Wendy Odabashian (pictured here) found her old, 50s-style kitchen only about 50 percent functional—and often overtaken by clutter. Real Simple recast it as a calm cooking and command center, where family flow and food prep could live in peace.
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After: Sleek Outside, Clever Inside
Spotless surfaces. With interior-cabinet space maximized, counters stay clear for cooking. A clean white refrigerator, free of photos and notices—it holds only caddies for pens and paper—opens up the room; it’s like adding a window.
A stove that fits better. Wendy’s old, 30-inch stove didn’t fill the space (there was a five-inch gap on each side). This commercial-style model is wider and serves as a sparkling focal point. Under lower cabinets, aluminum toe kicks replace peeling wood baseboards; they match the stove, the vent hood, the cabinet pulls, and the countertop edging to unify the room subtly.
To buy: Fisher & Paykel 36-inch European gas range, $2,499, lowes.com for stores. Perfekt toe kicks, $15 for 88 inches, ikea.com.
Lively hits of red. The new overhead fixture plays into the kitchen’s retro vibe and draws the eye up, making the roomfeel taller. The indoor-outdoor rug widens the narrow space, like horizontal stripes on a sweater.
Powder blue walls are an unusual choice for a kitchen, but they make the gray painted cabinets (original to the house, complete with some chips) blend in rather than scream to be replaced.
To buy: China Blue Aura paint No. 2052-60, $60 a gallon, benjaminmoore.com for stores.
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The narrow spice cabinet was near the front door, where the family needed a spot for pocket-emptying. The nook on the right was a dumping ground for a slew of random objects.
Found in (and tossed from) Wendy's kitchen:
1 manual for a long-gone toaster
2 pairs of cracked mirrored Vuarnet sunglasses, circa 1980
6 keys to mystery locks
5 CorningWare tops (no bottoms)
18 insulated mugs
23 spices, some brought back from Mexico 15—yes, 15—years ago
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After: Hidden and Open Storage
Stash zone. A puzzle-tight pattern of hooks and holders utilizes every inch of this cabinet (spices were relocated; see next page), with spots for keys, cameras, scissors, and glue. Wendy keeps school directories and other papers that formerly cluttered the refrig-erator in the wall pockets below.
Message center. A wall-mounted organizer and a kitchen cart make a non-area work hard. Wendy uses the bulletin board to hold to-dos and gift cards. The small bamboo newspaper caddy is also ideal for to-be-mailed bills, and key rings and money clips can stick to its magnetic surface.
Purposeful pantry. The family goes through a lot of cereal; clear bins let Wendy know when to restock. A charging station keeps gadgets juiced, and a hand vacuum rescued from the garage is at the ready. Wine bottles previously scattered around the kitchen stay secure in a floor rack.