Tiny Kitchen – Pick My Presto

I had fun working on a presto chango for a gal named Beverly this week. She sent me an email asking for some sunny-style design inspiration for her tiny galley kitchen. It’s open to three other rooms in her house, and here’s a couple of the shots she attached to her email for me to work from:

She also asked about how to create a more “open feel”, and mentioned that she only uses the upper cabinets on the right side of the room to store things she doesn’t really need to get to.

I think we all know what needs to happen to those cabinets.

My inspiration pics are all pretty much the same, but I did pop a few different rugs in so that she could see what different patterns, colors and textures looked like down there.

Wanna see? Just move your cursor on and off of the photos below…

(Note: My drawings are for inspirational purposes only, and the ideas suggested here are just that. Spontaneous, flexible, just-for-fun, ideas. And since this is a just-for-fun-photo-consultation, and not an actual-and-perfectly-to-scale-virtual-consultation, I have no idea if any of the furniture, accessories or appliances I used would actually fit in this room. Boom.)

My overall goal was to accentuate the positives, and to give Beverly some ideas for the challenges, in her small, window-less, galley kitchen.

Let’s start with the positives…

Positive: The room has a nice rectangular-shaped ceiling. Accentuate it with: A big ol’ sheet of bead board panelling, or some planks of white (or light blue) painted wood. (Use a nail gun and construction adhesive to attach it to the ceiling, but don’t forget to cut holes for new light fixtures before you put it up! Need step-by-step inspiration? Check out Shelley’s post!)

Positive: Three cabinets above the counter to the right of the fridge. Accentuate them with: Glass-fronted doors. You can buy new ones at Ikea, or follow Susie’s lead and make your own. It’ll help open up the space a little more visually, and since there’s not a lot of wall space to hang frames or accessories on, pretty dishes can act as art instead!

Positive: The wall at the end of the room. Accentuate it with: Something that’ll capture your attention and make a bold design statement! Not into the high contrast of the black chalkboard wall? Make your own custom color chalkboard paint by following these steps instead. Not into the chalkboard wall period? It’s all good. Maybe you’d rather paint it a cheerful color, stencil it like Ronda did, or wallpaper that wall instead of the wall I showed papered in my drawings.  No matter what- just have fun with it!


Here are some of the challenges I was inspired to throw my 2 cents in on…

Challenge: There’s only one place to put a single-doored fridge. Solution: Make it a snappy one! I chose a cool, aqua blue model from Big Chill to add a little whimsy and color to the space.

Challenge: One, off-center, fluorescent light. Solution: Two, schoolhouse-style lights, spread apart by a few feet will wash the entire space with light. Yay! Under cabinet lighting will also help brighten things up, so I’d suggest looking into that option as well. Sarah showed how to do-it-yourself here.

Challenge: Short, upper cabinets. Solution: Paint the drywall that’s covering the soffit above them the same color as the upper cabinets to create the illusion of taller cabinets. Seeing white all the way up to the ceiling will make it feel like the cabinets are a foot taller than they really are!


I used colors like barn red, cool cream, crisp white, dusty aqua, medium brown, sunny yellow and chalky black all around the room for a classic cottage-meets-farmhouse kitchen vibe. (Beverly- if you’re not into these colors, please feel free to choose a variety of colors that makes your heart sing. That’s what’s most important!) I also injected a variety of patterns and colors, to visually give the room more depth and dimension. Right now, all the colors and patterns are very similar. Adding some variety in those areas, will make a galley feel less…well, galley. (You’ve got a great foundation to work from Beverly…now all you have to do is add the spice!)

Here’s an inspiration board I put together that just about sums everything up too:

(Chalkboard Wall, Dash & Albert Rugs, Anthropolgie Dishtowel, Big Chill Refrigerator, Red & White Plaid Wallpaper by Thibaut)

If you weren’t able to view the presto chango in action above, here are the still images…

Beverly’s photo:

My inspiration drawings:

Thank you for the opportunity Beverly! And thank you to everyone who submitted photos so far. I look forward to randomly selecting another one soon!

