Clever Design Transforms a Trouble Space into a Spacious Contemporary Kitchen

Jennifer GilmerDecorating Diva U

Contemporary kitchen by Jennifer Gilmer

Having designed thousands of kitchens has given award winning kitchen designer Jennifer Gilmer the insight and experience to tackle even the most daunting of kitchen design projects. Jennifer describes the design challenges and the solutions she and her design team used to create an amazing kitchen from what had previously been an awkward space (after photo shown below).

Contemporary kitchen by Jennifer Gilmer

Jennifer Gilmer: The existing kitchen in this project was all wrong for the space.  It was jammed in the far corner where the breakfast table is now and a run of cabinets were on the left wall.  The table was placed where the box bay is now.  With those high cathedral ceilings, the entire existing space was totally out of proportion.  We decided that the best way to rearrange the kitchen was to move it to the center of the room, make a larger window with a box bay and to move the table at the end of the kitchen.

Downdraft cook top, cabinets and island.

Downdraft cook top, cabinets and island.

Box bay, cabinets, sink and island.

Box bay, cabinets, sink and island.


Jennifer Gilmer:  The kitchen was not quite wide enough for the island, so, by putting in the box bay, it allowed us to push the cabinetry into that space giving just enough room for the island.  In order to get enough wall cabinets, we placed the downdraft cook top in front of the large window, this way, we could run the wall cabinets right over the main sink (if the cook top was on that wall, we’d have to raise the cabinets up too high).  Since getting to the cook top from the main sink was blocked by the island, the solution to this was to place a smaller prep sink on the island near the cook top.

On the main sink wall, we needed to place the refrigerator, but, a large 36″ one would have taken up too much space.  To resolve this, we used a 27″ wide Sub Zero all refrigerator and then on the opposite side, we put under counter Sub Zero freezer drawers.


Jennifer Gilmer:  In order to get pantry space, we placed a pantry above the freezer drawers which matched in appearance the all refrigerator.  To eliminate that awkward space above the wall cabinet which occurs because of the cathedral ceilings, we put laminated glass wall cabinets there with angled backs which raised the cabinet height to be more in proportion with the high ceilings.  The lighting inside these cabinets helps to create a nice ambiance.

For the general space, we widened the doorway going into the kitchen from the foyer and filled in part of the cathedral ceilings in both the foyer and the kitchen which made the kitchen space more open, yet, more in proportion.  Lighting had to be dealt with since recessed lights would have been fairly ineffective, so, we used cable lighting to span the large ceiling spaces.

About Jennifer Gilmer

Jennifer Gilmer, CKD, is nationally renowned for her work in kitchen design. Over the past 25 years, Gilmer has designed more than 1,000 custom kitchens. Her award-winning designs span the spectrum from classic and traditional to sleek and contemporary.

She has won more than 15 national design awards for her work including the 2009 “Pinnacle of Design Award” from the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), which is awarded to the designer of the year’s best overall design. She also swept two other categories.

Gilmer founded Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath in 2007. She previously was co-owner of Kitchen & Bath Studios in Chevy Chase, Maryland and also worked for 8 years with designer Richard Tunis.

In 2009, she launched to serve a void in the marketplace – bridging the gap between high-end showrooms and the big box retailer. The online studio helps the homeowner, builder or architect achieve the best design by providing a full range of services, from floor plans and detailed elevations to 3D perspective images. With KDOL, a homeowner can get a custom design from a certified kitchen designer in two weeks for well under $1,000.

Her design and remodeling awards include: 2009 Southern Living Home Award – first place kitchen, 2009 “Pinnacle of Design” award  from NKBA, First place for Small Kitchens (2009, NKBA), First place for Medium Kitchens (2009, NKBA), Remodeling Design Award (2009, Remodeling), First place Regional Winner (2008, Sub Zero/Wolf Design),  First Place Classic Kitchen (2008, Washington Spaces), First Place Contemporary Kitchen (2008, Washington Spaces), First Place Medium Kitchens (2007, NKBA), Second Place Small Kitchens (2006, NKBA), and First Place Medium Kitchens (2003, NKBA).

She and her work have been featured in media that include Veranda, The Washington Post, HGTV, Women’s Day Kitchens & Baths, Southern Living, Remodeling, Home & Design, Washington Spaces, and Kitchen Trends.

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