Before & After: A Kitchen in a 1960s Cottage Gets a Major Expansion (and a Lot More Storage)

published Feb 23, 2022
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Small, enclosed kitchens have their appeal — but for a place like a lake house, meant for entertaining, a kitchen that can only fit one person comfortably is a no-go.

In Sarah Sherman (@simply.sarah.home)’s 1968 lake cottage in Virginia, the kitchen floor plan was original to the the house. Translation: It was tiny, with a small pass-through window and a bar-height formica counter dividing the kitchen and dining space.

Not only was the old kitchen barely wider than its doorway, its cabinets (also original, from 1968) were beginning to smell. “The oven range didn’t vent to anywhere, and every surface had absorbed cooking smells and couldn’t be cleaned,” Sarah explains. “The cabinets smelled so bad after years of use and there were previous water leaks that were never fully addressed in the past.”

Over a weekend, Sarah and her family rented a dumpster and decided to demo the kitchen, opening up the space for a major re-install of appliances, cabinetry, and lighting. “I knew immediately that removing the kitchen wall would help create a larger kitchen space,” Sarah says.

During the reno, Sarah’s husband laid new floors, while she painted every surface. For the rest, they brought in pros.

Sarah and her husband hired professionals to install new navy cabinetry, rearrange plumbing, and safely install new appliances. “After about a year of waiting for appliances, I finally found the deal of a century for a $150 JennAir downdraft range,” Sarah says. “We were anticipating over $3,000 for a new one!” Purchasing it from a Habitat for Humanity ReStore meant that they could avoid shipping delays and get a majorly good deal.

Her advice to future kitchen renovators? “Order your appliances NOW.” (Or be vigilant with your secondhand shopping.)

With the appliances finally installed (plus newfound money in their budget!), Sarah hired pros to install new countertops, tile, and lighting; she also brought in a carpenter to create a banquette bench with hidden storage.

Sarah and her husband stained the counters and painted the bench themselves. The bench is one of Sarah’s favorite parts of her design. “It just made sense to do a built-in banquette and make it look like an extension of the cabinets,” she says.

In general, she’s proud of the practicality of her new kitchen — with much more drawer space and room for a new dishwasher — and also its style. “I love that everything feels bright and airy, but also lived in and collected, still keeping the character of the home,” she says. “I am proud to see something I designed on paper come to life!”

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Before and After: A Tiny Cottage Kitchen Gets a Major Expansion (and Lots More Storage)