Small, Dated Cabin Kitchen Receives Major Design
By Barbara Capella Loehr
JEFFERSON, ME The owner of a cabin in this small town simply
wanted to install a dishwasher in the kitchen.
Then she took a good, long look at the existing range, which the
previous owner had let go to the point where it was down to one
working burner. Obviously, a brand-new one was in order. Before
long, the desire to replace and install a few simple appliances
turned into dreams of completely overhauling this small, dated
That’s when Donna Carrigan, CKD, CBD entered the picture.
Carrigan is the owner of Dovetail Design in nearby Walpole, ME, and
she knows that renovations, no matter how large or small, tend to
snowball as more solutions are required for existing design
dilemmas. This kitchen was no exception.
“When the owners, a husband and wife, found this beautiful,
lakeshore retreat five years ago, it was little more than a rustic
cabin what Mainers call a ‘camp,'” notes Carrigan. “Realizing the
location on the lake was a sound investment, they went ahead with
the purchase, and began converting their camp into a cozy,
That’s why the addition of a dishwasher turned into a full-scale
makeover, adds Carrigan. “The old galley kitchen was adequate for a
weekend or vacation camp. But after years of living in it every
day, the couple knew they wanted something better,” she says.
Indeed, in addition to the lack of dishwasher and a range with
one working burner, the original kitchen was saddled with home-made
cabinets that didn’t close, open undercounter shelves, a red
linoleum floor, worn yellow laminate countertops, worn-out
appliances and a lack of storage and good work space. The windows
did not even take advantage of the fantastic view of the lake,
The designer started assessing by the owners’ wants and needs
for the new kitchen, such as expanding the existing footprint. It
was there she ran into her first obstacle. Carrigan soon realized
that despite the clients’ desire for a larger kitchen, an expansion
was out of the question.
“The combination living/dining room next to the kitchen could
not afford to lose any space. The kitchen itself was already long
enough, and pushing out a side wall would mean sacrificing a
cherished deck, which sits right on the property line,” she
This deck had already needed to be cut back since it originally
sat slightly over the property line and the neighbors would not
sell the sliver of property it covered, she adds.
So, Carrigan was forced to work within the existing footprint.
“The design was definitely a challenge,” she notes. “With a room
just over 7′ wide and 19′ long, it was quite a challenge to adhere
to the NKBA’s design guidelines. Within the space we had to keep
two existing doorways one into the dining area on one long wall and
one to the outside deck the opposite long wall.”
The owners wanted to update the cabinetry, countertops and
flooring, as well as the appliances. To that end, Carrigan gave
them custom pine cabinetry from Adelphi Kitchens that features
Legacy 1 inset doors, chrome cup pulls and a Pinebrook stain to
match the existing pine paneling of the dining area. She also
installed Maine Deer Isle Granite countertops by Morning Star
Marble & Granite and a Solida cork floor with an Antiquity
She used the existing Maytag refrigerator, but gave them a new
Bosch dishwasher, Thermador range and GE microwave to enhance the
The owners also wanted room for two cooks, tons of storage space
and plenty of natural light with a good view of the lake. In
addition, Carrigan had to make room for the existing stacked
washer/dryer, as no other room was large enough to accommodate it
While squeezing all of these elements and requests was certainly
a design dilemma, Carrigan was able to cleverly overcome it.
Because the existing door was placed directly opposite the
opening to the dining room, it made sense for her to divide the
long space into two function areas. “By placing the stacked
washer/dryer in the far corner of the kitchen and building it in
and providing wall cabinet storage above it, as one would do over a
refrigerator, it was a logical progression to place the existing
Maytag refrigerator beside it and build that in, as well,” she
On the opposite wall, Carrigan installed two shallow pantries to
accommodate bulk storage items. She balanced open shelves that
provide cookbook storage between the pantries. Underneath the
shelves, she placed a base cabinet for storage and a countertop
that can be used as a landing space for refrigerator items and as a
separate prep area when needed. It also comes in handy when doing
laundry, says Carrigan.
“Designing the base cabinet with angled sides freed up a little
more precious floor space, and also added visual interest to this
tiny, yet efficient work area,” she adds.
Turning her attention to the main portion of the kitchen,
Carrigan began installing the other appliances. However, there was
“[The wife] wanted the dishwasher to the right of the Elkay
undermount sink. But that turned out to be a design problem. With a
room just 88″ wide, having the dishwasher door down would
immediately block traffic to most of the working area,” she
Carrigan’s solution involved placing the dishwasher to the left
of the sink. That way, “it could be open and still allow access to
all other work spaces. And the owners agreed,” she notes.
The next design dilemma Carrigan tackled was the owners’ desire
for a sitting area overlooking the lake. Her solution? “They were
willing to sacrifice a little storage space in exchange for a
16″-deep, open countertop under the window at one end of the room.
Underneath are open wine cabinets and room for a stool. By gently
curving the granite countertop from 13″ to 16″ deep, there is room
to sit and chop vegetables or just enjoy a cup of morning coffee
while watching the sun reflecting on the lake,” explains
The sink featuring a Rohl polished chrome faucet sits under
another window that also captures the lake view. Progress recessed
lights along with task undercabinet lighting enhance the natural
light that window supplies.
All told, the kitchen was exactly what the owners wanted in
terms of aesthetics and function. “I’m not usually a fan of galley
kitchens in general, but this one came about by necessity, and it
works perfectly. Their very compact kitchen turned into a highly
efficient space with plenty of storage. It’s beautiful. And it has
a dishwasher,” remarks Carrigan with a smile.
- After assessing the owners’ needs and preferences, which
included updating the cabinetry, countertops, flooring and
appliances, Donna Carrigan, CKD, CBD, considered the owners’
primary wish for the new kitchen: expanding the existing
- However, Carrigan soon realized that an expansion was out of
the question because the adjacent living/dining room could not
afford to lose any space, and pushing out a side wall would have
meant sacrificing a cherished deck.
- The kitchen itself was already long enough, says Carrigan, who
was able to fit all of the function the owners wanted into the
space by creating one area for the existing washer/dryer and
existing refrigerator, and installing a new dishwasher, range and
microwave at the other end of the kitchen.
- Carrigan also installed granite countertops, a cork floor and
custom pine cabinetry with a stain to match the existing pine
paneling of the dining area.
- In exchange for a little storage space, Carrigan was able to
install an open countertop under the window that captures the view
of the lake at one end of the room.
- Products include: Adelphi Kitchens custom pine cabinetry with
Legacy 1 inset doors, Pinebrook stain and chrome cup pulls; Maine
Granite countertops by Morning Star Marble & Granite; Bosch
dishwasher (#SHU9912); Thermador range (#RDDS30VR); GE microwave;
existing Maytag refrigerator; existing stacked washer/dryer; Task
undercabinet lighting; Progress recessed lights; Elkay undermount
sink; Rohl polished chrome faucet, and Solida cork floor with