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Emily Henderson

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by Velinda Hellen
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Velinda here again, welcoming you to my home. Sort of. I welcome you to the 400-square-foot tiny hobbit-home that my 980-square-foot bungalow sits above…likely the basement at one point. Revealing this “Makeover Takeover” as the introduction to my home is like skipping to read the final page of a novel. You’ve missed chapters. Here are the CliffsNotes:

In 2012, I called my mom and said “Guess what! I just bought a sh**hole!” The place was bank-owned and left unlocked, having sat on the market for months with no interested parties. Nobody wanted her and for good reason. She was neeeeeeeedy. The hobbit-home looked like this:

Velinda Basement Before Images 1

We found a contractor willing to teach us, help us and loan us tools. My mom, stepmom, 11- and 13-year-old step sisters (pro tip, child labor is cheap) and a couple of very good friends put on their construction hats (kidding…we couldn’t afford those) and made the house a home, or at least liveable-ish, at first. It’s taken YEARS to become truly comfortable and stylistically, it’s still mostly filled with decent Craigslist purchases I made in my mid 20s…but I love it! (Speaking of being comfortable, anyone want to donate a central heat and air unit to someone in need?).

Throughout the years, these lower 400 square feet have provided storage during endless construction, a getaway for roommates during years of co-living and even a private place for a friend of mine to shag a long-time crush. But now I’m all grown up (?) and it was time to clean this space and make it a welcoming place for my new mother-in-law, Nancy, to stay when she visits from Nebraska.

So, skimming all other chapters for now, let’s skip straight to the glass slipper fitting, the beast becoming the prince, the basement becoming a beauty:

Emily Henderson small kitchen ideas

I’m going to share a fantasy with you guys: Tiny. Home. Design. If I could find a way to make a living designing interiors for Airstreams and tiny homes, I’d ditch Emily YESTERDAY (secrets stay here). The standard kitchenette with only a microwave, mini-fridge and tiny sink sounded like no-fun. I wanted Nancy to do everything she could do in her own kitchen here, in under 50 square feet.

Besides worrying over function, style was of course priority. Since my house is a 1926 bungalow with a bit of Spanish flair, I wanted something classic with touches of rustic (which was hopefully achieved through styling)…pulled together in a modern way. These were inspirations:

Emily Henderson small kitchen ideas
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Emily Henderson small kitchen ideas
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Emily Henderson small kitchen ideas
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Emily Henderson small kitchen ideas
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Emily Henderson small kitchen ideas
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The very first thing I knew about this design was that I wanted a Smeg fridge. If the fridge was going to take up 20% of this kitchen, it HAD to be pretty! No appliance designer pulls off classic yet modern the way Smeg does. Being a European company, they offer several space-saving solutions. I chose the Fab28 because it was compact but still includes a freezer compartment. A tiny kitchen doesn’t have to have an itsy-bitsy refrigerator. This fridge is the sexiest appliance in my entire house and I’ll probably have to venture down to hug it now and then. I mean, how cute would this little guy be in an airstream?

*** There are a few sleuth readers who have caught that we flipped the Smeg handle in photoshop. Here’s the deal, we swapped out refrigerators, so edited most photos to reflect the look of the correct unit, which opens right to left. But I’m seriously impressed by you… Your childhoods must’ve included a lot of ‘circle the difference’ games!

Emily Henderson small kitchen ideas

When I renovated my upstairs kitchen in 2016, I was scratching plans (not to scale) on notebook paper trying to determine how to maximize function while fitting in standard sized cabinets. This nightmarish process sent me running for design school (100% true). Because who wants to Google when you can handover $20K to UCLA instead?!

For this tiny kitchen project, I found Cliq Studios, first because I was drawn in by the fact their site didn’t say “call for quote.” A phone call??? Aggghhhh! Pass the Xanax ;). I was able to shop and find the pricing right there, online. I was hooked. Turns out, Cliq Studios could’ve spared me that college fortune because their cabinet order comes with professional design plans, measuring and RENDERINGS. Even as a designer, having a specialist’s help was invaluable (thanks, Jayelynn!) because she was familiar enough with their products to get creative (we flipped a standard cabinet—the one holding the oven—upside down to provide a drawer for baking sheets). I can’t say enough good things about working with these guys! The only difficult part was choosing between their color options. I LOVE moody colors and they had several that were tempting, but I ultimately opted to keep the shade light to avoid further shrinking the already tiny space (which can happen with darker colors as they absorb light). I chose the color ‘Harbor’.

Emily Henderson small kitchen ideas

Speaking of using light to spatially trick the eye, I turned to Clé tile. Look how light bounces off that Zellige tile! I cheated here because we used the same tile on a floor in the Mountain House, but I’ve seen first hand how reflective yet classic these handmade tiles are. They’re subtle but not boring thanks to the organic variations that come from being handmade (shout out to my contractor, Pete at LA Doors & More, for not murdering me when he found out each tile is laid individually. Anyone in LA looking for an amazing contractor? He did everything except install the resilient Bedrosians Magnifica Basalto porcelain countertop slab, which I LOVE! For that, I thank Perry Masonry).