Wanna submit a photo for our Pick My Presto series?

Send an email to PickMyPresto [at] aol [dot] com titled, “PICK MY PRESTO”. Make sure to include your name, your blog name (if you have one) your design likes & dislikes, and one photo of the space in question. (No links please.) It should be clear, and measure at least 400 pixels high x 600 pixels wide. (In other words: 4″x6″) Make sure it’s a photo you’re comfortable with me showing and writing about on our blog. Then, whenever I’m feelin’ the urge, I’ll randomly select someone’s email and have a little fun creating some traditional or cottage style presto chango inspiration. Oh, and since I love surprises, I probably won’t email you to let you know I’ve “picked your presto” unless I have a specific question for ya about your space.


Join us on Twitter or Facebook!



Need help with your living room layout?

Check out my e-book!

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required


  1. says

    Layla! I about choked on my lunch when I saw my chalkboard wall in your “presto chango” kitchen!!!! I am beyond flattered that you chose to use it!!!! :) Love your ideas for that kitchen. The aqua fridge is to die for. And the bead board ceiling is genius. Looking at my own ceiling as we speak…. hmmmmmm. :)

  2. Annie says

    LOVE it!! I love this series. I need to upload a picture…I would love to see your magic in my home!! :) Good job Layla!

  3. Kari says

    …Be still my beating heart. Oh! How! Cute! Layla, thank you for sharing this!!! I am currently looking to buy a townhome where a lot of the kitchens are little and look like this! I know there is ALWAYS potential…but to see it in your presto was just SO FUN! I heart you and your talent!

  4. says

    Ok, I think I’m in love with that fridge. We have an ugly black one that sucks the light from the room…paired with dark countertops it’s rather gloomy, despite the picture window. All the other ideas are really nice too! Great rug options, and I love the chalkboard wall.

  5. says

    I LOVE it!! Such a great way to brighten up a galley kitchen. Love the glass-door cabinets and the aqua fridge especially. I’m always afraid to commit to color but I love it when used in small punches like this.

  6. Terrie M says

    WOW! You are AWESOME!!!!! What a change and such beautiful details you have incorporated. I need to get my photos to you.
    Are you for hire for a presto change? Let me know.

    • says

      Hey Terrie!

      Thank you for the sweet comment! :-)
      I used to have a virtual consultation business, but it got to be too overwhelming for me, so know I just do them for fun.
      Thank you for asking about it though…I appreciate your interest and look forward to seeing your photo in my inbox over at PickMyPresto [at] aol [dot] com!

  7. Lisa Bittner says

    Hello! LOVE this Presto Chango Activity! I am sure Beverly is so excited about your ideas. i just left you an e-mail for my “Pick My Presto”. You are welcome to Vermont anytime…I live 45 minutes from the Dream Home……:)

    • says

      Hey Nana!

      It takes me about 6-8 hours to work on one photo, so by the time I’m done drawing on one, my right wrist is sayin’ “no way Jose” to any more! :-)

  8. says

    I love it! And I plan on using a lot of those ideas myself. :)

    I have one question: I keep seeing wood counters . . . I love them, and want to use them, but I’m wondering how they hold up, and what the finish of choice is . . .

    Thanks for the great post!

  9. Amber says

    Love it! I have light colored tile in my kitchen and hope to paint my cupboards white. I just cut up about 200 magazines, saving good inspiration pics and recipes, and came across a lot of kitchens with white cupboards and natural wood counters, but I haven’t heard much about natural wood counters in blogs. Can anyone suggest any resources I can use to get more information and ideas about this look? I think it adds a nice richness that can be achieved through wood flooring too, but considering our tile is in good shape, I’d like to keep it.

