A 4-Week Makeover for a Tiny Kitchen

See how architect Mia Quimpo turned a cramped corner into a homey and functional cooking space

Original Article: Tisha Alvarez Photography: Jun Pinzon Styling: Issa Villar Architect: Mia Quimpo

It’s no secret that the kitchen is the busiest area at home. Not only do we prepare meals in the space, we also grab quick bites in the area when we’re in a rush. Given these reasons, it’s important to have a kitchen that’s practical and inviting. To motivate you to always keep this part of the home in tip-top shape, we’ve revisited one of Good Housekeepings inspiring makeovers.

In 2011, the team decided to transform a cramped cooking area into a charming kitchen. The woman of the house, Lilia, uses the space to prep meals for her family. Unfortunately, it is not equipped to handle such tasks. “The kitchen was virtually non-existent being only a counter, [with] one outlet serving all their appliances. Their dining table practically was the kitchen counter while they ate in the living room,” shares architect Mia Quimpo, who was tasked to improve the space. In just four weeks, Mia was able to give the kitchen an overhaul. Take note of the changes done below and see how you can apply each in your own cooking nook:

Prioritize an efficient workflow.

Are you familiar with the work triangle? It pertains to the three important parts of your kitchen—the ref, the sink, and the cooking area. In Lilia's kitchen, the location of the sink posed a problem. "When you design a kitchen, usually it has to be a triangle, where the sink is in the middle," says Mia. The design team reworked the area's plumbing so they can move the sink.

READ: Design School: The Efficient Kitchen

Consider the layout of your space.

Prior to the makeover, there were pieces separating the living, dining and kitchen areas. Mia improved the first floor's layout by working on an open, free-flowing space. The family's entertainment system was pushed against one wall, while the china cabinet was moved to the wall near the dining area. With this new layout, the home looks airy and spacious, while the owners can go from one area to another with ease.

Keep the counter neat and organized.

Admit it, you won't feel inspired to work in a messy kitchen with clutter everywhere. Since every inch of counter space counts when it comes to prepping meals, limit the number of items you have on display. You can install wall-mounted racks where you can keep pans, jars, ingredients, and other cooking essentials. Find racks at SM Home.

Don't neglect electrical connections.

"The kitchen only had one outlet for the ref; the other appliances just shared [the] outlet, which is very dangerous," says Mia. Keep in mind that plugging all of your appliances into one outlet may cause an overload, which may then lead to accidents. To prevent this from happening, the design team installed extra outlets to accommodate the appliances in the space.

Maximize the available vertical space.

We've said it many times before, if you're short on storage, look up and find the answer to your woes. Vertical space can be turned into precious storage. In this kitchen, hanging cabinets were installed to give the owners space for their belongings. These cabinets extend up to the ceiling and now line the walls. To maintain a streamlined and airy look, some of the cabinets have frosted panels.

Tie the look together.

While we'd want the kitchen to stand out, it still needs to match the overall look of the house. For this makeover, Mia wanted the space that would blend with the house. "You don't want it to look so different, out of place. At the same time, I wanted a kitchen that they would be comfortable to work in," she shares. To achieve this, she worked with beiges and browns—neutral picks that match the home's green walls. Even the backsplash follows the color scheme as it has hints of green, yellow, and orange—colors that pop and add to the homey feel of the space.

RL Tip: Make sure your cabinets are kept organized, too! You can group plates together or allot a shelf for bowls. Fix your essentials in a way that would make it easier for you to get and return things easily.

Don't forget to personalize your kitchen.

Mia took into consideration Lilia's preferences when she designed the kitchen. "I wanted [her] to really feel like cooking, [to provide a place where] the family gathers together," she shares. Working with wood and elements that add warmth to the space helped the architect achieve a homey cooking area.

RL Tip: Spruce up your kitchen with things that make you happy so you'll be inspired to whip up delicious meals. You can decorate a corner with succulents or have your favorite quote printed and framed as wall accent. If the space allows, you can keep some of your favorite cookbooks in the area, too.

Ready for your own makeover? Get in touch with architect Mia Quimpo through e-mail at miaquimpo[at]

This article ("Little Miracles") originally appeared in the September 2011 issue of Good Housekeeping Magazine.

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