Hooked on Nooks: Our Designers are Adept at Reimagining Awkward Spaces

Awkward alcoves: every home seems to have them, especially the historic homes that are so prevalent in our area, and they often end up as dead space or a dumping ground for the detritus of daily life. But where others may see random bits of square footage with little or no value, our designers see potential!

In the Kitchen

With the kitchen often the centerpiece of family life, it comes as no surprise that it is here where every inch of space is considered valuable.

In this kitchen, in a historic home on Hingham’s famed Main Street, Design Director Judy Whalen transformed what had been a dark, cold space into a kitchen fit for a chef. The floorplan of the original kitchen included an alcove that the homeowners had arranged with a dining table and chairs. It was also hung with heavy drapes robbing the much-needed kitchen of natural light.

With a built-in window seat flanked by twin cabinets, Judy’s design fully maximized the space. The window seat includes roomy drawers to store holiday serving pieces. And with the drapes replaced with crisp, clean plantation shutters, sunlight floods the room.

space saving kitchen ideas

At this historic house, Design Manager Julie Lyons conceived a plan that would create a cohesive feel within an open floorplan that included the kitchen, an intimate seating area in front of a fireplace and a small space tucked off to one side. Using a cabinet style that complements, rather than duplicates, those in the main portion of the kitchen, which visually creates a sense of separate rooms, she devoted the alcove to added storage and a home bar, perfect for the homeowners who love to entertain. The period appropriate detailing in Julie’s designs is absolutely stunning, so much so that she recently won a national award from Wood-Mode, the cabinet maker that helped bring her plans to life.

kitchen design ideas for historic homes

Marvelous Mini Mudrooms

The first thing virtually everyone does when they arrive home at the end of the day is dump their “stuff” just inside the door. But if there is nowhere for coats and hats, boots and shoes, and backpacks and sporting equipment to be stashed, it is certain to end up underfoot in a messy jumble.

While a large mudroom may be every homeowner’s dream, it isn’t always a reality. But with a thoughtful design and specialized cabinetry, even just a few feet of space can work.

In both of these homes our designers used floor-to-ceiling cabinetry, with open shelving and bench seating, to add all of the crucial elements of a mudroom in an odd alcove or unwieldy corner, eliminating the doorway dumping ground without an actual mudroom.

small mudroom ideas

Vanity Case

There’s something so Old-World glam about vanities, isn’t there? Typically fairly small in size, a built-in vanity also happens to be a great way to utilize an alcove.

In the left-hand photo below, the vanity itself is fairly typical in size, but by incorporating it in a single floor-to-ceiling cabinetry unity that spans the entire length of a shallow alcove, our designer added a significant amount of storage and an oversized mirror. Tucked into a corner with windows on either side, the petite vanity on the right provides the woman of the house with a serene spot to apply makeup each morning. Drawers on either side keep cosmetics out of sight.

bathrooms with vanities

Showcasing Precious Pieces; Added Storage

While it makes sense to keep everyday dishware close at hand in the kitchen, formal china, especially pricier pieces, are best kept away from hectic daily life.

In both of these homes, our designers utilized an alcove just outside the kitchen for a built-in china cabinet. Perfectly situated between the kitchen and dining room, both include cabinets with glass doors above for displaying beautiful pieces, drawers for silver and serving utensils, and cabinets below for storing…well…anything!

built-in hutches

Final Thought

As far as our designers are concerned, where there’s an alcove, there’s a way.

When Design Manager Julie Lyons remodeled her own home, she packed a petite corner with functionality (shown on left) with a built-in piece that includes cabinets with glass doors for display, open shelves for cookbooks, a countertop coffee station, and storage below.

In the photo on the right, a built-in desk affixed below the window in a butler’s pantry proves the perfect place for a home office. Minimal space turned into a quiet place to work; perfect!

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