  10. says

    It looks amazing from DRAB to FAB>>>>>>>>>>> she will be so thrilled – I know I would be. Kathy, Enoggera, Brisbane, Australia

  11. says

    Wow, great consultation!!! I love the idea’s you gave Beverly…now, she’s just gotta get that sledge hammer out!!! :) I love the view through to that industrial table in the family room…very cool. And I love the retro fridge & chalkboard…great way to pretty up a basic kitchen! Fantastic & thanks for sharing these great ideas! xoxo Beth PS Happy Valentines.

  12. says

    Where were you when I owned a home with a galley kitchen?! Hope these gals you are presto-ing are as inspired as the rest of us. It would be great if they send an after pic to you to share.

    Your Friend,

  13. Melinda says

    What a wonderful inspiration for a kitchen! The little touch of red is a nice surprise and I like it. Good job as always… : )

  14. Janet says

    This is just beautiful and so warm feeling. A few years ago I redid my kitchen white with black granite countertops (a la Ina Garten kitchen) and dark wood floor, however I didn’t take into account that my kitchen is tiney with only 1 small window and the black has just sucked the light out of it.
    I found your site from PW Woman and have been pouring over each and every post and loving everything you have done. I am just gonna have to use some of your ideas! Ok can I have a beach cottage in Kentucky?

  15. says

    You are so very talented. Hope you know that, friend. Hope one day you’ll drive down here and give me real-life advice. Bring on the cottage. :-) talk soon
    shaunna :)

  16. tracy australia says

    Layla you are the best….i love all the work you do,and look so forward to reading your post everyday.
    the kitchen is wow wonderful….
    fancy a trip to australia !!!!!! i’ll pay lol…..

  17. Lynne says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! A year ago we bought a 1976 home in the pacific northwest with a galley kitchen. It’s really hard to find redecorating ideas for a galley kitchen. I love the trim around the doorway, the beadboard ceiling … and all the other details.

    We also thought about opening the kitchen up to the family room, but that would also give everyone who comes to our front door a full view into our kitchen. What do you think? (I don’t always keep my kitchen neat)


  18. Heather says

    Looks fabulous! I LOVE these Prestos!
    Where did you find the top left photo in your inspiration collage? Something about that top left photo struck the “that is IT!” chord in me, and I really wish I could see more of the kitchen!!! Seriously, I saw that picture and immediately starting sketching kitchen ideas on a notepad with that as my inspiration. My kitchen window above my sink goes straight up to the cabinet just like in that photo and it can make for an awkward corner that is out of balance with the other side. I love the look and feeling of that picture. Exactly what I am trying to capture. :)

  19. Amy says

    This is absolutely amazing!! I just love your blog more and more all the time! The pick my presto series has got me checking to see if you have a new post….sad I know. Exactly how does your software work. Do you have to ‘draw’ in all of the surfaces? It seems like a really great program.
    I have a few questions about submitting photos….
    1) Can we only submit 1 room at a time
    2) Can we resubmit rooms

    • Layla says

      Hey Amy!

      Thank you! :-)
      And to answer your questions- I use Adobe Photoshop to draw on the photos folks submit.
      1) You can submit as many rooms as you’d like,
      2) You don’t have to re-submit them. Once they’re in the ol’ inbox, they’ll stay there ’til I pick ‘em!


  20. says

    That fridge is to die for, but I can’t believe what a difference the ceiling/lights change have made! We have the same (big, ugly) flourescent light in our kitchen. I would not have thought of putting wood slabs up there with drop lighting. Huge improvement!

  21. Rachel Carey says

    W-O-W ! From drab to charming! Going with the ikea counters and putting up the wood on the ceiling would be very inexpensive. The fridge could be painted to resemble the big chill if a new one isn’t in the budget!

    Really like this kitchen!!!!!

