A Smart, Open-Concept, Multi-Use Kitchen With a Sleek, Contemporary Design

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We turned these clients’ dream into reality by transforming their narrow, cramped kitchen into a contemporary open-concept space. The original layout and design had several challenges which we overcame with some smart design features! Read on to get design inspiration, practical insights, and a behind-the-scenes look at how we transformed this space into the beautiful space it is today.

The Full Kitchen Reveal

Check out the full tour of this kitchen transformation below, or read on to learn more:

There were a few original features that made the kitchen feel narrow and cramped. First, the kitchen layout was U-shaped, with a counter that constricted movement through the space. There was also a little fireplace across from the kitchen area, which created an obstacle on that side of the space as well. And there was a bulkhead above the kitchen area, which lowered the ceiling and didn’t light the space well. Overall, the space felt very tight.

The client wanted to open the space up and have a far more useful kitchen with a better flow, and also create something that was far more attractive overall. This new design incorporates several features that help to achieve this!

First is the new kitchen island. Instead of the U-shaped counter, we designed this island which allows for a lot of useful work area, and for seating at one end.

Next to the island, we created this nice little nook area. It’s a perfect space for seating to enjoy the nice ravine views through the windows at the end of the kitchen.

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We drastically improved the lighting by removing the bulkhead and choosing the right fixtures.

And then there are some design details in this kitchen that really adds style and class. The colours on the cabinetry are great and tie in well with the overall look. The appliance colour these clients selected, black stainless steel, is a unique touch. And the fixtures they’ve selected, such as the brass-and-black faucet, really stand out. These details really help tie it all together and make this kitchen a beautiful space.

Design a Custom Island to Fit Your Space

A big part of improving the flow of this space was designing an island that had all the features the clients wanted while still fitting the narrow space. This meant we had to design a custom island—which turned out to be a major part of how we added style and function to this kitchen!

This is a great example of intelligent island design. Many people ask us to help design their kitchens, and they want to incorporate an island into their layout. And one thing to consider is, how does that island impact your space?

An island can be a great feature and a very useful part of your cabinetry and your layout, but sometimes it can also constrict the area and make it feel small. We wanted to avoid that in this renovation.

The Custom Island Layout

We had a relatively small kitchen area, so a long island made sense because it added a lot of room to work, to cook and to do food prep. But we also wanted to include seating. It would have constricted the space too much to have seating all the way along the island. Instead, we incorporated a widened area on one end to have some seating, and narrowed the island at the other end.

Don’t be afraid of doing a bit of a jog in your countertop! That can really create some great, useful space for seating. And the narrower space on the backside of the sink area provides for more room by the wall for their nook, which is also another seating area in this kitchen.

So consider the shape of your island and how that might impact the flow of the kitchen overall.

Custom Island Details

Once you have decided on your overall island design and layout, there are some details to consider that can really elevate it.

First, think about the colour of your island and how it will tie in with the balance of your cabinetry. In this renovation, we have a two-tone cabinet design. We used the primary cabinet colour on the island, and this grounds it nicely.

Consider also the storage within the island space. Here we included some nice large drawers, which are great for storage and for access across from the range. We also built the microwave into this island. It puts it a bit lower, but this makes it easy to access for everybody whether it’s adults or kids. It also gets it off the counter space to add more useful workspace there. If you do have a limited amount of available counter space in your kitchen, consider how you can maximize your island.

Countertop Clearance

There’s one more important thing to consider when designing your island, and that is the amount of clearance you have between your countertops. In this kitchen, we made sure there was a lot of room between the range side of the kitchen and the island. That space is key.

You should have a between 36 to 44 inches of clearance. If you go too wide, then you have an extra step to take when you pivot to reach your work surface on the island, which will feel frustrating. So consider that. But the worst thing to do is make it too tight. It feels constricted and makes it harder for people to flow through the kitchen. For example, if someone is accessing the fridge, you can’t get by while you’re using the sink. That creates a pinch point. Nobody likes that.

Overall, think how the design features of your island might it impact the overall look and feel within your space!

Choose a Lighting Layout to Brighten Your Kitchen

Lighting is a key component of your kitchen space, but it can get overlooked. So give some thought to a few different things.

You might wonder, ow much do you need? Where do you want it?

First, in a kitchen, you want that task lighting on the countertop areas. You also need some nice top lighting, which can bring lighting down a bit closer to the workspace while also becoming a nice design feature.

Other options to consider would be under-cabinet lighting lighting within any floating shelves you install, and puck lighting within cabinetry if you have glass fronts.

