten through the more nitty-gritty design tips, let's talk about the fun yet challenging part: creating a style-savvy space when you don't actually have that much space to work with. As the Taylors remind us, "A tight floorplan doesn't mean you can't enjoy those special extras."

There are definitely ways to make it feel luxurious; the trick is just to focus on more subtle design details. For example, the mix of materials and textures in the concrete walls and tile floors make this space interesting, edgy, versatile, and chic, yet they don't take up any extra useable space.

The same is true for the white matte details and pops of metallic accents. All of these details reflect the couple's style, which they tell us "veers toward the union of worn and modern elements." If you want to achieve a similar effect, embrace earthy but modern pieces that blend primitive antiques, distressed plasters, abstract wall art, and plenty of natural woods. 

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