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There’s a reason most people aren’t drawn to galley kitchens. The small, narrow spaces often feel cramped and dark, making for a less-than-ideal spot to prepare meals, let alone entertain. 

The kitchen in this Philadelphia condo was the prime example of a galley layout gone wrong. Though the rest of the building featured unique architectural details, the kitchen itself was “a product of a sad early 2000s renovation,” says Rachelle Lazzaro of OAK Design Project

But, there was much potential to tap into those unique architectural elements so prevalent in the rest of the unit. Their client, a woman in her late 30s, wasn’t afraid to go for a sleek, clean look with a touch of glam, thanks to a kiss of color and some bold patterns. 

It’s a style that typically comes with a hefty price tag, but since the budget wasn’t big enough for entirely custom elements, the designers had to get creative to achieve it.

“We came up with this concept to add custom detail to Semihandmade’s DIY slab fronts to create the illusion of a custom kitchen that felt tailored to the space,” Lazarro says. Oak Design Project designer Kevin Bennert had a really strong idea in his head, she explains. And after sketching it up, they looped in their millworker to have him create some test pieces. 

Once the design was to their liking—a series of rectangles made with half-round molding—their millworker finished the cabinets and painted them in Farrow & Ball’s All White. For the finishing touch, Lazarro selected lucite and brass pulls off Etsy.

And while the cabinets are surely a standout, there are other alluring details—like the pink-and-peach chevron tile floor—that helps brighten up the space and adds an element of sophistication.

“When you’re presented with a small galley kitchen, there’s only so much you can do and move around, so we really wanted to stick with the same footprint as far as mechanicals,” she says. “By utilizing panel-ready appliances, it creates a longer illusion to the galley size.” 

They also opened up the window-way to create a more functional bar overhang, plus added a connecting bar and media cabinet combo. “It added a lot of usable space to an otherwise small cabinet,” she adds. “The result is a bright, fun space that’s…neutral and not too in-your-face, but there’s a definite element of pizazz for an otherwise basic kitchen.”

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