Real-Life Kitchen Makeover
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.
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.
To buy: Magnetic pencil bin, $7, containerstore.com.
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.
To buy: Newbury fixture, $141, schoolhouseelectric.com for info. Willoughby rug, $108 (four by six feet), csnstores.com.
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.
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
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.
To buy: Bekväm cart, $60, ikea.com. Above cart: Daily System Office organizer, $54, and Corkboard, $34, potterybarn.com. In nook/pantry: KangaRoom charging station, $38, righttoolusa.com; Handled containers (cereal), $8, containerstore.com; Letter bin (on wall), potterybarn.com.
Tag-sale trinkets crowded the counter and the windowsill. A too-big dish rack hogged precious space. Cabinets were full, so overage landed on the counter.
After: Tidied-Up Counters
After: Tidied Up Cabinets
An under-cabinet spice rack keeps an edited selection in easy reach. Ventilated produce drawers original to the house were full of cookie cutters; now they’re put to proper use.
To buy: Totemspice rack, $60, purposedesign.etsy.com.
After: Tidied Up Cabinets
Pull-out racks solve the problem of digging out pots from the back.
To buy: Cabinet organizers, $40 each (nine inches), simplehuman.com.