The challenge: Cino Adelson’s kitchen was right-sized but its layout was all wrong. The floor plan was split into zones that included a cramped eating space and a narrow sink area, with the refrigerator and stove all the way across the room. “It was big enough but it wasn’t efficient,” she said, “and incredibly outdated.”

She also wanted to tackle the home’s back entry off the kitchen, which had too many doorways and minimal storage.

Adelson’s 1940s traditional brick home in St. Paul boasted handsome woodwork and period character. She wanted an updated kitchen, equipped with the latest amenities, that still felt like it belonged in an older house. “This beautiful house deserved a better kitchen from this century,” she said.


The design team: architect Rosemary McMonigal, McMonigal Architects, Mpls., 612-331-1244, The contractor was Braden Construction of Houlton, Wis.


The solution: McMonigal removed a curved peninsula that jutted out from the wall, and also eliminated the cramped corner eating area. This opened up the kitchen and made room for a good-sized island for casual meals. The revised layout also created an efficient work triangle with repositioned new appliances, as well as updated countertops, cabinets and flooring.

“By maximizing the existing space, we almost doubled the amount of kitchen cabinets and counters,” said McMonigal.


Island time: The multicolored flecked island top provides space for food prep, as well as an eating and gathering area — thanks to an overhang for chairs to slide under.

McMonigal positioned the island in the center of the kitchen to create a work zone on one side and a pathway from the back entry and dining room into the kitchen.

Window savings: To stay within her budget, Adelson requested that new energy-efficient divided-light windows be installed in the existing two openings to eliminate costly brick changes on the home’s exterior.


Smart door with character: McMonigal replaced a swinging door with a space-saving beveled-glass sliding pocket door between the kitchen and dining room, which draws in light.


Energizing orange: Adelson chose pumpkin orange paint for the wall that holds artwork, above the windows and the back entry. The confetti glass pendants repeat the shade of orange “I like the way it made me feel,” she said, “warm but bold.”


Kitty niche: People were always kicking over the water bowls of Adelson’s two cats, Izzy and Ella. So McMonigal measured the height of the cats and raised a section of a cabinet to tuck under their food and water bowls. “It’s out of the way and works great,” said Adelson.


Collectible gallery: Adelson arranges her cobalt blue Depression glass and other collections in the lighted glass-front upper cabinets.

Back entry improvements: McMonigal tore out a wall to widen the doorway between the back entry and into the kitchen. This gained some square footage to build a floor-to-ceiling cabinet inside the back entry to hang coats and for drop-zone storage.


Keeping in character: Cabinetry, millwork and backsplash tile honor the period design details in the rest of the home. Oil-rubbed bronze hardware matches other hardware. The stained and glazed-finish cabinets have a rose undertone with a touch of gray. The durable linoleum floor is a natural product and complements the cabinet finish and mosaic tile backsplash, which is a mix of copper, ceramic and glass. “The metallic tiles reflect the light in a warm way,” said Adelson.


The result: Without adding any square footage, McMonigal designed a modernized kitchen with room for multiple cooks, doubling the counter space and adding a multiuse center island.


Best part: Adelson is enamored of her new orange cooking and eating space. “I tell my friends I’m going to sell the rest of the house and just live in the kitchen,” she said.