Project Tiny Kitchen


One of the bigger projects in my house is/will be tackling the kitchen, so I figured I might as well introduce it. When I first looked at the house, my realtor and I just had to laugh at it. You could barely open the oven door without hitting the adjacent cabinets. It seems the kitchen was just tacked on during some earlier renovation, hence the weird sloping roof. I had wondered about knocking the wall out and making it bigger, but then a tiny kitchen fits the tiny house and the cost would have been too crazy to factor in. My plan is to just utilize the given space in the most effective way possible. Thankfully, the hard and messy work is over – removing the left-side cabinets and patching up the wall.

My projects planned are to have 1. Lots of storage  2. Open shelves over the main counter  3. Backspash? Also what’s up with that 4inch thick window trim? 4. Replace main floor cabinets, new counter, single basin sink, apt-sized cooktop/built in oven. Needless to say, I will be tackling the cheaper stuff first – the main counter and appliance purchase will be the priciest portion.

First task in this kitchen project series is to create more storage. I thought about making a pantry over that whole back wall, but then decided it wouldn’t hurt to have a little more counter too. I didn’t want to close the galley back in again, so it would have to be a very shallow setup. I went to the wonderful, inexpensive, cabinet-wonderland that is IKEA, and scoped out the sizes of their cabinets. I went with upper cabinets, which were only 12 inches deep, and 24 inches tall, so they would be floating. In fact, I remembered Anna did something similar in her apartment too. The layout was super clean, and as a bonus – super cheap. Three cabinets, doors, hinges and pulls was all under $180.

Installation was a little challenging, just because that wall curves out at the last 12 inches. WONKY OLD HOUSE! I shimmed the main bracket so it was somewhat straight to the tile lines and once it was all installed, it turned out mostly plumb and straight. For a counter, I had thought about just using some of the IKEA butcher block, but wasn’t completely sold with the idea. Too easy. I needed something more ambitious, right?

Enter my good friend Ben – an amazing cabinetmaker and craftsman. Ben’s built some amazing creations, including my credenza, and as soon as I thought of him, I was ASHAMED at myself for even thinking of anything else. Now, I understand that having a master cabinetmaker in your friend bucket isn’t that likely… but the overall cost was quite reasonable when I considered how amazing it turned out. By the way, you should check out Ben’s work at Phloem Studio. I chose Western Walnut, and Ben ordered the boards from a local mill. After building it, he introduced me to a finish called Osmo, which is an eco-friendly finish that is also really beautiful on wood. Like oil finishes, it soaks into the wood, so you get great protection and the wood still looks natural and amazing – not plastic-wrapped like polyurethane.

So there you have it… the first steps in my kitchen renovation. Next step will be the open shelving above the main counters, and I’ll be sure to document that when I begin.

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35 Responses to “Project Tiny Kitchen”

  1. Ooh! I love!! The floor looks so much better & the cabinet opens everything up. Could totally see stainless steel, concrete, or butcher’s block counter top. Keep up the nice work!

    • MMP says:

      Oh yeah… I think concrete might be good… or stainless is super clean… Oiled butcher looks so classic… Lauren, you’re really no help! ha

  2. erin / dfm says:

    oh dear, that is MIGHTY pretty!

  3. Sally says:

    Oh my – what a transformation! Beautiful – and the walnut just looks luminous.

  4. lacey says:

    cool! love your wonky old house. :)

  5. Jen says:

    I love Osmo! We put it on anything that stands still in our house. Sky made us a kitchen sink using a $1.75 executive desk from Goodwill + a can of Osmo:

    • MMP says:

      Nice, really!? Is it on your flickr? I’m really intrigued now…

      • Jen says:

        Yeah, I tried sticking it in the comment but no go — see if this link works:

        That’s not the best photo – we were still figuring out where stuff would go at that point. We ended up leaving the pipes visible because I liked how they looked. That was a great little kitchen: when we moved in there was just a pipe coming out of the wall and one outlet – we got almost everything free from Craigslist, including that Frigidair Flair you can see in the rest of the set. Wish we’d taken better/more kitchen photos!