Emily Henderson small kitchen ideas

Keeping in theme with “light and reflective,” I chose nickel finishes, which I hadn’t used before but liked how timeless yet warm it felt. I found the knobs and pulls at Schoolhouse and loved the minimalistic details (like the hatching on the simple knob). I found the Rohl polished nickel faucet on eFaucets where I ended up also easily finding the sink, garbage disposal and accessories (polished nickel towel bar, cutting board etc).

Emily Henderson small kitchen ideas

The cutting board fits over the sink opening, adding to the limited surface space. There’s also a roll-over-the-sink drying rack for dishes to save the space on the countertops traditional drying racks can take up.

Emily Henderson small kitchen ideas

And now for the choice that I thought might cost me my job. I didn’t want the standard, mini-kitchen sink. I wanted something that’d fit a stock pot or dutch oven but still maximize counter space. So I turned a standard-sized sink sideways…meaning the drain isn’t centered. Uncouth, I know, but this utilized every inch allowed by the narrow 20” wide (yet 24” deep!!) base cabinet. PLUS, it maximized the storage space below by positioning the garbage disposal (which was one of my must-haves) off to one side instead of centering it, freeing up half the cabinet!

Emily Henderson small kitchen ideas

Note that a wall-mounted faucet allowed maximum space for the sink. I tried and tried and tried to also squeeze in a dishwasher drawer here (a great space-saving solution!), but would have had to sacrifice the garbage disposal and I care too much about our plumbing, so alas. But if any reader has ever pulled off that single-cabinet trifecta: kitchen sink, garbage disposal and dishwasher call me…I’ll marry you. (Disclaimer, I come with a wife…but a two-for-one deal!)

Emily Henderson small kitchen ideas

Utilizing vertical space for storage is a common small-space hack. But low ceilings add to the limitations of our tiny hobbit headquarters. That meant thinking even smaller. Instead of mounting pot racks, I used a towel bar mounted to the ceiling beside the range hood and a tie rack with S hooks on the exposed end of the cabinet for small, low-profile storage solutions. I also incorporated a magnetic knife strip above the cooktop to free up additional drawer/counter space.

Emily Henderson small kitchen ideas

Emily Henderson small kitchen ideas

The MVP of freeing up vertical space (and the detail that makes my minimalist heart drool) is the quarter-inch bracket-less open shelving. I found the maker, Shelfology, on Etsy…and boy are these guys detail-savvy! The shelves (I used their Tromso shelf system) are powder-coated metal and come in standard sizes or custom designs and can be made in any color (they’re linked in black in the below Get the Look, but I had mine made in white to blend in with the backsplash). They attach to wall studs and fit beneath drywall, so they have to go in during construction, but they are as sturdy as they are sleek! (The folks at Shelfology were kind enough to extend a promo code specific to EHD readers for $25 off $100 or more on the Tromso shelves, using code TROMSO25…expires March 31st).

Emily Henderson small kitchen ideas

I don’t cook, but I’ve heard rumors that a kitchen needs more than a microwave. Research suggests it also needs a convection oven for baking, a stove, a grill, a broiler, a speed oven and more. Basically, a lot of space-sucking contraptions I didn’t have room for. Oh, and a range hood/fan to keep the chef, who is generous enough to dedicate time to each of these machines, from suffocating in clouds of smoke (explain to me again why people enjoy this? 😉 Fitting all of these things into 49 square feet was the biggest challenge.

The easiest part of the solution was a built-in two burner stove. Even you chefs have to admit all four burners are rarely used at once, so a four-burner would have been wasted counter space. My first instinct was to place a microwave above for both cooking and fanning solutions, but it seemed the heaviness of such a box might be too eye-assaulting in such a tiny space.

Instead, a charcoal-filtered, recirculating hood provides a concealed, ventless fan solution. And the Beyoncé of it all, the Oprah of this kitchen, let’s all bow to the coolest, affordable tiny kitchen solution I’ve found: the Master Chef 5-in-1 oven. Multi-purpose appliances are a must if a kitchen is spatially-challenged! This oven is the size of most microwaves but the interior is designed to fit a full cookie sheet. It bakes, grills, broils, cooks and microwaves…and can fit in a 24” cabinet. It’s the whole kitchen in one small box. MAGIC.

Emily Henderson small kitchen ideas

The last design piece that excited me is the flooring, which isn’t particular to tiny spaces but is a fantastic solution for kitchens/basements…any room that’s prone to water exposure. It’s a vinyl plank flooring from Cali Bamboo and it’s 100% waterproof on all sides and easy to install over uneven subfloors. And it’s affordable.

Emily Henderson small kitchen ideas

I’ve mentioned “affordable.” Honestly, some of the design was budget and some a splurge. Overall, it’s a mid-level renovation and the most expensive of any my house has seen, coming in at $23,000. That’s thousands more than my micro-budget, much larger upstairs kitchen reno. As a result, I didn’t have funds left to shop for styling, so I pulled from what I, Bowser and Emily already owned. Since a lot of these items are older/unavailable, the Get the Look includes similar, budget-friendly pieces. 

