No More Ugly Duckling

Sink corner, after

One of the many pleasing transformations described in “Kitchen Think” involves this kitchen in the home of Kathleen Funkey. Located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, it’s one of just a few kitchens I’ve designed without visiting the site in person — not my preferred way of working, but I do my best to accommodate each job’s constraints.

The case study in the book covers the project in broad strokes, starting with Kathleen’s initial email stating her interest in working with me, so I won’t duplicate that here. What you won’t find in the book are images of what the kitchen looked like before; this blog is the ideal place to share those. The room was furnished with a mix of cabinets, all in decrepit condition. An original recess in the wall between the kitchen and dining room (below) had had its cabinet insert removed, leaving an impractical vacant space.

Sink corner, before

Kathleen wanted a kitchen that would suit her needs and look at home in the house.

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The big picture, before
The plan view layout

Before drawing cabinet elevations I spoke with Kathleen’s cabinetmaker, Jake Korpela at World of Wood. Having made drawings for other clients in the past who hired someone else to build their cabinets, I have learned the importance of emphasizing details – it’s galling to draw a built-in with inset doors hung on traditional butt hinges, half-inset drawer faces and a flush kick only to find that what the cabinetmaker ended up building was indistinguishable (at least, to sophisticated eyes) from something that could have come from a big-box home supplies store.

Stove area, before
Stove area, after

As the after images show, Jake did a bang-up job of following the drawings and building the cabinets. The soapstone counters complement the warm tone of the woodwork, and the room’s trim now matches that of other rooms in the house. The subway tile went in only recently – it wasn’t done when Matt Monte photographed the kitchen for the book.

Nancy Hiller, author of “Kitchen Think” and “Making Things Work

Notice how the counter right of the stove is cut around the chimney breast to form a pleasing overhang.

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One of the many pleasing transformations described in “Kitchen Think” involves this kitchen in the home of Kathleen Funkey. Located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, it’s one of just a few kitchens I’ve designed without visiting the site in person — not my preferred way of working, but I do my best to accommodate each job’s…
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