Smart Alterations

Clever design -- not square footage -- expands this small kitchen


Photographed by Gridley and Graves

Photo by: Krause, Johansen

Krause, Johansen

By: Point Click Home Dot Com
Related To:

Written by Jeannie Matteuci
Photographed by Gridley and Graves

When George Marrone purchased his three-story, contemporary-style home in the Philadelpia suburb of Aston, Pennysylvania, he knew he needed to make some changes to the existing 120-square-foot kitchen. "The room just didn't fit my style," recalls the 34-year-old hospital supervisor, who shares his home with partner Michael Nocera. "It had lots of flat surfaces, but very little work space, no island and no seating area." he says. "The room also had a large pantry that took up an entire wall." Hoping to create a more practical layout that was conducive to cooking and entertaining guests, George set out with a detailed plan to upgrade the room.

Doing most of the work himself, George gutted the entire space. He replaced the builders-grade cabinets with semicustom maple units in a natural finish, a move that totally transformed the look of the kitchen. "I installed a thin strip of crown molding on top, subtle enough to add interest to the surface yet maintain a contemporary feel," he says. For additional prep space and open storage, George added a free-standing island that is perfectly sized for the small room. He also removed the pantry and replaced it with a breakfast area that seats two.

To create surface interest, he used a mixture of materials. Black granite tile was chosen for the floor to provide contrast to the blond cabinets. Hardware used on the cabinets mimics the finish and shape of the handles on the stainless steel dishwasher and wall oven. George opted for a brushed stainless alloy mosaic tile for the backsplash providing a nice visual break between the black granite counters and wood cabinets. "I wanted to avoid bringing colors into the room," he says, "so I made up for the lack of color by using lots of texture."

Wanting a seamless look, George chose a cooktop and wall oven instead of a bulky range, and installed the refrigerator to be flush with the cabinets. "It's such a small space, I decided to keep things simple," he says. Other final touches included natural bamboo blinds; a durable, sisal-like rug; and undercabinet lighting to brightens task areas. These accessories help pull the space together and create an "urban chic" feeling.

"My goal was to create a contemporary kitchen that would not only work for me but also be a warm and welcoming place for friends and family," says George.

Next Up

Waste Not, Want Not

Every bit of space is put to work in a creative redo of a classic kitchen.

8 Ways to Make a Small Kitchen Sizzle

Whether you have a galley in a high rise or a small space in the suburbs, these decorating ideas will help you end up with a delectable kitchen, cooked just the way you like it.

Kitchen Updates for the Budget Savvy

Learn how far you can stretch your budget with these DIY kitchen updates, all achievable for less than $250.

Basement Kitchen from DIY Network Blog Cabin 2009

A sleek understated design, state-of-the-art appliances and neutral cabinetry combine in this compact kitchen, brightened with colorful artwork and vintage-style posters.

Tips for Sprucing Up a Bathroom

Old bathrooms have charm. Though some sprucing might be necessary, conserving the gracious look intended when it was built might be the best way to go.

Tips on Basement Rec Room Makeovers

Hosts Amy Devers and Karl Champley offer tips on how you can easily turn an ordinary basement into a fun family hangout.

Behind Closet Doors: 4 Closet Makeovers

Check out these four organized closets by professional organizers and interior designers, and discover the best closet organizers and eco-friendly tips for your closet space.

Before and After: Sports Garage Makeover

See how a garage filled with bikes and clutter is transformed into a stylish and organized space.

Deck Makeover: Treetop Den

A rickety, unstable deck is transformed into a comfortable, safe spot to hang out.

America's Most Desperate Landscape 2009

Desperate no more: The winners of the DIY Network's 2009 national contest received a simply stunning makeover.


Get Social With Us

We love to DIY. You love to DIY. Let's get together.

Consult Our A-Z Guide

Everything You Need to Know

Browse a full list of topics found on the site, from accessories to mudrooms to wreaths.  

How-To Advice and Videos

Get video instructions about kitchens, bathrooms, remodeling, flooring, painting and more.

Watch DIY Downloads Now

Watch DIY Network LIVE

Don't miss your favorite shows in real time online.