5 Stunning Spaces + Saving Kitchens – #2 From Cramped Galley to Spacious Gourmet


Written By: Robyn Roehm Cannon

These days, kitchens serve many purposes in family life that far exceed our need to cook dinner. In fact, they are frequently the most-used rooms in houses for relaxing, entertaining, and focusing on family and friends. But especially in older homes, kitchens are often cramped and poorly laid out for how we’d really like to use them.

Although Bruce Donnally is well known for large commercial projects like symphony halls and art galleries, Donnally’s real love is helping residential clients realize the spatial opportunities that exist within their homes by creating design solutions to improve the flow of the rooms.

Such was the case with one retired professional couple, owners of a 1940s-era home magnificently situated on a cliff overlooking Puget Sound. Both love to cook but felt trapped in a small galley-style kitchen in the back of the house, with no view of the water or connection to the dining and family room where they spend most of their time.

Before beginning the design process, Donnally engages his clients in dialogue first, making special note of their preferences and priorities.

By removing some interior walls, Donnally was able to reconfigure this client’s kitchen, dining, and family areas into an open and connected area that centers on the unobstructed view of the west. Today, the space is colorful and vibrant, thanks to the architect’s understanding of how to maximize natural light.

Donnally also worked with pendants and other low-volt-age sources to bounce light in the room.

Cabinets made of honey-colored English sycamore with lively fiddleback figuring, soft honed soapstone counters, and cork floors give the room a relaxed and quietly elegant look and feel.

Corner cabinets with hidden wire bins and a step stool that recesses into the toe kick of the base cabinet are features that maximize space and provide easy access to dishes and the pantry. Donnally laid out casework and appliances to accomodate his clients’ daily habits of food preparation, cooking, serving, and after-meal cleanup, so there’s no wasted foot traffic in the kitchen – just streamlined efficiency from station to station.

The back wall of the couple’s once dark and narrow galley kitchen invites the outdoors in. A glass wall of French doors opens to an ivy-covered courtyard set with a small trickling fountain, which serves as a cool green backdrop to the center island and the warmer tones within.