after 4 days of intense unpacking…. kitchen details

This is not how I generally work. I’ve never met this client and didn’t see pictures of her previous home. She moving from the west coast but got called away on a job leaving me to unpack on my own, and 1 week until she came to town (which was really 4 1/2 days, I have other clients you know). The goal was to unpack as much as possible to see what additional storage she may need.

I unpacked the kitchen first as kitchen stuff takes us so much room when packed and I needed the space. She mentioned (the day after I did it) that she and her mother would do it once she got here but the thing is, nothing makes you feel more at home in a new space than when you can use your own dishes and make a meal right away. She can always tweak things like if I happen to put the dishes she used the most on the upper shelf.

I doubt she’ll keep it but I LOVE the rug in here. It fits perfectly, is super comfy underfoot, and is really beautiful.

inside my kitchen, continued

boxes over fridge
lower left cabinet
my kit


lower right cabinet, under sink
The boxes over the fridge hold a ton; starting from the back left: archive paperwork; misc household things not bing used in this apt (couple of lamp shades, large hooks, felt snowflakes); paint kit; household utilities: vacuum bags, light bulbs, extension cords, etc.

The lower left cabinet is mostly my kit, tools, and cat stuff. Under the sink is my miele vacuum, my shredder, and an old dish rack now holding cleaning supplies. Go here for more details.
While I have room under my desk for the shredder, I simply don’t want to look at it everyday. It’s a shredder with basket so I took off the top and placed it in the basket. I put paper in the basket and when it gets full (about every 2 months or so) I pull it out and shred everything all at once. Since I don’t have a ton to shred it’s a perfect solution.

inside my kitchen cabinets

DSC03752my small kitchen


upper right cabinet, above sink
upper left cabinet
cabinet above stove


storage in broiler


I like my small kitchen, especially since I switched the cabinet doors, because of the wide cabinets, and large ss sink. The cabinet above the stove holds candles and misc decorative pieces not being used at the moment. The broiler holds my 2 pots, 1 pan, griddle and strainer (yup that’s all I have).
The upper left cabinet is my pantry and coffee/tea area. The upper right cabinet is for serving pieces. I know I have a lot of glasses, but I love and use them all. The glass bowls on the lower shelf is actually a set of 9 nesting bowls, but many are currently in the fridge holding fruit, eggs, nuts, etc.
Go here for more details. The lower cabinets and boxes above the fridge will be in the next post…

living / dining room: before + after

You’ve seen other areas of this apartment, now for the main living/dining space.
We did a major edit and mapped out new homes for everything, but just as important, we made a few decorative changes. The major thing was reorienting the rug. You can see in the 3rd pic the rug came out from behind the sofa as it ran lengthwise from the TV. The lounge chair near the windows wasn’t even on the rug; an unconscious message of how the wife hates it. Now the rug runs lengthwise in front of the TV and the husband is happy to finally feel like he’s part of the living area :O)
We also:
– switched out the small metal lamps with large green ones
– installed a sconce over lounge chair
– the only purchase: baskets under coffee table for magazines, books, etc
– moved around art and hung art
– re-styled entire room

kitchen cabinets: before + after

The way I plan a space and figure out how and where to put things, is based around the simple concept that you shouldn’t have to
reach too much to get the things you use most often. So drawers for lower kitchen cabinets are a no-brainer. The double ones used above come in different widths and depths to accommodate most sized cabinets (measure before ordering, and measure from the hinge(s) as they take away from the cabinet opening width).

In the pantry, the open shelves on the left are shallow but the open shelves on the right are quite deep. The white mesh drawers keep things from getting lost in the back.

Ignore the light and cord in the last two pics. It’s temporarily there since the overhead light went out.

awkward kitchen cabinets: before + after


These pics are from the same kitchen as in the previous post. This is a lower corner cabinet that’s wide and deep with a narrow door. I was hoping to install a blind corner system but the door opening was too narrow. So we again, went the quick, easy, and inexpensive way by using an Elfa drawer unit. This unit fits in there perfectly, without an inch to spare. I literally had to assemble the unit IN the cabinet (thank goodness I’m pretty tiny and can actually fit in there!)
It’s a wide 4-runner frame with a top (sold separately), and a 1-runner drawer resting on top to make the most use of the space. The tall skinny elfa drawer in front holds smaller cutting boards, the take-out menu binder, etc, keeping them in reach. This also means when you want to get to the back drawers (which isn’t too often), you only have to take this one piece out instead of everything individually.

awkward kitchen cabinets: before + after

I understand why this client was an inch away from completely ripping out her kitchen and starting from scratch. This upper cabinet is ridiculous. With a proper cabinet to the left and right, this one is tucked in the corner with a tall skinny door. Why the contractor didn’t either put in a standard corner cabinet (angled out), or a corner door with a center hinge I don’t know. This is not a cheap kitchen (like mine!), it’s a beautiful kitchen in a stunning apartment. Anyway…

The quick, easy, and inexpensive solution is translucent bins that makes getting things in and out easier as well as making sure nothing gets lost in the back. Spices were organized how the client cooks with them, the most often used items in the front. The bins don’t look very large but they do hold a lot and I didn’t want something that would be too heavy for her to get in and out everyday.

chinese cabinet to liquor cabinet: before + after

When I saw this cabinet, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. At the head of the dining table, I knew it would be great as a serving station or bar. Since these clients also have two dressers in the area, we put the serving pieces in the drawers and designated this cabinet as the bar (the husband is a professor and gets a lot of nice bottles of wine and alcohol as gifts).

We cleared everything out, edited and sorted what was left, and redistributed to other areas of the apartment. A stemware rack makes the most use of the top shelf. The middle shelf in the after pic was actually a cover to the bottom ‘pit’. This is supposed to be for hidden or long term storage below. I thought it would be better used as a floating shelf below the drawers. My installer used small metal braces to connect the shelf to the cabinet since it’s about 2″ short of sitting in the existing sides which you can see in the first pic; there’s a small green box sitting on the left side brace under the drawers.
The bottom ‘pit’ holds excess wine bottles and alcohol. Middle shelf is for wine and has placers to keep the bottles from moving. The client is very happy not only with how it looks but how we organized it by reusing so many of her beautiful little dishes and bowls that she thought she had too many of without any real use for.

my apartment progress… kitchen

Considering the size of the apt (approx 325sqft) I just wanted the walls and kitchen white so they faded into the background. I immediately repainted all the walls, doors and trim Benjamin Moore Super White; flat for walls, semi-gloss for doors and trim. The cabinet doors were more involved to switch out so it took me a while to get to it. I gave the original doors to my landlord so he can reuse them in the apt upstairs. He didn’t mind that I switched them out considering all the other improvements I’ve made. 

The doors were $2 and $3 each (but now for some reason are 2x the price!), and the hinges were $5/door which brought the cost up to a little over $100. The cabinets aren’t from Ikea and the hinges didn’t line up so my installer had to drill them in. Not easy and as you can see, they’re not perfect, but the original ones weren’t either. And I don’t care, I think this looks so much brighter and cleaner.
The stripes over the stove are the same fabric I used in the bathroom. The lion you may remember from my first and last apt, a souvenir from my sister’s trip to Africa. The white boxes over the fridge store lightbulbs, vacuum bags and other household things, my paint kit, and archived items like ski pants, papers, etc. The black kettle and butcher block live on the stove; the butcher block gives me much needed surface area and I only use 1-2 cooktops at once so I don’t miss the other two, I did the same thing in my last apt. I use the little black kettle (a castoff from a client) to make my coffee every morning and I like the way it looks so it stays out.