Before & After: This Tiny Kitchen Remodel Forwent a Traditional Oven

When you’re dealing with a small space, very minimal designs are usually the preferred choice (or so the thinking goes). But when Nancy decided to remodel her Upper East Side studio, she made some bold choices in the tiny six-foot-wide kitchen—things that you might not expect in a room this size, but that give this little space a character all its own.

Previously, the kitchen was a bit of a blank slate. Neither beautiful nor ugly, it hadn’t been touched, except to replace the appliances, since the apartment was built in the ’60s. (Those metal-lined countertops are a telltale vintage detail.) Nancy wanted to add character to the kitchen, but she also wanted to add practical features, like a dishwasher. The only thing limiting her was her kitchen’s very, very small footprint.

The doorway from the kitchen to the adjoining living room was widened, which preserves the kitchen as a distinct space but helps it to feel a bit more open. After many, many trips to IKEA, Nancy finally decided that custom cabinets were the way to go, and selected cabinets from Home Depot. These ‘semi-custom’ cabinets were built to go all the way to the ceiling, which adds valuable storage to a small space. (Nancy does have a little IKEA storage in her kitchen, in the form of a trusty RASKOG cart.)

The most striking thing about the new kitchen is definitely the wallpaper. This ‘Tanzania‘ design, by Thibaut, is certainly an unusual choice for a small space, but it gives this kitchen a dose of verve and personality. Another thing about this kitchen that’s a bit unusual is what isn’t there: an oven. One of the things at the top of Nancy’s wish list was a dishwasher, and in order to make space for one she decided to go without a traditional oven.

Choosing to forego the standard oven range was probably my most ‘controversial’ decision—I really wanted that dishwasher—but I’ve come to love the induction top that fits into the countertop. The combo microwave/convection oven is perfect for my needs—it cooks just as well as most of the tiny apartment ovens and frees up a ton of space.

Kind of like the wallpaper, it’s a bold, personal choice that makes the most of a small space. With this renovation, Nancy has managed to fit a lot of style and a lot of function into a very little kitchen—and I’d say that’s a win.

Nancy found her contractor on Sweeten, a free service matching homeowners with local general contractors. You can read more about the project, see more photos, and find sources on the Sweeten blog.

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