Small Wonders

You don’t need 1,000 square feet and an unlimited budget to create your dream kitchen.

February 2007

One of the latest trends in kitchen design is the jewel box approach: Instead of blowing out walls to add on a mega-kitchen, designers and homeowners are building small but well to arrive at something truly perfect. And given the real­ities of Denver’s popular architectural styles—lofts, rowhomes, bungalows, and stately older homes—keeping the kitchen within an existing smaller footprint makes sense. “We are seeing more and more people staying within their existing structure,” says designer Laurel Quint of Q Design, “but creating something really special.”


The limited size results in more client-focused functionality, as designers must pay careful attention to how each petite kitchen is actually used. Some owners want to see their dishware, others insist on hiding the mess. One wants a six-burner range, while another is completely happy with what amounts to a hot plate. With little space to spare, homeowners end up with only what will work perfectly for them.

The trend has perked interest in space-saving ideas such as double dishwashers, which allow owners to cycle frequently used items from washer to table and directly back into another dishwasher, and under counter refrigerators so small they would qualify as a mini-bar. But the jewel box strategy also lends itself to higher quality. Instead of filling a huge kitchen with average grade cabinets, homeowners can upgrade to superior construction for fewer pieces. Ditto for better flooring and countertop finishes, as well as finer lighting and hardware, too. And saving on square footage often translates into letting yourself splurge on that pricey Viking range you’ve always dreamed of.

Perhaps the greatest advantage to the in-footprint remodel is expanded resale potential. Designed to enhance, not re-invent the existing architecture, a remodel makes for eye-popping walk-throughs. “A custom designed kitchen will often close a sale,” says Quint.

Here, three delightfully demure designs.