  22. Lynn says

    Beautiful!! I have been wanting to put in butcherblock countertops forever, but we have a corner sink so I don’t know if all those seams would hold up okay :(
    As far as the gorgeous bead board paneling on the ceiling goes- do you recommend only putting it up if you have taller ceilings? My 1960’s home has 8 ft ceilings (really, they are 7′ 10″) and I thought that by drawing the eye up with such detail, it would make the ceiling feel heavy and even shorter. Would this be the case?

    • Layla says

      Hey Lynn!

      If you love the look, I say go for it!
      I don’t think it matters how high or low your ceilings are….it’s about celebrating every sunny square inch of your space! :-)

  23. says

    Love the changes you have developed especially the beadboard ceiling! While my personal tastes tend to be more neutral….love the infusion of color.

    Would love your Presto Opinion of how to deal with my kicthen….

  24. says

    if you’re worried you have a new stalker from your google stats, don’t be scared! i recently found your blog and have been devouring all of your projects and before and afters! i love this idea board, but i’m really, really curious about the top right picture of the countertops in your inspiration – any idea the source?

    husband and i just had an offer accepted on a new house (fingers crossed everything goes through) and we are totally interested in doing face grain wood countertops. a question for you: would you do wood countertops AND wood flooring? what about the color balance? would you try to keep them both light/dark, etc? love your blog! thanks for all the inspiration!

  25. says

    Wow! Love this kitchen and love the bead board on the ceiling! The colors are absolutely lovely and subtle enough to allow the fantastic details like the fridge to stand out. Thanks for sharing . . . loving this Presto Chango series! Very inspiring!

  26. says

    Wow, Layla! That is amazing!! I love each of those changes! The colors are beautiful, and so much fun!
    We just got finished doing a lot of work in our kitchen. I am so happy with all the changes. Knocking out a wall and removing a bunch of the contractor cabinets and installing open shelves helped lighten up the kitchen A LOT. Here is a link if you want to see: http://the7daggetts.blogspot.com/2011/02/kitchen-update.html.
    Beth @ Beach Cottage in the Desert.

  27. ileana says

    Love this so much!! I want that rug in the second picture – may I ask where it came from? Thanks!!

  28. Beth says

    So glad I found your blog…I was in real need of some inspiration and you have surely given it to me!

  29. says

    All I could think as I stared at these incredible ideas, was, “How can I convince Layla to help me with the kitchen in the home we just purchased??” You are amazing…

    And total side note because I brought it up and all… I have so many ideas for my new place, but it’s like 100 years old, with original cabinetry, and seriously, I know my man is not going to want me doing anything much to it. The cabinets have a hundred coats of paint on them, ending in white, and are actually really sweet, but there is about 10 inches of clearance between the counter top and the underside of the cabinetry! I don’t know how it’s all going to come together, but it should be a fun house regardless. If only you lived in the Pacific NW and could go shopping with me!! :)

  30. Jennifer says

    WOW!!!! This is awesome. The color scheme is one of my favorites. You outdid yourself on this one. It’s beautiful!

  31. Sindy says

    Fantastical! As ALWAYS, Layla. Are you absolutely, positively, without a doubt, really, really, really sure that you don’t want to continue your virtual consultations? Sigh. You can see I am wishing you would :) but, if you can’t, these presto chango-s are inspirational awesomeness!

  32. Marna Arlien says

    I have never commented before, but I just had to say I love how your mind works! This is just an amazing transformation. Thank you for sharing this.

  33. says

    OMG! Layla, I must have missed this post. I have wanted to buy one of your virtual consultations for a long time now but I saw that you were not doing them anymore. I’m so excited that you are doing this series! Pick me, pick me. I have so many rooms I need help with. I will send you a picture. Have to figure out which room first. lol Can you submit more than one room?

  34. Beverly says

    Squeal!!!! Omy my gosh – I absolutely LOVE it and I can’t wait to get started! I promise I’ll send updated pics so that everyone can see want I do (of course, $ is tight so it will be a few changes at first). Layla, thank you so much for giving me inspiration and a vision. You are truly blessed with your talents.