Take this micro-kitchen and the attached 350-ish square feet; throw it on a couple of acres within reach of a city, toss in a dozen adopted dogs, a cat and some chickens and you’re looking at our retirement plan. In the meantime, Nancy gets to enjoy her newly-earned retirement in The Shire of the city…she’ll just have to excuse my occasional invasion to kiss an appliance or two.

Emily Henderson small kitchen ideas

1. Refrigerator by Smeg | 2. Countertop | 3. Knife Holder | 4. Wood Flooring | 5. Tile | 6. Cabinets | 7. Faucet | 8. Hood | 9. Electric Burner | 10. Knob | 11. Drawer Pull | 12. Sink | 13. Garbage Disposal | 14. Roll Up Dish Rack | 15. Oven | 16. Paper Towel Holder | 17. Cutting Board | 18. Hanging Rack | 19. Thin Wall Shelving

Emily Henderson small kitchen ideas

1. Village Print | 2. Rimmed Dinner Plates (set of 6) | 3. Dish Towel (set of 4) | 4. Silverware Set (20 pc) | 5. Pitcher | 6. Glass Goblet | 7. Wine Glass (set of 6) | 8. White Wine Glass (set of 6) | 9. Stoneware Mug | 10. Ceramic Tumbler | 11. Coffee Press | 12. 3 Piece Container Set | 13. Serving Platter | 14. Rectangle Serving Platter | 15. Wood Cheese Board | 16. Salad Bowl (set of 4) | 17. Ivory Bowls (set of 6) | 18. Grid Print Bowl | 19. Wood Ceramic Salt Grinder | 20. Wood Ceramic Salt or Pepper Grinder | 21. Salt and Pepper Shakers | 22. Cast Iron Skillet | 23. Slotted Spoon | 24. Cooking Spoon | 25. Adler Serving Spoon | 26. Cast Iron Enamel Skillet | 27. Wooden Tray | 28. Enamel Cast Iron Dutch Oven | 29. Knife Set | 30. White Creamer | 31. Sugar Bowl with Lid | 32. Spice Jar (set of 6) | 33. Vase | 34. Utility Baskets | 35. Basket with Lid | 36. Measuring Cup Set | 37. Paper Towel Holder | 38. Canister (set of 4) | 39. Glass Oil Bottle | 40. Glass Cruet

  1. This is my all-time favorite EHD post. And Velinda, you are such a good writer. So many great tips, such a carefully designed space. Dense with thoughtfulness. Accessible to us of modest means. Love those shelves! And I think I’ve now solved my cold concrete basement floor problem. Thank you.

    1. I agree… one of my favorite posts! So many good tips and suggestions.

    2. Agreed! Such a cute kitchen, and love the writing 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    3. Lynne, the flooring changed the space SO drastically and it’s so nice not to worry about water spills.

  2. Beautiful job, but why show Smeg photos before you switched the door?

    1. Because perfection is boring 🙂

    2. They didn’t switch the door, they photoshopped the handle to the correct side as it looks like the right-hand hinges are still on the fridge. Hopefully that’s a design mistake nobody else ever makes. To prevent: walk through your designs in your mind, reaching your hand out to open every door, turn every knob, use every appliance, get the food out of the fridge and put it down (d’oh, I just ran into the fridge door), turn on the faucets, take the food out of the oven, load/unload the dishwasher. You can catch your mistakes/problems before you build/buy them. Another common rookie kitchen design mistake: putting a fridge next to a wall without proper fillers/clearance (d’oh, I can’t open the fridge all the way!).

      1. I love this ‘walk through’ suggestion, KD. Such a good idea. And as Velinda updated Smeg just sent the wrong fridge, she ordered the correct one. So they are resending the right one but it didn’t arrive in time. Good Catch!!

  3. Such a beautiful space! Those lovely wooden cups with the white ceramic tops are still available here:

    https://davidrasmussendesign.com/collections/barware/products/wud-tumbler

    1. K, thanks… they were actually my Christmas gift from Brady!

  4. loved this post and all the choices made for the renovation. looks great, and this totally useful for those of use with small kitchens!

  5. This might be one of my favorites–right up there with Orlando! Love love love the design, the affordability and Velinda’s voice. Yay, EHD!!

    1. So flattering, thank you, Karen!

  6. I’m curious as to why you chose inset cabinets for such a tiny kitchen. Inset cabinets lose precious space over slab doors and seems like a no-brainer when designing for a small space. Those extra few inches make a big difference when trying to maximize storage.

    1. Visually it looks more high end. As for storage, cooking a lot and storing a lot is associated with a different lifestyle. Such person is unlikely to buy into a small kitchen like that. And that’s fine.

    2. If this were a primary kitchen I might agree (though I hate slab cabinet doors), but since it’s not, I think this is fine and looks sooooooo much better.

