In the Kitchen with Blue

Let us continue the blue theme for a few posts. There is so much to say about one color, but this post is so much more.

A color that is all around us in the azure sky and the blue greens of the sea.

The deep sapphires, wild lapis lazuli, and the delicate hue of blue topaz. Himalayan Blue Poppies and the intricacy of forget me nots. Blue is everywhere.

So why not bring it inside. Remember the Blue Jay from the last post.

He was partially the inspiration for this blue and white 9 foot by 11 foot kitchen. His image and many more of his kind were taken from inside this kitchen through one of the many large light bearing windows. And this was no design accident.

Yes, you did read it correctly. This kitchen is minute, yet reads large. I will explain the tricks used to make it visually expanded.

A good design should consider many things. Of course, with a kitchen, how it functions is paramount. But other considerations are lighting, circulation, material choices, style, and budget among a host of others. But these also weigh heavily into how it will perform.

Even the aesthetics have a say in function. Color can change mood and texture can emit feeling.  But there is far too much to say on these subjects for one blog post. I will explore these in the future and explain in detail how they fit into design as important design tools.

So how do we go about making a little space larger? Let in the light, of course.

Old homes from the 1920’s did not have the bright indoor spaces we crave today, but that does not mean we can not create them.

The kitchen proper can be seen above, in addition to a small bistro style breakfast nook. You can see my Samoyed watching the birds. It was her pastime too. Too bad she could not use a camera, I would not have missed any birds. Only natural light is showing in the image.

The sink was moved to this location to maximize the natural light.

I did remove the apron below the window and tile beneath it for easy clean up. The counter is 30 inches deep for additional work space. A drop-down drawer is below the sink for sponges. The pass through is a functional addition, also it allows more light to enter the prep area. Small but useful tips.

The upper cabinets have glass on both sides to let borrowed light stream into the kitchen. This is a great tip.

But here is another trick. The counter has a curve detail which adds interest, but also serving space for the eating area. It balances out the 30 inch counter adjacent. No undermount cabinet lights here because of seating vantage point.

Note the table is glass, visually expanding the space as well.

Shiny hardware was used to bounce light . The gold toned accessories made the space sing. Even the blue and grey mottled tile has a slim banding of gold, as does the pendant light above the sink, and cabinet door hardware.

There are four can lights flush mounted in the ceiling. There is under cabinet lighting everywhere except the breakfast area for the reason explained. There is task lighting above the sink and ambient light at the French door. A small white with gold accent chandelier services the bistro table.

Artificial lighting is also very important in a kitchen, especially a white one from a maintenance perspective. Light a white kitchen if you want to keep it clean.

The breakfast area has two huge, fixed Pella windows for natural light. Another tip in this image is the navy counter edge. It is hard to see, but the design is very similar to the simple tile band. Three tones of grey paint where used.  That is also not very evident in the photos because lighting plays with the color.

The windows were painted the same light grey to expand this small space.

The new French door is placed where a small pantry was located. The relocation was to allow for the creation of the breakfast area and better circulation.

A ‘T’ zone circulation is created with access to the garden and to a new powder room to the left.

The garden can be seen through all the openings, but here is photographed from the entry landing. Again, deep blue is employed in the garden.

The iris bed has deep orange iris that are in bud in the front of this image. Deep purples are the closest to the blues. Allium and blue hydrangea show up in summer.

To keep continuity between spaces, tile was used in the powder room and entry.  Martha Stewart at Kmart comes in mighty handy sometimes with curtains that are used on the bath and kitchen.

Notice another design detail below. The square tile is used outdoors in the form of modular pavers. Note their color and that of the orange and navy oriental rug. No accident.  Orange and blue are a complementary match. Notice the depth of each color. That is important as well. The wood work is golden oak, but you can see that it is very orange.

The microwave was selected to work seamlessly with the cabinetry. The range has a flat ceramic top and is used for counter space when not actually being used. Keeping appliances flush gives the illusion of clean lines and more space.

Baking trays are stored next to the range for easy access. Now you can see how small this space is.

Another trick is hang your most used kitchenware like you see in some of the images.

These items are easily accessible when you are busy, plus it saves valuable cabinet space for less used items. It gives the walls some interest and the illusion of a working kitchen. Which mine is by the way. I love to cook.

See my post at Garden Walk Garden Talk. I have a delicious recipe for Chicken Cacciatore.

And photos of orange chickens. Again, no accident.

The refrigerator was another economical space saver. It is a side by side and only 30 inches. But the designer trick here is getting a built-in look for less. A false wall was constructed behind to slide the refrigerator back and bring the cabinets forward, creating a flush front look of a more expensive model unit. Even though six inches was lost, the flush look visually creates a larger feel to the space.

I have a cutting board cart that I use as a small center island. It can make its way to the dining room for cutting of meat table side.

Make items do double duty. But I use it more often in the kitchen as a convenient work surface. Just have enough circulation around it. Aways make sure all doors of appliances and cabinetry can open freely if you have a center island. You want it to be able to function well.

I put in real hardwood floors and have no problem with them in a kitchen. The rug keeps the cutting board from marring the wood and rolling around. Hardwood is durable if you avoid spills and have it properly sealed.

This image shows the transition zone from wood to tile. Always consider material changes too.

I am big on using every square inch, and when you have a tiny space to start, you must think in terms of conserving space and using it to its fullest. I have dry goods in the jars, and they actually add design interest. A little excessive here as many of them moved to the pantry after I figured out a good way to store and work. See below today.