You have to think about the design, how it’s going to look, but also the function of how it’s going to light your space. If you have your pot lights installed in a location where they might cast a shadow onto the work area, consider that. This can get a bit technical, but your renovator should to be able to help you design and lay out your grid. Make sure they help you so that you have useful lighting to help light the space, as well as something that aesthetically is pleasing.

Let’s take a look at the lighting design in this kitchen renovation. First, there is a nice linear grid of pot lights (which are actually LED panel lights). The grid ties in the rest of the attached living space to the kitchen. But also it gives nice lighting from above, as they generally cast light over the kitchen area.

Then there are these pendant lights, which provide really great task lighting and ambiance to the space. And they’re also a really attractive fixture that ties in well with the hardware package on these cabinets.

When you look at the “before” pictures of this renovation, you can see that this kitchen used to have a large bulkhead with a strange configuration of pot lights within it. It didn’t provide great lighting to the area. We removed the bulkhead and added this nice, symmetrical grid of pot lights, with the pendant lights over the island. So now you have this great open concept, nice smart, linear lighting design, and really attractive fixtures in here to help round it all out.

An Option for a Minimalist Range Hood that Matches the Cabinetry

You might want a range hood that stands out—or you might prefer a range hood that blends in. These clients wanted one that blends in, and we had a great design solution to achieve that.

Here we have a very nice, elegant design where the range hood is built into the millwork. It showcases the beautiful colour of this cabinetry while serving its purpose of enclosing the range fan itself. So when you’re considering your kitchen design, this is a really smart way to reduce the look of your range hood. If you have a smaller space it’s a great way too to help make everything feel streamlined. 

Add Personal Touches: Floating Shelves

One way to add a personal touch to your kitchen is to showcase some of your items. This can be useful items that look great, like glassware, or simply some art that you enjoy. And one way to showcase these are floating shelves— these can really bring in both fashion and function into your kitchen.

First, floating shelves can be very practical. You can easily reach anything stored here.

Second, by incorporating some lighting into these shelves, you can provide some task lighting below on the counter top area, and also highlight what’s showcased on these shelves. So they are a great way to really give you some storage space, but without making the area feel a bit smaller.

These shelves keep a nice, airy feel, and their colour ties in with the design of the cabinetry. So they provide some storage and also a nice display with easy access.

The Final Details That Will Level Up Your Kitchen Renovation

Did you know a few cool upgrades you can add to really class up your kitchen?

Cabinet hardware is the first detail to consider. In this renovation, the handles are a nice decorative brass handle. This would be considered an upgrade, but it’s not going to break the bank. It might add a few hundred dollars to your overall project, but in the end, it really gives a nice elegant look. This colour that they chose also ties in well with the lighting they’ve selected, which also has a brass detail.

Another detail to consider is your tile. If you’re thinking about doing a subway tile, you can upgrade it a little bit without it becoming terribly expensive. You can go from a standard subway tile the kind of tile we used in this kitchen, with a nice beveled edge. It really adds some nice texture and some depth, and just gives it a bit of extra punch as far as the design impact is concerned.

Appliances are another thing to consider. In this kitchen, the clients opted for a nice black stainless steel finish. It’s a very elegant way to showcase the appliances in a subtle way. It’s not very common yet in the marketplace, so I think it’s a really smart choice design-wise. It works really well with this kitchen design. Your choices aren’t limited to white, black, or just classic stainless steel!

We also added a few touches to turn this kitchen island into a crown jewel. Aside from the beautiful undermounted sink, there is gorgeous faucet that really makes a statement. We see faucets that range from a couple hundred dollars up to $1,500 plus. You need to determine what your spend will be, but give some thought to the faucet because it can become really a nice showpiece. It’s a very practical piece but it can do double-duty as almost a work of art.

These final touches really can be that little extra bit that pushes your design to the next level. They don’t have to be an expensive upgrade, but they can make a big difference as far as making your kitchen stand out.

Want to know more about this kitchen project? You can see the project portfolio for this project here.

And if you’re looking for more tips like this that maybe you haven’t thought of yourself, talk to your contractor to see what they suggest! They might have great ideas to elevate your kitchen. Reach out to us here at Contact Renovations at (780)455-4446 or info@contactrenovations.ca for all your questions about your renovation project. 

Need a little professional advice as you plan your dream kitchen?

We have much more to share! Send us an email at info@contactrenovations.ca and we’d love to help you make your dream home a reality. 

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About Contact Renovations & Custom Homes

At Contact Renovations and Custom Homes, our client-first philosophy has made us a top Edmonton Design Build Contractor for over ten years. We pride ourselves on high quality renovations that speaks for itself. 

Click here to learn more about how we can help you bring your vision to life. 

We are thrilled to win a 2024 CHBA Edmonton Excellence in Housing award!