Before and After: A Tiny Galley Kitchen Goes Big with a Game-Changing New Layout

published Aug 8, 2023
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Making major layout changes in a kitchen can be pricey, but it’s often worth it if it makes food prep and meal sharing just a little easier from day to day, especially for those living in their “forever homes.” (Why not make forever a little more functional, you know?!) 

In Cordelia and Kyle Hobbs’s kitchen, the layout was far from functional at first. Their house was built in 1977, and the kitchen was probably never renovated, as far as the couple could tell. It had only been updated with paint on the cabinets and newer hardware. “I honestly didn’t like anything about the kitchen,” Cordelia says. It was small, galley-style, with two “very tight walkways,” she recalls. 

Credit: Cordelia Hobbs
Credit: Cordelia Hobbs

That said, there was room on the left side of the partition for more seating and prep space if the couple could knock down the wall and create an L-shaped kitchen on the right-hand side. Cordelia and Kyle had a vision. “We needed the space and wanted a more modern feel for the home,” Cordelia says. At first, they contacted a few contractors and construction companies to get bids on the reno, but everything was too expensive. “My dad, Brock, has had a lot of experience with home projects so he decided to do the work himself, along with help from a friend, Robert,” Cordelia says. “My dad contacted an architectural engineer to make sure the walls we wanted to remove weren’t load-bearing.”

Cordelia came up with the design that placed the cabinets along two walls and a large island in the center of the room. She picked out new hardware for the cabinets, new appliances, and backsplash tile. She went with navy lower cabinets and an island from Mirlux, gray upper cabinetry, quartz countertops, 3×6 white ceramic subway tile, white paint for the walls (Behr’s Painter’s White) which also helps to make the room feel larger, and satin nickel hardware

Credit: Cordelia Hobbs
Credit: Cordelia Hobbs

In addition, Cordelia and Kyle had their popcorn ceilings scraped and smoothed by a pro to help ditch some of the 1970s vibes from before. “It actually came down easier than we thought it would [but it was] still a very messy process,” Cordelia says. 

As for the floors, they saved money by preserving the old flooring in the demo phase and then turning to a Facebook group when it was time to re-install the old planks after the new cabinets were in. “We were lucky to put a call-out on our neighborhood Facebook page, and someone responded saying they could help!” Cordelia explains. “The job was done a few days later.” The result? A modern kitchen that feels way less crowded.

Credit: Cordelia Hobbs
Credit: Cordelia Hobbs

All told, the reno cost about $35,000, so it wasn’t a cheap undertaking — but it has made a huge difference for the Hobbses in their day-to-day. “I love all the space it gave us in our kitchen,” Cordelia says. “It was very closed off before, and now we are able to see into our living space. It feels like one big room now. I like being able to cook a meal and watch my son play at the same time.” 

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