Lori Harney’s kitchen was far out — but not in a good way. The heart of her south Minneapolis house had seen its last update in the late 1960s and early ’70s.
In addition to being just a little too groovy, storage was so limited that Harney had to store pots, pans and small appliances in the basement. Then there was the issue of the refrigerator, which was located in the hallway.
“I love to cook, but I would have to make multiple trips,” she said. “I needed more storage, a better layout and just a more functional kitchen.”
While Harney was at it, she decided to go against the flow in her 1927 craftsman-style abode. “Everybody does those neutral kitchens now. I wanted bright colors,” she said.
It took zero convincing for designer Christine Nelson (Christine Nelson Design), who is semiretired, to take on the challenging small kitchen revamp.
“She loves color,” Nelson said. “And I love color, too, but I don’t always get to do that with my clients’ kitchens.”
Before the remodel, the kitchen was mostly neutral tones, with the exception of lower cabinets, which were a pale chartreuse.
Now, the kitchen is bursting with bold hues, starting with new Marmoleum flooring in “celery green.”
“Marmoleum is a revival of linoleum, which is really pure to the era of the house and a really green product,” Nelson said. “It’s really fun because it comes in big sheets so there’s not a lot of seams and they have these great colors. It’s really cushy at your feet.”
Harney, who studied art and printmaking in college, had an idea in mind for the backsplash above the stove: tile art depicting bubbles from a steaming pot.
Mercury Mosaics in northeast Minneapolis fine-tuned the idea and custom-made the tiles in blue and orange, with hits of chartreuse (a nod to the previous cabinets).
“It was a pretty quick process and they were able to manufacture the tiles within a few weeks,” Harney said. “They were labeled A, B, C, D and E for where the tiles should go. The tile guy said it was an easy process to install. I don’t do a lot of remodels, but I thought that was pretty cool.”
For the lower base cabinets, orange and turquoise were the colors of choice.
And although Harney and Nelson both loved going chromatic with the kitchen, it was important to show some restraint. They chose white for the quartz countertops, sink and most of the upper cabinets.
“I wanted ways to normalize all that great color that’s there,” Nelson said.
Making the moves
In order for the refrigerator to fit in the kitchen, the major appliances had to be relocated.
“There weren’t a whole lot of choices. Where the stove was located was the only place we could put the refrigerator,” Nelson said.
The stove was moved to where the sink had been and it made sense to move the sink “underneath the window, which is pretty common,” she said.
A new floor-to-ceiling pantry was installed in the empty space where the refrigerator once sat. The new arrangement gave Harney an unexpected bonus.
“She ended up probably with more storage in spite of moving the refrigerator into the kitchen,” Nelson said.
Electric baseboard heaters ran along one wall, which limited what could be done in that part of the kitchen. Nelson and Harney decided to keep the heating system intact and find a way to make the area more functional.
“That would have been really expensive [to remove],” Nelson said. “So we did a floating cabinet, which we call the buffet.”
Designing the upper cabinets between the refrigerator and where it meets the chimney wall was also a challenge.
The area “gets very congested and it would have been hard to open the doors and get things,” Nelson said.
Instead of cabinets, they decided on open shelving, which made for the perfect place for Harney to display her Mexican pottery collection, “[items] that were already in the colors she wanted for the kitchen,” said Nelson.
The kitchen redo was also a chance for Harney to update the appliances. She went with a dual-fuel gas range and chimney-topped hood vent from All Inc. in St. Paul.
“I love the modern look of the chimney top,” she said. And “the gas stovetop with an electric oven is really nice. The electric oven keeps a more consistent temperature than my old gas oven.”
Harney now has everything she needs — in one room. That makes it so much easier to cook her specialty pasta dishes, which she learned to make while spending a semester in Florence.
“It’s been really nice,” she said. “I don’t have to carry things from the hallway into the kitchen. I’ve got more storage, so I no longer have to run down to the basement to get pans and other stuff.”