  7. Ok, just popping on here to say yay! Finally, an actual tiny kitchen makeover :). I’ve had three kitchens about this size (spanning about 5 years) and can say what people call small if often pretty big in comparison to an actually tiny kitchen. It’s hard to find good inspiration for such a small kitchen, but the crazy part is that I actually LOVED two of my itty bitty kitchens. They were so efficient! Now I’m going to read the whole thing and I’m sure I’ll be back with comments. Just wanted to start with a thank you for featuring a space like this!

    1. Amy, I agree! So many ‘tiny’ kitchens are actually ‘sorta small’ kitchens. Thanks so much for chiming in!

  8. Beautiful!! Velinda, you have such a voice. I enjoy reading your posts!

    1. What Heather said, lol.

    2. Thank you so much, Heather!

  9. I love that cabinet color!!

    1. Marcia, it’s called “Harbor”.

      1. From what company is Harbor?

  10. LOVE THIS. A great mix of high end and low end, designers we know and things we’ve never heard of. Obsessed with Shelfology now!! The one teeny thing I think this post is missing is a simple breakdown of costs. I really appreciate you detailing the total 22k expenditure, but I’d be curious to know 35% was for cabinets, 20% for installation/labor, 20% was tiles, or whatever it was, so readers can see what took the most $$ and where they might be able to save. Could I do this for 15k if I installed myself or if I nixed the gorgeous tile for something else? Would using used appliances only save 8% and therefore, probably aren’t worth it when you consider appliances tailor-fit to the space/future energy saving. You see what I’m getting at here.

    Also, it’s so teeny! You can’t really tell in the photos of just the kitchen, but I love the ones with humans in them. And please, more more more of small space design on EHD. Love it so.

    1. I agree…was this 22k not counting your own labor?

      1. Betsy, I very fortunately didn’t have to do labor on this one. My wife and I painted, but that’s it. So the $22K includes labor.

    2. Just came to the comments section to also ask for a breakdown of total cost! I love that you included the final amount, but breaking down like Emma requests would be so helpful for readers who see this and dream of recreating it somehow (with a more limited budget). Thanks!

    3. Emma, thanks for the feedback and tip. So glad you’re equally obsessed with Shelfology!

  11. This is just SO GOOD!!

  12. It’s a darling little kitchen. I too like the cabinet color. Wish links went straight to it if possible rather than generic front page of site.
    Also, is the “new” mother-in-law the same mother-in-law who helped do the work? I hope so!

  13. That olive oil cruet makes my heart skip a beat. Definite “lifestyle mafia” status.

    1. Haha. I love this.

      1. Ha. yah i had just got it as a gift from Food52 for Christmas and brought it over/lent it for the shoot. but I WANT IT BACK 🙂

  14. I’d love to hear more about the flooring…does it look “real”? We are starting a basement remodel and this would be perfect

    1. I can’t speak for this flooring bjt we installed vinyl plank that has tricked many many people — even people who KNOW decor, style and design. It was a good budget option for us at a time when we needed something fresh but CHEAP and bathroom friendly. (Two relatives saw ours and chose the exact same for main living spaces.) It’s a floating vinyl plank, planks adhear to each other but not to the floor.

      1. they look GOOD. We are actually going to use the same flooring in our basement (brian’s office/guest room) that has flooded (although I think we’ve fixed the problem .. still …). Stay tuned on that, but yes its awesome in person. You can kinda tell its not wood, so I don’t know if I would do it in an older home but for for the function and waterproofing it provides it looks GREAT.

  15. Love this tiny kitchen! So many great organizational tips for a kitchen of any size. You’re a genius for turning the sink!

    Can you all comment on this Cle tile, please? EHD has used it many times and it’s absolutely stunning BUT it seems like a nightmare to install? I have a stacked counter cabinet that ends in a corner and 3/4″ thick window trim—I think it would be flush with our trim and maybe be too thick to open the door to the stacked cabinet if that makes sense? Thanks in advance!

    1. It is thicker and a little harder to cut so yes, it may cost more to install than a simple subway tile. But its just so pretty …

      1. Thank you! I’ve been obsessed with this tile ever since you used it in your kitchen, Emily. And now in Velinda’s kitchen it never gets old! I should have looked before but did this evening and the Cle website has tons of info about the specs. The 4×4 tiles are thinner than the 2×6 and I wasn’t so sure about the shape but seeing it in Velinda’s kitchen lifts any of those fears!

  16. I’m confused about the layout of the house. This is a separate in law unit on the ground floor or back (?) of the house? Having a hard time visualizing the space. Those ceilings are so low, it’s hard to envision what era and purpose this space was intended for unless it’s due to a sloped hillside or something? Can you clarify Velinda (and I think it looks great just hard to visualize. I went to UCLA many moons ago too.)

    1. It’s a basement, so UNDER the house… I grew up in LA too and this is a rarity!

    2. Hi Kelly, fellow Bruin… yes, it’s hillside and a separate entrance.

      1. Ah, that makes sense. Another Angeleno (and Bruin!) here, and, yes, basements are scarcer than hens’ teeth here.

  17. When I pulled up this post, I literally said, “You’ve been holding on to this!?!?!?!” because I was so excited, surprised, you name it. I devoured this post. I love her writing style and I LOVE this mini kitchen.

