A Small and Cluttered Kitchen Gets a Functional Makeover

Clever space planning and nifty storage nooks help open up this mom's cramped cooking area. Check out the dramatic before-and-after photos!

It’s no secret that the kitchen takes quite a beating from sunup to sundown, seven days a week. Given the tasks done in the space, it’s ideal to have enough room for storage, prep time, and the actual cooking. How is this possible if you only have approximately 3sqm to work with?

In this family home in Taguig, the owners had to make do with a cramped cooking space that was filled with utensils, pots, pans, and LPG tanks. A wall separated it from the rest of the house, and a slim opening defined by a curtain served as the entrance to the area. Despite its size, homeowner Jufelyn Sulit still holds the kitchen close to her heart. “I prepare our breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. And madalas nagbe-bake ako. Hobby ko ang baking,” she shares.

Though she can still use the kitchen on a daily basis, Jufelyn knew that it can still be improved. “Masikip ang area. Cluttered and walang cabinets. Mahirap hanapin ang mga gamit na kailangan mo. Usually sinasabit nalang namin ang mga gamit,” she explains. With the kitchen being chosen for a Real Living makeover, it seems that better cooking days are ahead for Jufelyn and her family.“Super happy po kasi nagpapagawa palang kami ng second floor so hindi priority ang kitchen. Future plan pa lang to improve the space,” she says.

To turn the cramped and cluttered area into a bright and open space that’s ideal for cooking, RL partnered with Sanitec and interior designer Catherine Cena-Yambao. Aside from providing personalized service and designs to homeowners for almost two decades, Sanitec, Bath & Kitchen Design Specialist, is known for their quality bath fixtures, fittings, accessories, and bath systems. They have also successfully brought in imported brands like VRH, Primy, CATA, CAE, Viglacera, Cotto, and luxury brand Kohler—among many others—to the Philippines.

Cathy immediately noted the size of the kitchen and the elements missing from the space. “It’s so small and cramped. Wala silang space to move around in, yung Gasul [LPG tanks] were out and exposed, there were no doors sa cabinets sa ibaba, and they didn’t have a proper cooking area. Opening up the space will solve a lot of problems,” the designer explains.

To execute her design, a portion of the wall separating the kitchen from the dining area was torn down. This immediately opened up the space, and paved the way for a brighter and more efficient cooking area as the design team was able to create a better layout and incorporate storage options.

Entrance/Bar Counter Area

“What we wanted to do was give them more air when they’re in the kitchen and more storage space where they can keep all their things. I didn’t want to keep the old L-shaped layout kasi namamatay yung corner,” says Cathy of the dead area in the kitchen. Tearing down a portion of the wall opened up the space, making it seem more spacious. The bar counter separates the kitchen from the dining area while still maintaining the airy feel. “We didn’t want to take the entire wall off and the bar area serves as extra prep space. It also doubles as a buffet counter for serving meals,” adds Cathy. The homeowner can also opt to add barstools to make it into a breakfast nook in the future.


The counter is one of the most important elements in the kitchen. It’s where we cook meals, prepare the ingredients, and store some of our cooking essentials. Prior to the makeover, the counter was lower than the standard height. “It used to measure 75cm in height and the standard is 85cm,” Cathy says. Raising the counter was one of the immediate concerns they had to address to make sure the owners can work comfortably and efficiently. Given the counter space they had to cover, the designer opted to use granite tiles on the revamped countertop, a quality alternative that also looks good.

To ensure a proper workflow in the new kitchen, the work centers (refrigerator, sink, and cooktop/oven) that form the kitchen work triangle were rearranged. Given the limited space, the ref was kept in its original position near the dining area. The faucet/sink was moved near the wall to create more space for meal preparation. “The owners get water straight from supply. Walang valve to close it. We had to relocate it kasi dati wall-mounted siya,” the designer explains. To match the bright, new look of the cooking area, a deep Primy kitchen sink which comes with multiuse accessories such as a wooden chopping board insert and a strainer that doubles as a colander was put in place. To make food preparation easier, Cathy also had the Marathon stainless sink mixer faucet with trigger spray from VRH installed, one of her handpicked essentials from the Sanitec showroom.


“Since the space is small, I wanted to keep it light and bright. The cabinets are painted white and for the backsplash, we chose a light-colored material. Ceramic tiles in pastel sky blue, also from Sanitec, serve as a vibrant backsplash and complement the all-white cabinets and stainless steel accessories.


The lack of storage options can instantly cause a clutter takeover in any space. Given the cooking essentials they keep in the kitchen, the owners need storage nooks to keep these in place. Under the countertop are cabinets and drawers while an open shelf spruces up the available vertical space.

RL Tip: To liven up the open shelf, interior designer and stylist Tala Singson mixed in and displayed wooden accents, framed pieces, cute dinnerware, and potted plants along with the homeowners’ dinnerware.

Meanwhile, stainless steel wire organizers from VRH like utensil holders, multipurpose hooks, dish racks, and baskets were also strategically placed on the countertop and inside cabinets to help contain even the smallest of knickknacks, dinnerware, and utensils.

With a more spacious kitchen at her disposal, Jufelyn is beyond excited to make the most of the area. “I want to bake more and maybe even start a small business,” she exclaims. Upon learning of Jufelyn's love for baking and her wish to start a business, Sanitec surprised her with brand-new appliances to complete the space. Starting a business will surely be easier with the right equipment. 

Proper space planning and maximization of the countertop created the needed space for the CATA traditional hood, cooktop, and four-function oven. The hood and cooktop take up one straight vertical space with the oven underneath to maximize the area.

Even with these appliances in place, the kitchen still looks streamlined as the cooktop and oven were built-in to the counter while the range hood was seamlessly installed under the overhead cabinet. It also has a mechanical push button control which makes it easier for Jufelyn to pull out the hood when needed. “We’re happy with the kitchen and sa appliances. During Christmas, I give away baked goods and mahirap mag bake sa maliit na oven. Ngayon, malaki na. Thankful po talaga kami,” says Jufelyn.

Special thanks to our makeover sponsor, Sanitec, Bath & Kitchen Design Specialist. For more details about Sanitec, its brands, and products, visit their website or follow them on Facebook.

Visit Sanitec's showrooms and experience personalized service at these locations:

Main Showroom
G/F-3/F Sanitec Building, #240 E. Rodriguez Sr. Avenue, Bgy. Don Manuel, Quezon City
Tel. (02) 230-4065

MC Home Builders Depot
32nd Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
Tel. (02) 815-6057

CW Home Depot - Ortigas
#1 Dona Julia Vargas Avenue, Bgy. Ugong, Pasig City
Tel. (02) 638-5586

CW Home Depot - Macapagal
G/F CW Home Depot Manila Bay, Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue Extension corner Macapagal Blvd., Pasay City
Tel. (02) 556-2049

Source: https://www.realliving.com.ph/makeovers/kitchen-dining/a-small-and-cluttered-kitchen-gets-a-functional-makeover-a00010-20180705

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