Jennifer's Small Space Kitchen Renovation: The Big Reveal

Renovation Diary

Name: Jennifer Pade
Type of Project: Kitchen remodel
Location: West Village, New York, New York
Type of building: 300 square foot apartment in a co-op building

For those of you who have been following along with Jennifer's NYC kitchen remodel, and who saw the truly dire state of her original kitchen, this reveal will be especially satisfying. The work is done, the dust has cleared, and now it's time to take a look at the finished product.

Before: Jennifer's old kitchen. Not functional. Not pretty.
After: A huge improvement, no? You'd hardly believe it's the same space. Completely opening up the wall between the kitchen and living room makes the two spaces flow together, and the kitchen seems much larger. Double rows of cabinets take full advantage of the tall ceilings.

From Jennifer:

The kitchen is finally finished and I’m home! The last of the work was completed a few days after I moved back into my apartment. And although there are still construction materials everywhere, the kitchen itself is fantastic. It’s sleek, efficient, and much more beautiful than I imagined it would be. Once I’m settled in, I plan to put a small café table and chairs next to the window. There’s a lovely view (and lots of sunshine) from the window, and now that there’s no countertop in front it, I can enjoy it!

If I had to pick just one favorite thing, it would be the laminate wood floors. I’d initially planned on installing ash hardwood, but once I realized that for the same cost of putting hardwood just in the kitchen I could install laminate flooring in the kitchen, livingroom and bedroom, it just made sense to do laminate. And once I saw it installed, I fell in love with it. The weathered-wood look complements the minimalist elements in the rest of the room — and it’s just so pretty!

Before: The one window in the kitchen was blocked by cabinets, and a lack of storage meant things tended to pile up.
After: Jennifer's decision to get rid of the cabinets below the window means the whole space feels much bigger and brighter. (The old, ugly security gate is gone, too.) Cabinets to the left of and above the window still provide plenty of storage.

Two other things I love about the new kitchen were never planned for. The first was completely opening up the wall between the kitchen and living room. The original plans called for closing up the wall between the two rooms by 2’ to hide the interior cabinetry from the living room. But as soon as demolition began, I realized that the two rooms could just flow right into each other if the wall was left open.

Now when you look towards the kitchen from the living room, your eye goes up to the high ceilings and both rooms seem airier and more spacious. My mini version of a “great” room! The second thing was not installing lower cabinetry on the exterior wall (except for one small cabinet next to the bathroom.) There is less countertop space as a result, but it means that more than one person can be in the kitchen at a time and there’s even room for that small table and chairs next to the window. Breakfast nook!

Before: A tiny sink and overcrowded cabinets.
After: The refrigerator was moved to be next to the sink. And there's a dishwasher! The translucent glass sliding door between the kitchen and bathroom brings light into both rooms while still providing privacy for guests.
Another look at the dishwasher. This single-drawer dishwasher wouldn't work for a family, but it's perfect for a single person. And it barely makes a sound while it's running.
The single-drawer dishwasher is an absolute dream for a small apartment. It’s small enough to fit under the sink but has enough capacity to hold all the dishes from a dinner party (at least the kind of dinner party I can have in this tiny apartment!) And it’s so quiet, you can hardly tell it’s running. After a week of using it, I don’t know how I ever lived without a dishwasher!
Before: The open shelving in the old kitchen was a little overcrowded.
After: Lots more storage space means everything has more room to breathe. And everything can be tucked away in cabinets, keeping the small space feeling peaceful and uncluttered.

I adore the pale green, glass backsplash tile. The delicate color softens the minimalist white cabinetry and gray countertops and the shiny glass matches the glossy cabinet doors. And the under-cabinet lighting (with dimmers!) provides the room with a soft glow, making it look much more sophisticated than it ever did before. Dimmers really do make everything look better!

The sad old gas oven has been replaced with a GE speed oven that likely comes with artificial intelligence. Replacing the 4-burner range with the wall oven and two-burner cooktop saves space and gives me more countertop to work with.

Now that I’ve been through the process, I understand that I didn’t have a realistic idea of budget when I started. Because of that, I ended up making several unexpected changes mid-project (and I didn’t get everything on my wish-list). But having a contractor who could roll with the changes made it possible to keep moving forward, and I still ended up with a result that I’m thrilled with! It was totally worth it to get a beautiful and functional space that I hope to enjoy for many years.

There was just enough space under the wall oven for a 6"x 30" wide drawer from IKEA. It's perfect for storing things like baking pans and cutting boards.
Between the oven and dishwasher is a narrow 12" space that was supposed to be all drawers but because of a weird mixup at IKEA, it's become a swing-open cabinet with two drawers and a shelf. Some things just never get resolved, but I kind of like it now.
Since there was originally supposed to be cabinetry along this wall, the odd notch created by boxing in the heat riser and electrical panel would have been hidden. But since I decided against lower cabinetry on this wall, the contractor turned the notch space into a makeshift storage cabinet. It looks a little strange, but storage is everything in a small apartment, so I'm happy to have it!
Under-cabinet lights with dimmers bring a gorgeous glow to the kitchen in the evening. And behind the under-cabinet lights are plug molds, so I have a ton of electrical outlets that are nicely hidden from view.
The new kitchen in all its glorious newness.

Congratulations on your new kitchen, Jennifer! Readers, check out the full series to see the whole renovation process, step-by-step. And be sure to join us tomorrow for a full budget breakdown.

(Diary Text: Jennifer Pade, Images: Jennifer Pade and Pablo Enriquez)

(Image credits: Pablo Enriquez; number; Jennifer Pade)