    1. Thank you so much, Callie, that’s so amazing to hear!

  18. So good! I have to agree that these are my favorite posts and the writing gave me a couple laughs. I have always enjoyed the makeover takeover, and now I really want to see the upper level kitchen!

    1. I also would love to see the main kitchen that was done on a “micro-budget”!

    2. Same! Can’t wait to see the rest of the MIL suite and the upstairs!!

  19. Really beautiful. And shows off the Cle tiles to a T.

  20. One of my favorite posts and designs! Great job Velinda! I’d be very interested in knowing a more in depth cost analysis 🙂

  21. I would LOVE to hear more about Velinda’s house. I’m a bit confused as to what/where exactly this area is in relation to the main portion of her space, but regardless, her house sounds like such a relateable/referenceable renovation. Not huge, not immediately perfect, not redone on a balling budget. As someone hunting for their first house in an expensive area, I’d be very excited to see more. Please please, more chapters!

  22. This is just amazing. I am so impressed!!! So many amazing ideas and resources here. I really just love it all. The tile, the shelves, the cabinents, small appliance, the ingenious sink solution…. BRAVO! I’m dying to see more!

  23. Loved reading this, and loved all the smart ideas!

  24. perfection. I am LIVING for the cabinet/counter color combo and the smeg of my dreams. I also cannot get enough of that tile (I don’t know what it is about it that just makes me desperate to touch it) so y’all have my permission to use it in ALLLL the projects 😉

    p.s. Velinda, I am still obsessed with your hair/bangs sitch… so cool

  25. Love this post and chuckled my way through it then immediately linked over to Shelfology and chuckled some more while reading their website descriptions – thanks for the great resource!

  26. I love this post! I’m in love with the cabinet color and the tile back splash! Velinda, I am looking forward to seeing the rest of your house and hearing your amusing commentary!

    1. Thank you Allison! I hope to get to show you soon.

  27. Holy cow! Most of these ideas are either new to me (porcelain counters, dishwasher drawer, thin bracketless shelving) or totally GENIUS (turning the sink sideways with a wall-mounted faucet – say what?!). Add those with beautiful styling/photos and Velinda’s lovely writing voice, and this is one awesome post 🙂

    1. Heidi, THANK you. I’m so glad you found some new ideas… a lot of this was new to me before this project. I love the emerging technology of material options!

  28. Fabulous kitchen! I have a small kitchen myself so I looooove a post that gives the little kitchens the attention they deserve. 🙂

  29. More small space projects! I loved this!

    1. Right there with ya, Ashley! 🙂

  30. I would LOVE to see more small spaces! Adore everything about this kitchen.

  31. Thanks for featuring a small kitchen! I’m planning to redo my small galley kitchen in another year and appreciate all the small space, but big impact ideas. If only it had upper cabinets, as I’d never get by with open shelving with a family of four in my small space. Great post, Velinda and yes some of us “chefs” have all four burners in use on a routine basis! Though for your purposes I can see why you’d go with less.

  32. That TILE!!! Absolutely to die for. Amazing!

    1. Thank you! Glad you love the tile as much as I do!

  33. I love, love, love this. Those shelves!! But where did you get that amazing Olive oil. It’s the little things that make my heart sing.

    1. Bethann, thank you so much! The Olive Oil was a loan from Emily, but did you check out the ‘get the look?’ And I’m also obsessed with the shelves!!

  34. An interesting side effect of these employee home reveals is the income disparity it highlights between the employee and blog owner. Seeing Emily’s homes juxtaposed with Velinda struggling to afford central air and heat is food for thought. Cup of Jo and Cupcakes and Cashmere are two other examples that come to mind, where glimpses into their contributor’s homes and lifestyles unintentionally highlights economic divides.

    1. Sheesh. Velinda is a junior member of a firm and yet is lucky enough to own a home in the LA area. She has the disposable funds to renovate this home as she can and make it look beautiful. Sounds like she’s doing okay.

      Business owners, especially those who have built their business from the ground up, shouldn’t have to feel guilty about being successful. It’s okay to make more than your employees. It’s why people start their own companies.

      Economic divides aren’t always a sin–they’re a natural state of the business world. The person working the mail room does not get paid the same as the CEO. That’s reality not a crisis.

    2. I’m no expert/stalker but I think a) Velinda is younger than Emily, b) I think Velinda mentioned at some point that her wife is a grad student (whereas Emily’s spouse works FT and they have both been out of school for probably 15 years) c) Emily is on her second house and likely made some profit from the sale of her first (whereas Velinda is in her first home), d) Emily probably gets a lot more things sponsored and free and has been for some time now and e) Emily founded the company and probably gets paid more because she’s the boss. She takes on the risk that goes with having your name associated with a business.

