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Small Kitchens, Big Splurges

A small country kitchen with yellow cabinets.

These maple cabinets from Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry feature a custom color finish.

What if your kitchen is totally teeny-tiny? Consider yourself lucky. Kitchens like these give you the opportunity to splurge on higher-end products, even on a smaller budget. While it's more challenging to squeeze the storage and work space you need into tighter kitchens, it's much, much easier to add style without breaking the bank.


Custom Cabinetry

In a medium or large kitchen, custom cabinetry can be a tremendous expense. In a small kitchen, the expense is far less, because there are fewer cabinets to order and install. So the benefits start to outweigh the costs. These benefits typically include:

  • Soft-close, full-extension drawers and roll-out trays to maximize storage usability

  • Soft-close doors for quieter operation

  • Custom widths that increase storage capacity and reduce unsightly fillers

  • Exposed furniture-style ends

  • Deluxe joinery

  • Superior, multi-step, hand-applied finishes

  • Lifetime warranties on construction and finish


Performance Countertops

Regular readers of Gold Notes (my design blog) know that I'm a big proponent of engineered stone countertops. They offer the heat and scratch-resistance of granite, but with a non-porous, stain-resistant finish that never needs sealing. Sensible Style is all about easy maintenance, and these counters, typically made from 93 percent quartz, offer that feature. They also offer a manufacturer's warranty, which I consider an added benefit.

The only drawback to these engineered tops has been their cost. Sometimes higher than granite, they are a large expense in a large space. For clients with smaller kitchens — and less counter space — they move into the affordable range.


A contemporary kitchen with quartz countertops.

Engineered stone countertops-like these in Chrome from Silestone by Cosentino-offer easy maintenance, stain resistance, durability and a manufacturer warranty.



Backsplash Bling

Backsplashes offer a phenomenal, highly visible way to add style to your kitchen. And with less square footage to work with, you can splurge on designer tile without breaking the bank. To create a focal point that is both stylish and sensible. be sure that the look and colors of your new backsplash integrate with the overall feel of your kitchen.


Kitchen with white cabinets and green tile walls.

Backsplashes-like the one shown here using Ann Sacks Capriccio ceramic tiles -add a style note to your kitchen.



Heavenly Hardware

Less space means fewer cabinets, which also means fewer knobs and pulls. So you can splurge on great-looking hardware without burning through your budget. For a sensible approach, only use knobs or standard-spread (3 to 4 inch) pulls. That way, if you tire of them later (or want to take them with you when you move), it will be easier to replace them with something else.


Dark wood cabinet with large silver branch as hardware.

Make a design statement with cabinet hardware, such as this Linea Oliva vertical pull by Sóko.



Finer Faucets and Fixtures

Sinks and faucets are often selected later in the design process, so they tend to be subject to harsher budget cuts. In a smaller kitchen, you may have the chance to get higher-end items in this category.

If you're going to use an undermount stainless steel sink with a stone counter, choose a better quality fixture, as undermount sinks are more difficult than drop-in sinks to replace later. Look for 18-gauge or 16-gauge steel. (The lower the number, the better the quality.) Other great sink options include granite and fireclay, both of which are durable and easy to maintain.

Faucets can be stylish as well as functional, and are a terrific splurge opportunity. Look added-value features such as integral filtration, motion sensors, or high-arc pull-outs, which make for easier pot cleaning. Optional accessories include soap dispensers and hot-water dispensers.


Granite kitchen sink with a high-arc faucet.

Made from Silgranit (an 80 percent granite composite material), this "super single" Blancoperforma Sink by Blanco offers durability, easy maintenance and optional food prep accessories.



Kitchen and bath designer Jamie Goldberg

© 2009, Jamie Goldberg, AKBD, CAPS. Excerpted from Gold Notes: Nuggets from the World of Residential Design. Jamie is an NKBA-certified designer of kitchens and baths in San Diego, CA, and offers Sensible Style for Home Seller consultations around the country. She can be reached at (619) 796-2217 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.








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