Natural Home Kitchen of the Year 2008: Small and Beautiful

This kitchen proves that enlightened doesn’t have to mean enlarged.

| September/October 2008

  • At just 148 square feet, this formerly dysfunctional kitchen was made stylish and liveable with a few small changes—and a small budget.
    Photo By Michael Jensen
  • The kitchen’s two adjoining rooms were reconfigured to improve work flow. Original fir flooring was refinished with low-VOC paint and AFM Polyureseal.
    Photo By Michael Jensen
  • The small pantry sink is convenient and melds well with the reclaimed Madrona countertops.
    Photo By Michael Jensen
  • Katey’s favorite aspect—the juxtaposition of historic and modern—is expressed in sleek steel tracks and modern recycled resin panels mixed with reclaimed hardwoods.
    Photo By Michael Jensen

Katey Miller and Scott Goodrich put up with the troublesome kitchen in their century-old Seattle home for nearly a decade. “The sink was in one room, and the stove and fridge in another; if we were making pasta, we had to carry the pot from one room to the other,” Katey says. “There was hardly any counter space, and there was maybe one electrical outlet. It was a challenging kitchen.”

When they couldn’t stand it any longer, Katey and Scott turned to Katey’s friend Jan Kunasangeamporn, a fellow painter whose aesthetic sense Katey admired. Kunasangeamporn’s firm, Batt + Lear, is dedicated to green building, so she introduced Katey and Scott to the concept. “It was an eye-opening experience,” Katey says. “Now I’m convinced that it’s important to use green materials. I also think they’re more beautiful—especially these reclaimed woods.”

The main criterion—both green and economical—was that the new kitchen stay within the narrow footprint of the original. “The space had a really nice character, and it just seemed that we could work with it and make it more delightful,” Batt + Lear co-owner Jason Lear says.

Kunasangeamporn, with construction lead Kevin Svik, made a few simple moves to improve the layout dramatically. They relocated the main sink from the pantry into the main kitchen, shifted the refrigerator and range to improve workflow, and created continuous counter space by relocating the door to the adjacent mud porch. Then, she added a new glass door (locally manufactured) to bring in more sunlight. Finally, she opened up the solid wall between the pantry and dining room, installing a bar top made of reclaimed Madrona (a hardwood native to the area) where guests can sit and talk to the cook.

The designers worked hard to preserve what they could. Rather than discard the original pantry cabinets, they painted the cabinet interiors with low-VOC paint and added large sliding doors made of Madrona frames with 3form recycled-resin panels. A local blacksmith made the slider hardware. They replaced the rotting and shallow countertop with a deep butcher-block countertop made of reclaimed Madrona.

Katey and Scott love their new kitchen. “It’s beautiful, it’s much more functional, and we actually cook more now because we can enjoy doing it,” Katey says.

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