Before and After: A Small, Dirty Kitchen Gets a Scandi Minimalist Glow Up Fit for a Family

published Jun 4, 2022
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Credit: Diana Lovett

Diana Lovett didn’t let a tiny kitchen stop her from seeing the potential of an 1890s home in Phoenicia, New York, located within walking distance from town. The galley layout made the room seem more like a hallway than a kitchen, and the finishes were in disrepair after years of use. “It was small and dirty and had a bad smell with sticky floors,” says Lovett. “It was also really dark, and there was only one small window.” 

The whole home had great bones though, and Lovett could envision the kitchen opening up to a dining area to become a laid-back gathering spot in the home. “The goal was to make the kitchen modern, usable, bright and open, and much more family-friendly,” says Lovett. “We really like eat-in spaces, as we have little kids, and someone is always popping up to get more milk or ketchup.”

Credit: Diana Lovett

As far as features go, plenty of storage, lots of airy Scandinavian-inspired finishes, big windows to let in natural light, and a freestanding island with tons of counter space topped Lovett’s wishlist. She also wanted her cabinetry to be accessible to her kids so they could easily grab their own snacks or help put things away one day. Her design vision was clear, but she had never taken on a full kitchen reno before. So once she decided on BOXI by Semihandmade cabinetry, she enlisted the help of their partner brand, Inspired Kitchen Design (IKD), for assistance with the layout. 

Demo, of course, was the first step in the redo, so Lovett brought in a contractor to open up the kitchen to the rest of the main floor. “We started by removing the wall that separated the kitchen from what is now the dining room,” she says. “That made the space one big room. Then we removed a tool shed that had been built onto the back of the house, and we added in three French doors.” In that spot, Lovett had actually wanted a full wall of glass that looked out onto the spacious yard, but the doors were the more cost-effective compromise.

Lovett ordered all new kitchen appliances then provided their measurements as well as the dimensions of the walls and footprint of the recently opened-up space to IKD. Using those specs, IKD designed an open, airy L-shaped layout with BOXI by Semihandmade Salt Shaker under cabinets wrapping around part of the perimeter of the room, stretching from the above-mentioned French doors along the sink wall to the refrigerator on the right hand wall of the space. “I have a hard time visualizing how something will feel with just a floor plan on a piece of paper,” says Lovett, who was impressed with the realistic spatial rendering she received of the kitchen prior to installation. “Being able to see it in 3D was super helpful.”

IKD’s kitchen plan made use of every square inch of space for stowing cookware, serving pieces, and even trash and recycling bins, which are located in the island out of view. The corner even has a special cabinet outfitted with a Lazy Susan and a spot to stow the coffee maker, which helps keep the counters clear of excess stuff.

When it came to those extra style touches, Lovett wanted to go the direction of minimalist meets Scandi but still have the kitchen feel homey. To that end, she chose light-reflecting white cabinetry, wall and floor paint, Poly & Bark stools, and even white Cafe appliances, including a white vent hood for the range. Brass hardware and a faucet, both from Wayfair, add a pop of shine and some warmth to the space. Crafted by the family’s contractor, butcher block countertops strike the perfect balance between practical and pretty, too. “We were not planning on butcher block counters, but they were available and within our budget, and now we love them,” Lovett says.

The honors for the standout design element of the space just might go to the round window on the sink wall, which was a “happy accident” in Lovett’s own words. “The original plan had two regular windows above the sink and two pendant lights over the island,” she says. “But during the construction process, we could not make everything line up.” So IKD pivoted and suggested this focal feature for a touch of extra personality and natural light. 

The kitchen was part of a whole house renovation that took just under a year. Some of the construction was affected by lumber shortages, but the Lovetts never lost faith that they’d have their dream family kitchen. “I love the whole thing!” says Lovett of the space. “We love, love, love the round window, we love having so much counter space, we love how it feels big and open — and how it’s so bright. We don’t turn on the lights until sunset!”