Design tip. Put in as many drawers as your budget will allow. They are far more useful than deep cabinets. Another tip, keep them in a bank of drawers. It looks more aesthetically pleasing. This cove is the opposite in the powder room. The toilet is set back into the cove on the other side of the wall. Good space planning.

Besides the blue jay, this is the other inspiration of color. And below, more storage with a storage pantry built into the hall leading to the kitchen. Every inch counts.

Grey is very popular in design right now. But my advice to you is do not follow trends in kitchen design. They are quickly replaced and appear dated in no time.

Stay classic and your kitchen will appear fresh. This kitchen was built in 1999. It is the same color today. Outside of the accent banding, the kitchen is very classic in style, and color of whites and greys.

So you want to see what I started with?

And what I found?

Keep scrolling.

Yuck… and this was a kitchen of a caterer. Can you believe it?  Here we stripped all of the wall coverings, wallpaper, Z-Brick, and laminate glued to the walls, and removed the dropped ceiling. My husband the plumber stripped the paint off of the windows. See where the sink was?

The stove was right in front of the drafty back door, duh? That is the dry goods pantry. Not too handy hitting the door.

Above is the wall where the refrigerator is located today. You can see the extra height the space got by removing the drop ceiling.

This was the existing cabinets location and orientation too. Crazy. What were they thinking? The whole kitchen was this huge useless island.

The newly drywalled wall above right, is where the Z-Brick was removed. Disaster.

Oh, and this was the garden. I planted the Cherry Tree. Nothing at all was back here except the broken and heaved concrete pad. The rear neighbor’s garage is gone now. It blew down in a wind storm. Lucky me.

And of course we have more…

The images that follow give you and idea what an architect does when confronted with this mess. We gut and demo.

Blooming cherry which is gone and the little Alberta Spruce still in the garden today.

Here you can see where the old door was, and the small window is where the new door will go. The floor at left was a gorgeous Southern Yellow pine plank floor, but the people responsible for moving the sink to the middle of the room ruined it.

Architects also repair and expose original architectural details. In this case a rotted fascia and corner support, seen in the large detail below.

Above, the rear entry before with no detail.

The door is in and the brick work is ready to start. Notice that the brick will be toothed in. This is the proper way to do it. Also notice that the facia is restored and the detail is exposed. Dry Vit will complete the job at the windows. You will see the construction of the exterior later, as you will also see different garden designs. That is one advantage to my job, I can change at will.

Well, all ends well in that the home was very lucky to have caring and ‘constructionally’ competent individuals purchase it. It is still a work in progress but most of it is finished, except the front porch restoration.

There is so much to say on this project and I will explore the development of the garden in another post. Plus zero in on things you can do when designing your own home and garden.

Now time for a cup of coffee and a whiff of fresh cut garden flowers from 2001. I can still smell the roses.


11 thoughts on “In the Kitchen with Blue

  1. Donna I love your new kitchen but then I would as it is soooo similar to mine…………. it was so wierd when the first photo came on my screen, you are so right, I’ve never been one to follow trends I tend to know/feel what I like and learnt early that it is best to go with it, this is a great post thanks, I’m looking forward to the rest of the blue posts……… and all future posts, Frances,
    p.s. as a veggie I’ll skip the chicken on GWGT…………..

    • Well it is not so new any more, but I was trying to illustrate that with the trend in grey these last two years, it can be looked at how frequent that color and trend change. When I designed in 1999, that pickled pinky wood was a finish trend. The color for appliance color was bisque. The cabinet finish is so passe now and dates the kitchen to the time it was popular. I do stress painted white cabinets a lot, because of the expense of replacement for one, but wood tones change often too. Remember the time when bleached maple was in. Or dark cherry. Or oak for that matter. The only constant has been white.

  2. I love blue, too. Your kitchen is beautifully designed. And I echo your plug for drawers rather than cabinets in the kitchen – you can find everything in the deepest darkest corner with no effort!

    • Definitely a real convenience and space save, but much more costly than cabinets. When I do kitchens for clients, this is what I push most often. It takes a little encouragement to get them to use drawers after years of not having them.

  3. Your garden and renovated kitchen are lovely. In the last couple of years I have rediscovered blue. I very much like an antique, greyed-off turquoise and the warm blue tones that you have chosen for your kitchen.

  4. Somehow I missed this one, but you are in my reader now. Still have to add you to my sidebar blogroll tho.

    Our kitchen is melamine, and ‘oak’ to tie in with the oak veneer in the bedroom. And the walls have COLOUR, straw yellow, periwinkle blue, and a little of the terracotta from the livingroom. Our kitchen man squeaked what, MORE drawers?! Yes please. And the counter top and cupboard doors are the same – oak melamine, he didn’t like that either. But I do!

  5. How did I miss your other blog?! Oh well, I’m signed up now! 🙂

    I love these tips, particularly the 30 inch counters. Our kitchen is small and work space is limited. We also have a small rolling cart to use as a makeshift island, which has come in handy. Thank you for sharing. I will incorporate these tips into our kitchen makeover!

  6. My kitchen (make that the public space in my home) is made up of so many colors. Not quite what the classic you discussed. But we were told that color is the cheapest form of expression and since we were working on a (very, very) very tight budget, colorS it was. LOL! I wish I could show you the before and after pictures. 😀

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