The formerly cramped kitchen was redesigned by CARNEMARK to feel open and airy.
The stove is flanked by narrow cubbies that take advantage of every inch of space.
The extra-narrow fridge occupies a niche that once housed a dumbwaiter.
A before shot of the kitchen.
The dining area occupies an eight-foot-wide space in the condo redesign by Jennifer Schmidt.
A shallow sideboard provides space for serving.
The foyer sports a graphic wallpaper that de-emphasizes the doorways and makes the space feel larger.
The niche that Schmidt converted into the dining area.

Small Spaces

Pros transform cramped rooms into convenient, comfortable abodes

When designer Jonas Carnemark and his team were called on to update a tiny kitchen in a DC condominium, they found a 150-square-foot space with precious little storage. It was disconnected from the rest of the apartment and to top it off, contained a dumbwaiter dating back to the building’s early years that wasted valuable real estate. 

This forced Carnemark, principal of CARNEMARK Design Build in Bethesda, to get creative,  “stealing” space however he could. First, building authorities agreed to let him remove the dumbwaiter, which provided room for the designer to configure a functional plan. 

“We separated different functions into different areas,” he explains. “By using specially sized appliances and multiple cabinetry depths, we were able get more logical space for storage.”

He placed the sink and range next to each other and “infilled” around them with small custom cubbies. A broom closet flanks the left side of the window while a sizable pantry on the opposite side provides badly needed food storage. A 24-inch refrigerator, microwave cabinet and small “landing” shelf occupy the wall that once housed the dumbwaiter. 

A new, arched punch-out connects the kitchen to the dining room, “opening up visual flow and the view,” says Carnemark.

On projects with limited space and budgets, he advises clients to “look at the impact of each gesture and then weigh them as a whole. For example, it might make sense to steal some more space and buy a less expensive faucet. The visual flow, for me, is the most important aspect. This kitchen feels like a bigger space whereas before it felt like a hallway.” 

Newlyweds with a tiny two-bedroom condo in DC were thrilled with its hip 14th Street location but wished to maximize their space. They hired Ashburn, Virginia, designer Jennifer Wagner Schmidt of JWS Interiors with the request that she focus on the dining area and foyer—two trouble spots they wanted re-oriented and redesigned for optimal effect.

“The breakfast nook is just eight feet by eight feet, but it’s the only eating area they have,” Schmidt says. “It was important to make it work because they like to entertain.” She chose a banquette from Ballard Designs that fits perfectly within the nook. Clear acrylic chairs surround a dining table from West Elm with a pendant light above; the chairs convey a sense of openness, while a large-scale abstract painting from Joss & Main above the banquette provides a focal point. Schmidt added a cowhide rug “for a modern vibe,” she says.

To the left, a custom sideboard only 22 inches deep from Redford House offers a much-needed surface for serving without occupying a lot of floor space; above it hangs a set of monochromatic prints Schmidt found on Etsy.

In the four-foot-wide foyer, Schmidt opted for drama. “I chose a graphic quatrefoil wallpaper from [online wallpaper retailer] Spoonflower that would make a statement,” she says. “And it erases the lines of the wall, which makes the entry feel more spacious.” A narrow, white-lacquered console by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams is paired with a white-painted faux-bamboo mirror from Horchow. Carpet was replaced with hardwood flooring, and, says Schmidt, pale, neutral walls “help the whole place stay light and bright.”