Aha! Design: An Ingenious Semi-Open Kitchen

While we like the idea of open-floor plans, a trend that now feels like the norm, we also value layouts that respect the division of labor that happens in homes. Julie’s Mill Valley kitchen gets to have it both ways. The kitchen is open to the dining area, but a chest-high shelf, integrated into the counter behind it, divides the two spaces and offers a semblance of privacy when she’s in the kitchen. At the very least, guests seated at the dining table can’t see any of the behind-the-scenes cooking detritus.

Photography by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.

The View from the Dining Area

Julie Carlson Mill Valley Home Shelving
Above: Julie’s architect, Jerome Buttrick, separated kitchen from dining room with a maple plywood shelf. This keeps what’s happening in the kitchen hidden from guests but allows for a free flow of conversation between people in the two rooms. (For more of Jerome’s ideas, see Expert Advice: An Architect’s 15 Essential Tips for Designing the Kitchen.)

The View from the Kitchen

Julie Carlson Kitchen Mill Valley
Above: Julie’s compact and hardworking U-shaped kitchen. The plywood shelf peeking out on the left side is part of the storage unit in the dining room. (For more on U-shaped kitchens, see Remodeling 101: The U-Shaped Kitchen.)
Julie Carlson Mill Valley Kitchen by Matthew Williams
Above: “I especially love the niche for the paper towels and the shelves for cups and drinking glasses,” says Julie of the custom built-ins behind the sink.

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