Whether you have a gaggle of teens, or need extra prep space during the holidays, why not consider building a small space kitchenette?
When our college aged sons took over the basement living areas, we converted an old 6 x 6 storage room into a tiny utility kitchenette for their use. Cabinets and counters came from a local home improvement store, and an existing bathroom sink was modified for dish washing use. The end result was a sharp looking kitchenette that does double duty as a work area.
How to begin
You begin this project by measuring the area, including doorways and ceiling height. Take these dimensions to a home improvement store, and pick up a spec sheet on the prefabricated cabinet style that seems to work best with the space. For a tiny room, stick to cabinets with light colored stains.
Also check out the prefabricated counter tops while there. The cheapest solution is one in a standardized length with a molded back splash. Find one that works well with the cabinets you have chosen.
With these dimensions, you can begin planning the kitchenette. Since you are not designing a full use kitchen, laying out your floor space will be quite simple. Do plan for an under the counter refrigerator unit and an area where a chair can fit for a breakfast bar. Think about where electrical outlets and ceiling fixture will have to go.
There are many types of cabinets; choose the style that fits best for your needs. At the very least, you’ll need a large cabinet storage for small appliances and casserole dishes, a set of drawers, and overhead cabinets for dishes and food.
Before the installation, arrange to have an electrician wire in your outlets. Once those are in place, you can begin installing the cabinetry and counters.
There are all sorts of publications out there with step by step instructions for installing kitchen counters and cabinetry, which can go into much more detail than I can here. Two excellent resources are: http://hometips.com/articles/cabinstall.html and http://www.hammerzone.com/archives/kitchen/countr/install2.html
Once the cabinets and counter top are installed, it’s time to get creative! For the walls, choose a light color to make the room seem larger, and a contrast color to add interest. If your basement has painted concrete floors, leave the existing paint alone or add some splatters of your own.
For the ceiling fixture, a low profile adjustable lighting system is an excellent solution. For a little extra cabinet storage, check out the junk yards for an old kitchen cabinet unit that can be painted up and put into service (picture #2).
If your basement bathroom has an existing sink, think about replacing the existing basin with a deeper bar sink. The existing counter will have to be raised about 6 inches to accommodate the new sink. As long as you are having to replace the counter anyway, install a drop down counter top for a place to stash those dishes while they are drying (picture #3).
Under counter refrigerators can range from $100 to $300, depending on interior cubic dimensions. The 2-4 cubic foot size can’t hold much more than some soda pop, a half gallon of milk, and some leftovers. The 6 cubic size is large enough to hold a Thanksgiving turkey, and the fixings for a holiday meal.
The total cost of our kitchenette, including the electrical work, the 6 cubic foot refrigerator, and the custom installation of the bathroom sink & counter unit cost less than $1200. While the boys are still living at home, this kitchenette is perfect solution for their mealtime preparation. Once they’ve graduated from college and moved out on their own, it will become a practical work area for me.