        • Jen says:

          He cut a bit from the front and put it up as a backsplash, cut out a hole for the sink, hung it on the wall, and then we coated it with Osmo. We painted the corner/wall underneath it a dark orange so it blended in a bit. We washed & drained dishes on that for more than a year and the Osmo held up perfectly.

        • MMP says:

          Great! Now that’s really having a vision beyond intended purpose – it looks very cool!

  6. Logan says:

    Man, walnut never fails to melt my heart and that is some NICE grain. I won’t throw away the tiniest pieces of walnut, I just can’t do it, I save it all. Great choice, everyone’s scared of wood counter tops for some reason. ? I really dig the extra long gray tiles in there too, makes it look more open. Good job dude!

  7. Anna @ D16 says:

    That looks awesome, Matt. I still haven’t put a top on the cabinets in my apartment, but this is definitely giving me a push! I’ll probably go the easy route and use the IKEA butcherblock, though. ;)

  8. Elizabeth says:

    It looks like the refrigerator is hiding in shame.

    The changes look great!

  9. Ken B says:

    Make that logo bigger, I mean make that kitchen bigger!

  10. OH. MY GOD. It’s BEAUTIFUL. I love the way the wood wraps the side of the cabinets, too. Just gorgeous. FANTASTIC job!

  11. megan says:

    this blows my mind.

  12. Kate says:

    So much better! I love seeing a challenge like this, and the way you’re meeting it. The floating counter is wonderful–a perfect blend of flatpack and the magic of talented friends and beautiful materials. We are about to tackle a small, wonky house and seeing this couldn’t have come at a better time. Can’t wait to see more!

  13. Emily says:

    Those cabinets are perfect! And I LOVE the tile.

    What are your plans for lighting? I rent and have a similar fluorescent light fixture (mine is even yellowed by what must be years of nicotine, jealous?) and I have no idea what to do with it. Any ideas?

    • MMP says:

      Thanks Emily. You know, I haven’t even really thought about lighting yet. You’re right, those fixtures are so gross. Mine’s got years of kitchen grease stuck to it. How does that even happen? When I tackle it, I’ll be sure and post. Good luck with yours. At least there’s some better fluorescent housings these days… might be easy to change up and take with you since it’s a rental?

  14. Chris says:

    Any updates?

  15. N says:

    Is that a solid walnut wrap or walnut ply with iron-on edge banding? It looks great. If solid, did you glue up the pieces yourself?

    • MMP says:

      That’s a solid walnut wrap. Ben, my friend pictured, did the glue-up and sanding in his workshop.

  16. Ryan says:

    I was looking through Morgan’s roundup of fauxdenzas and had to click through to yours (it was my favorite) I was excited to see that you used the OSMO polyx oil on your counter. I’ve been promoting it to everyone i know after using it on my cherry counters.

  17. Ryan says:

    Wow that cabinet looks great! I’ve always wanted to be hands on and build things myself. Where did you learn how to demo and renovate? Can you suggest where I can learn how to do things around the house? Thanks!

    • MMP says:

      Hi Ryan, thanks. I learned most of that by just tearing into things. I’ve always has a curiosity about how things work, so most is self taught. I’d recommend just digging through any handyman/carpenter books you can find too… libraries, garage sales… usually some good, old stuff there. Good luck!

  18. AG says:

    Yes, love the tiles! Do you remember who makes them or where you got them? Would love to know!!

  19. Lo says:

    Fantasizing about the project, totally want to do it myself, found this post on The Brick House, totally obsessed with everything leather, your blog is killer, but OMG I’m dying for another kitchen update.

    • MMP says:

      Thanks Lo, I’m ready too… think this rainy winter will get me to rip down the upper cabinets for sure.