Small Kitchen, Big Potential

Retired couple transforms a compact kitchen

Story by Randi Jo Gause • Photography by Photo Arts by Janna

How do you transform a cramped condo kitchen with dated features into a stylish and functional kitchen for cooking and entertaining? That was the challenge for retired couple Jason and Miranda Adams* who purchased their condominium overlooking downtown Anchorage's Westchester Lagoon in 2010.

General contractor and interior designer
Grayling Construction
Countertops and backsplash
Blue Louise granite from Brazil, installed by Mountain Tops
Carbonized Bamboo by Crystal Cabinet Works
Cabinet Door Panels
Prairie grass by Lumicor
Hardwood flooring
Maple, refinished by Paul Berryhill, Wildwood Floors
Tile flooring
Porcelain, Statements Tile
Can lights from The Lighting Gallery by Brown's
Sub-zero refrigerator; Wolf range cooktop
Range hood

 "The interior, especially the kitchen and bathrooms, were outdated and not to our taste or lifestyle," describes Miranda. "The kitchen was enclosed with the exception of a pass-through, which made it feel cramped and dark."

Teaming up with interior designer Chanelle Banghart from Grayling Construction, the couple focused on designing a kitchen that reflected their personality and lifestyle. An open layout, increased storage and work spaces, updated appliances and fixtures – and "a modern, sleek, minimalist and uncluttered look" – were all priorities for this small kitchen, says Miranda.

To open up the space, the design team knocked down the wall that closed off the kitchen from the rest of the house. In its place, a two-tiered bar overlooking the dining and living area now helps the kitchen function as an entertaining hub connecting the rooms. "It feels much more like a great-room concept," says Banghart. "From the kitchen you can take in views of both O'Malley Ridge and Westchester Lagoon while entertaining guests at the same time."

The couple envisioned their new kitchen with plenty of smart storage solutions. "We wanted lots of storage space for dishes, pots and pans," says Miranda. One clutter buster is smartly tucked away beside the refrigerator: An opaque glass pocket door leads to an additional pantry area with more cabinetry and countertop space. Keeping with the uncluttered look "the oven and microwave are under the counters, which frees up a lot of counter space for food prep by more than one person," she adds. Professional-grade appliances in sleek stainless steel cater to the couple's affection for cooking and entertaining, and blend seamlessly with the overall kitchen design.

Along with brawn, there's plenty of beauty in this kitchen. In line with their love of natural elements, the light-hued carbonized bamboo cabinets take on a life of their own with poured-resin "prairie grass" panels. The cabinetry complements the room's true showpiece – the granite. Meta-sedimentary rock countertops from Brazil sway in soothing contortions of blue, rust, gold and jade hues. The countertop climbs the wall up to the ceiling to transition into both a backsplash and a mural that replicates the outline of the scenic O'Malley Ridge.

"The granite becomes more like an art piece," describes Banghart. "The homeowners said they 'wanted to look at something different every morning while drinking their coffee,' and that's exactly what this granite offers."

Additional details seen throughout the kitchen are designed to play well together. "We wanted the materials to speak for themselves," says Banghart. "Since the granite and bamboo cabinets are such intriguing pieces on their own, we did not add any color to the walls or try to have the spaces compete with one another."

The kitchen's original dark and uninviting atmosphere was transformed with an all new lighting plan. Recessed can lights overhead now provide an unobtrusive source of general lighting, and under-cabinet lights illuminate the countertops, offering enhanced visibility for food prepping.

Once bland and boring, the kitchen now radiates an inviting warmth with its marriage of soft, natural elements and bold, colorful countertops. For Miranda, the kitchen is not only good looking but smart and hardworking too. "I love everything about the remodeled kitchen and I don't think I would change anything."

*Homeowners' names have been changed.