      Everyone’s life track is different with schooling, loans, moving out/living with your parents, saving/spending, different family situations, etc. Also, everyone prioritizes their spending in different ways. Velinda certainly isn’t living on the street, she seems happy and healthy and was able to do a beautiful and fairly expensive renovation in her house. And who knows, maybe a sponsor will come along for some central air for Velinda.

    3. There will always be an “income disparity” between an employer and their employees. The fact that Velinda can afford a $22k makeover of her guest space indicates that, financially, she is doing alright. I do not see it as a negative that the owner of my company makes more than I do, when I am compensated fairly.

      This post is fantastic and to to see negativity in it “highlights” more about your POV than economic divides.

    4. Respectfully, the fact that Velinda and her wife bought a home in the Los Angeles area at all (where a person would be hard-pressed to find a tiny single-family home in major fixer-upper condition for less than $500,000, and where cost of living is insane) means that they’re likely doing fine. I understand concerns about income inequality and the growing divide, and I definitely have them too, but I’m pretty sure our efforts would be better spent toward boycotting billionaire-led corporations who don’t pay their workers a living wage (cough, WalMart)….

    5. My guess would be that Velinda had a window unit A/C and radiators or baseboard heaters, so I doubt she’s truly suffering – central air would just be nicer, but it is a MAJOR expense item to add to an old home that doesn’t even have duct work.

      I think it’s also worth pointing out that Emily started somewhere too – she built her company through YEARS of hard work, dedication, and a whole bunch of financial risk. Even today, the risk and responsibility for Emily to run this business are so much greater than what the employees take on just working there, and risk and reward are and SHOULD BE correlated. Velinda has only been there what, a year? I’m sure Emily is paying her fairly if she can afford a reno like this on a non-essential space. When she bought her house back in 2012, she wasn’t even working for Emily yet.

      Maybe your comment wasn’t meant as such a criticism – maybe you were just pointing out this risk/reward scenario. But I hope someday you are fortunate enough to own your own business and see both what an enormous responsibility it can be and reap the rewards of being the person who put it all on the line to strike it out on their own in the first place. Trust me, by the time you get there, you’ve earned every dollar.

      I think many people would kill for an opportunity like Emily’s employees get, and I think if this post is any indication, Velinda may be in Emily’s shoes someday, running her own business. The comments section certainly loves her.

  35. I am dying for some small space kitchen hacks, mostly small major appliances, ways to save space etc. My full-time kitchen is this size and I am I totally challenged by what to do with it.

  36. Love the reno, but more particularly love Velinda’s VOICE!! Sub in for Emily anytime and I’m here for it!!

    xo

  37. Wow! Beautiful job – that tile is perfection! Would love a picture of the inside of the sink. What an ingenious space saving solution.

  38. Perfection! Well done, Velinda!

  39. Dear lord, Velinda is hilarious. And also a fantastic designer. Thank you for this fabulous post!

    1. She truly is the whole package! We’re SO lucky to have her.

    2. Thank you, Mera. I’m flattered!

  40. Oooh, nice tiny space tips. We are just beginning to collect ideas as we plan a mother in law cottage/tiny house at the back of our property, so I’m pinning this for some great, nay, brilliant solutions.

    1. Thank you, Julie! Good luck with your own tiny suite:)

  41. Love this! Would also love to consider hiring you for our project. Please let me know how to get in touch

  42. Loving this kitchen. I love how you really thought out each space and what your needs would be before renovating. And 5 in 1 oven for $600 is a great price.

    1. Thanks, Vee! I thought it was such a steal and so smartly designed.

  43. This is fantastic! One of my favorite posts on EHD ever! Velinda – GREAT JOB! I would lovingly adopt you and your wife if you’re willing to come to Memphis and redo the kitchen I share with my lovely BF. Not sure what’s in it for you in this scenario… the BBQ? Oh and I am OBSESSED with those shelves. The whole time I was reading I’m like “but what about those magical shelves?” and the reveal exceeded my expectations. My long term dream is to build a house in my beloved Pittsburgh, PA and you’d best believe those shelves will be part of the design plan out the gate!

    1. Hahaha… Lindsay, BBQ works for us! You’ll be getting two dogs too 😉

  44. This is GORGEOUS and I love hearing about the hacks that made everything super functional for the space, even they broke some design “rules.” I dig this kind of post HARD!

  45. Velinda you are my new favorite thing. Love your voice. #inspired

  46. Velinda you are my new favorite thing. Love your voice, love your real-life solutions where resources and space are often constrained. #inspiration

    1. Kathryn, thank you so much! #smiling

  47. Oooh… can we see more of Velinda’s house? Also looking forward to Sara’s reveals! Following along on instagram is delightful…

    1. Maggie, we’re excited to show you more this year! Thanks for following along!!

  48. This post is an instant favorite! Love all the great ideas for small spaces without sacrificing style. Our first apartment was “married student housing” in college and it was 450 sqft. I often dream of living in something that size again.

