Space of the Week: An Outdated Kitchen Gets a Timeless, European Cottage-Inspired Makeover

It’s a lesson in small-space design. 

Renovated kitchen with white cabinets and marble counters
Photo: Beginning in the Middle

Bryan and Catherine Williamson, the husband-and-wife team behind Beginning in the Middle, were looking forward to having Catherine's parents live nearby when they decided to move to Columbus in 2020. "I grew up in New Jersey," she says. "My mom and dad wanted to be closer to us in Ohio. Well, if we're being honest, they wanted to be closer to their grandchildren!"

Kitchen Renovation Before Image
The dim, dated kitchen before the renovation. Beginning in the Middle

Her parents bought a home in an established neighborhood not far from their grandkids, where mature trees shade mid-century properties. The kitchen hadn't been touched in ages, but Catherine could already tell that its cramped cabinets and dark finishes could give way to an airy yet cozy space. "We were inspired by a European cottage," she says. "We wanted it to feel like another room, not too utilitarian or sterile, while still being very functional."

The house remained vacant as the couple got to work removing everything from the kitchen in order to insulate the outer wall and rebuild the layout. "Creating the most efficient design was the biggest challenge," Catherine says. "My parents are retired, so we aimed for it to work for them as they are." She settled on a galley configuration that's open to the dining area, making it easy for Catherine's mom to chat as she cooks—something she loves to do every night. Upper cabinetry in a creamy shade would be brought all the way to the ceiling to give the illusion of taller walls, and most of the lower cabinets would have easy-to-open drawers. On the far end of the kitchen, a pantry would keep all necessities within reach.

Pantry Storage Cabinet with groceries
Beginning in the Middle

"We were intentional about every last detail," Catherine says. This included disguising the dishwasher to blend in with the cabinets, and adding "furniture-end" panels to the sides facing the dining table for an appealing layer of dimension. There are also two three-tier drawer banks that hold all meal essentials, as well as a pull-out trash bin and a pull-up stand mixer to simplify those duties. Design wise, shallow beams, new hardwood floors, brass hardware, marble countertops, and a glazed-tile backsplash achieve the timeless look the family was after.

"Overall, we learned that small spaces can be functional and beautiful," Catherine says. "Especially when they're designed with so much intention."

Get the Look:

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Glazed Tile Backsplash

Lowe's White Glazes Kitchen Tiles

Glazed tiles are both on-trend and timeless, making them the right choice for this kitchen's Old World yet of-the-moment look.

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French Country Faucet

Brass Kitchen Faucet

Rather than opt for a sleek, modern faucet, choose one with classic style. Don't worry, it comes with a side sprayer for rinsing dishes, so you get the modern conveniences along with old-school style.

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A Painterly Portrait

Minted Painted Portrait of a woman

To prevent a kitchen from feeling too impersonal, introduce some artwork. A dreamy portrait won't go out of style and is subtle enough to blend into the space.

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A Set of Sconces

Circa Lighting Brass Sconce with lampshade
Circa Lighting

A pair of brass sconces on either side of the sink not only provides adequate light for dishwashing, but with curved brass bases and silk lampshades, they introduce some elegance.

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