Take advantage of nooks and crannies to create more kitchen space (6/20)

June 19, 2009|By ROSE BENNETT GILBERT / Creators Syndicate

Q: We love the '40s kitchen in our home, except for a lack of storage and sitting space. An earlier owner took out the butler's pantry to gain room for a downstairs office. We put in a narrow eat-on island, but it's not really comfortable for guests - and we love being in the kitchen together! This is no time for expensive reconstruction. Any other advice?

A: You may be surprised by the source of the photo selected as inspiration for your old-fashioned kitchen. It's a new book all about "Contemporary Kitchen Style," by Mervyn Kaufman and the editors of Woman's Day Special Interest Publications (Filipacchi Publishing).

It goes to show that the quest for comfortable seating and ample storage is even older than your '40s kitchen - this one dates to 1901. In a recently retro-vated Edwardian house in San Francisco, the owners wanted to preserve the vintage atmosphere, yet expand seating, storage and overall functionality.


First, they took full advantage of the 13-foot ceiling height, adding storage and display space on top of the cabinets. Getting up there is half the fun with the cherry-stained sliding ladder that puts everything within easy reach.

Then they bumped out the small wall to create a mini-seating area - it adds only 18 inches of new floor space but looks and feels like a million. Besides, it frames one of the old home's best features, a century-old bougainvillea tree that graces the deck outside.

Inspired? Go back and study the nooks and crannies of your own kitchen. Any number of expansive ideas that don't require costly, saw-dusty and confusing reconstruction may be waiting to be uncovered.

Q: We are slowly turning our home into an art gallery of sorts. Both of us are passionate about the items we live with. We hear "what an interesting house!" from our guests a lot. But after l7 years, we still haven't found the right chandelier for our dining room. I thought I'd "cheat" and ask if you've seen anything terrific in your travels.

A: I'm glad you asked. Having hit both the High Point Furniture Market and the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in the last six weeks, my notebook runneth over with - dare I say - bright ideas for shedding light in today's most interesting homes.

One shining example comes from artist Diana Font, whose studio in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, is a trove of highly original ideas. Her "Firefly Chandelier" is an elegant tree limb wrought in gilded steel with leaves and lighted glass "blossoms."

Spreading over 69 inches of air space, it's definitely a work of art that also serves a purpose ( While exploring her site, don't miss Font's tree branch tables or the mahogany "Rattlesnake Chair" that takes a month to carve.

Another show-stopping chandelier comes from Currey & Co., where decorative imaginations run both wild and to the sea. A black chandelier is nearly 4 feet across and more than 5 feet high, with 10 lights and swagged chains of tiny shells. Own it for about $5,000.

The matching "Seaside Console Table," an underwater fantasy of black-painted shells and coral, is yours for more than $6,500.

Hey, it's art, it's handmade and it's exclusive - sure to be found only in the home of the brave. See what we mean at

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