    1. Thank you so much, Alexis! Downsizing sounds so ideal, doesn’t it? Did you have pets in your small space?

  49. Love this useful, insightful post! Velinda, you are the BEST daughter-in-law!

    1. Haha… Well, it means a built-in dog-sitter, so win-win for all!

  50. Heart eyes galore! And in such a teeny space.

    And daaaaaang those bangs!

  51. As someone who is about to be taking on a tiny kitchen project, I loved this post! Great tips and I love the style!

  52. I hope I didn’t miss it somewhere, but what color are the cabinets?

    1. You missed it in the article–Harbor

  53. This is so killer. Tiny spaces challenges all the design portions of your brain and more!! I think this a stellar little space, that I might trade my 3x larger kitchen for!! Smarter is often better than bigger!! Hats off to you!

  54. Holy Toledo!! This space is killer! Small spaces are the “all corners of the brain” design that I LOOOOOVE. Smarter is so so often better than bigger! Hats of to you Velinda!! And you are truly entertaining to read!!

  55. I am working on building a tiny Airbnb on my property and I know this post will be referenced again and again during the kitchen design process!! Thank you, love this so much!

    1. Casey, I’m so excited for you!!! Best of luck with the teeny reno.

  56. Absolutely fantastic post, feels like a while since a makeover like this was featured 🙂
    Mainly wanted to say i love that you have a mother in law’s tongue plant in there, ha!
    Also a question – genuinely curious why the garbage disposal? I just ask as i see these in so many US design blogs and they seem so old school. Our local councils in Aus. have free (larger scale) compost bins for all households as part of their waste management plans 🙂
    Thanks again for the awesome post!

  57. Velinda- you’re a great writer! Quick question: can you explain the process for the tiled hood insert? It’s SO sleek and lovely and special!

  58. LOOOOVE the idea of turning the sink sideways – BRILLIANT!! Oh, and the rest of the space is pretty darn brilliant as well. 🙂

  59. SUCH A GREAT POST! Kudos, Emily & Velinda! This kitchen is gorgeous and true #goals but also seems attainable! So innovative with the small space ideas. Thank you both!

  60. I bought a cottage in the Sonoma Valley last summer in need of a lot of TLC. I came across Emily’s post “Modern Deco Kitchen Reveal” and was immediately inspired to turn my little galley kitchen into a wonderfully beautiful space. I am getting ready to makeover a small studio on the property and this has come along at the right time to inspire me again. Thanks!! Wade

  61. LOVE everything about this post. 🎉🎉🎉

  62. Sensational post! Love all the thoughtful detail! THANKYOU very much for sharing Velinda, I remember your Emily mountain house closet post. As amazingly helpful as that was, you have somehow topped it with this post. Don’t think we don’t know all the thought that went into this. Thanks again, Gabrielle

  63. I found this post facinating!. So many good ideas and sources and a charming result.

  64. I love this! The pot holder is genius.

    1. Thanks, NC!

  65. Is this Smeg fridge also offered in a true white vs. an off-white? I’m always looking for nice looking white fridges! I’ve loved Clé Tile for so long – the zellige is seriously dreamy!! 😁

    1. Hi there. I know Smeg also makes true white. They have so many color options.

  66. This tiny kitchen design is genius. I would never have thought of the sideways sink! Looking forward to more reveals from Velinda’s house.

  67. Great post! I’m so curious about the actual ceiling height as I’m considering finishing out low ceiling basement this year. Can you share that detail? Hope I didn’t miss it in the article or comments. Thanks!

  68. You did a great job. I am sure Nancy is thrilled! Where did you get the undersink storage unit? Shelves are amazing!

    1. Hi Wanda. The storage beneath the sink is all from things we had, but I’m pretty sure it’s all Target/Ikea. I know the over the door towel storage is Threshold from Target.

  69. Velinda just became my new fav EHD designer! Sorry Em, I love you forever but tiny spaces were my absolute favorite study in design school and this tiny kitchen PLUS the retirement plan swept me away. Can I join your fam, Velinda? I have a fiancé and a pup named Wendell (after the environmentalist Wendell Berry). We’re a perfect fit. <3 Beautiful job, so inspired!

    1. Hahah, great! We’re starting a commune 🙂 Thanks, Kali… so flattering!

  70. Totally obsessed with this space! It’s not 100% my style ( I lean modern scandi), but who cares!! It’s so awesome! I’m so jealous over your oven/microwave….while I cook, I rarely use my oven and this would have saved so much space. We have a small condo kitchen, not tiny and I think of all the extra inches I would have had!!!!

  71. Beautiful make-over, Velinda. I really enjoyed your writing style, too.

    How did the cost of the porcelain counter-top compare to the price for stone, roughly?

  72. I was about to say I have a small kitchen but since it’s at least twice the size of Velinda’s, I guess it’s just small-ish. My fav tip is the Ikea cutting board that fits over the countertop edge. Mine slides over the sink and drastically increases countertop space. I got mine at Ikea for $10 (I think?). My other fav is magnetic knife racks; I have two and love them.
    Fun post about the real world. Or Hobbit land.

  73. This is amazing!! Proof that a small kitchen doesn’t have to mean stereotypical and boring. If my main kitchen looked this great, I’d be more than happy with it. So many clever ideas and that tile up to the ceiling is divine. Also love your writing voice Velinda.

  74. Nice job, Velinda! Both on the space and the post. Loved it all!

  75. I devoured this post. What a clever, gorgeous kitchen and a fun, engaging voice! Please show us more, Velinda.

  76. AWWWWW THIS IS AWESOME!!!!! Emily, please keep giving Velinda free stuff so she can keep renovating/styling her place and writing for this blog — VELINDA YOU’RE A KEEPER!

  77. SO inspirational! TY…well done!

  78. So inspirational!, we have a very small kitchen and narrow and finding a design that works is difficult. Btw, where are the exact wooden bowls from? you always find the cutest accessorises 🙂

  79. Love this post! Such a beautiful tiny kitchen and so helpful and packed with ideas and inspiration! Thank you, Velinda!

  80. I LOVE Velinda’s style and her writing! Those tiles are perfection.

  81. At first, I thought this was your principal kitchen, and I was going to say “You don’t have any more cabinet space than before with those open shelves!” But since it’s a guest suite, this is great. My favorite idea is flipping that cabinet with the stove upside down to get the drawer below for cookie sheet storage. Genius! I don’t know about the sink orientation yet…it’d take me a while to get used to it…but it was smart and really utilized that space below.

    Aesthetically, I love the cabinet color and the polished nickel (love the warmth of nickel) and those tiles!

    Lastly, I applaud your courage on taking on this house. Something I’d never have the huevos to do!

    1. I would love to see a photo of the sink. Still trying to get my head around it.

  82. WOW! I love this micro kitchen makeover!! I’d love to see the rest of the space sometime, I bet it’s just as amazing.

    I do have a question for Velinda – What sheen did you use on the ceiling, it seems like it has some shine to it and I’m wondering if in a space with low ceilings/little natural light it helps with bouncing light around. I have a similar space that has a low ceiling kitchen and I’m contemplating this myself.

  83. I find the design and style beautiful, and as a long-time Emily reader it is refreshing to see a space smaller than the mini-mansions usually displayed. I can appreciate inspiration and find it interesting to look at these extra-large spaces normally featured. But I have to say, parts of this post made me cringe. I can understand this is written by Americans and an American blog. But for many other parts of the world a 400 square foot apartment is in no way considered tiny. Small, sure, but tiny or extremely tiny, no. I live in Switzerland, am a professional adult with a well paying job. I pay almost $2000 a month for an apartment under 400 square feet and never, would I consider it to be tiny. Maybe I am out of line as this is intended for an American audience. I can get that. I am a viewer because I adore the style. I just wish there were more posts like this one, showcasing living conditions to what other parts of the world consider normal sized not excessive luxury.

  84. This is fantastic in so many ways. A stunning kitchen with so many smart ideas and hacks. I love Velinda’s voice and her explanations of her decisions. Would love to see more of the house.

  85. Wonderful! I seldom have the time to read an entire article and look up the resources but your article was perfect . Entertaining, yet direct with enough details to keep my interest and several new resources I would never looked into without your input.
    Congratulations on your new space and happy home to your mother in-law.

  86. WOW WOW WOW this is gorgeous and so inspiring for my slightly larger kitchen in need of a major refresh. From someone with a tiny of oven that doesn’t even fit a full baking sheet, I am incredibly jealous about your 5-in-1 oven miracle machine. Also, THANK YOU for featuring our serving spoon in your kitchen styling reccos – day made x 10.

  87. This is STUNNING! And amusing. Most amusing to me is that this kitchen looks like a reasonable size…until one looks at the photos with you, Emily, and your wife in the kitchen. Wee indeed. I would happily hire you to come design a kitchen in my home or future Airstream trailer.

  88. :O im inlov this blog !!!
    http://decoracion-para.com

  89. Beautiful! Just perfect.
    Talk to us about how this 5 in 1 oven is performing. I’m intrigued. I bake a bit and would like to fit a turkey in there. Is this little guy getting all the jobs done?

  90. This is so nice. I just love it. If I had a kitchen to design I’d copy everything!

  91. So many good tips! Any idea how much more complicated / expensive it is to do a wall mounted faucet than a normal one? I don’t need to save space I’m just not responsible enough to keep the area around the faucet clean and it drives me nuts….

  92. What brand of paint is the Harbor color? Thanks Love the kitchen!

  93. LOVE THIS POST! Price point, check. Thoughtful and problem solving design, check (I live for creative thought and not giving up with the “sink just wont fit” -many designers would change everything over that or take up more precious space withou thinking outside the box) Good Design? Good Writing? Check, Check. WELCOME VELINDA. We need more content like this. Also this is my dream LA AirBnB, is it for rent? 😉

  94. Velinda! This is beautiful! What an amazing transformation (and great storytelling, too).

  95. Sorry if I missed it in the article or comments… but where did you put the garbage can? I have a beautifully designed smallish kitchen and can’t figure out where to put one. (I only have under the sink and one small cupboard.)

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