    Love ya,

    p.s. should the soffit stay when I take the right side cabinets down?

    • Layla says

      Hey Beverly!
      So glad you like the drawings! :-)
      As for the soffit- I say…”not if it doesn’t have to!”


  35. says

    Jeepers, Layla. . . this is amazing! The ideas, the photos, the inspiration pics, everything! Thank you so much for including the still photos at the end–sometimes it’s hard to make the “magic” work with my cursor, so it was nice to be able to see the still photos.

    I think this is going to be one of the most popular things you’ve ever done! :)

  36. Beverly says

    Hey Layla,

    I read all of these comments and I can’t believe it takes 6 hours to do a presto change! Wow! Now I feel really priviliged and blessed. Thank you again, Layla.

    p.s. Love you last name!!

  37. says

    I am in serious love with that kitchen!! It’s close to what we just did to our own kitchen, but that fridge is beyond sweet! I also love how you gave her a red kitchen aid mixer :)

    I am going to snap a pic of my 25 foot long living room that is only half furnished and then cross my fingers and toes that you will pick mine and fix it for me because I cannot figure out what to do with it!

  38. Rachel Carey says

    Get rid of the soffets! It’s a great area to display wonderful treasures (unless you have a cat like me)!!!!

  39. Mallory says

    I love it! I would love to send you a photo of my studio, it’s the size of a ONE car garage and I don’t have much to work with (considering I am renting and cannot paint or even hang anything with screws on the walls) :/

  40. mindy says

    These are so fun! I love that you are doing this! These presto chango’s are some of my favorite things about your blog!

  41. Gena says

    You rock. I love your website. I love your kitchen design. And, I LOVE your house! I am in the beginning stages of completely redoing my home after the death of my spouse 2 1/2 years ago. I am now ready to just start fresh with things I love. Your blog inspires me.

  42. Kim in MD says

    What a gorgeous transformation! I love your site, and now I am thinking I should submit a photo myself! You are so inspiring!

  43. Mindy says

    Love the presto changes! It is amazing that all three presto changes are the same with only the rug changes, each one brings out a different contrasting color pop in the picture! Homegoods here has had that fridge in its store for the past month, I might caress it every time I am in it **wink wink**. It is to die for with its curves, chrome and beautiful color. Thanks for making me love it even more and showing how it can work in a ktichen without turning the kitchen into a total throwback theme type kitchen! Wish I could incorporate more style like this into our military housing!

  44. Stephanie says

    I have a similar kitchen and would love to do beadboard on my ceiling, but my kitchen is 12.5 feet by 12.5 feet. Which means if I used the boards, I’d have seams everywhere. Any suggestions on how to avoid that?

    • Layla says

      We’re going to use it on the ceilings here at TLC too. We plan to cover the seams with long, thin strips of wood.

  45. Christina says

    Say you had white cabinets like this post and a floor that looked just like this kitchen’s too, but laminate countertops in a dark bluish/blackish and cream walls (cottage white by behr to be exact). And say you had oh-i-dunno a sliding glass door that needed a window treatment of some sort and a double window on the adjacent wall that would need them too. A white pedestal table and some Pottery barn red iron outdoor chairs. Would you:
    ~Paint the white PB table turquoise or leave white?
    ~Window treatments- plain creamy neutrals or fun print? How to dress that double window? Cafe curtains or long drapes? I love a retro feel but don’t want to be SUPER over the top. I love the balance you created in this presto.
    In any case, I LOVE LOVE LOVE what you did here and pretty much everything on your blog. You and your husband are such a talented team!

  46. Sunny says

    Gotta say, I positively covet (I know, bad to do) the AQUA and pop of red in the kitchen! So I will just say I am enamored of your presto-change-OH Layla.

  47. says

    that is a pretty amazing outcome. I love the way computer imaging can be used to visualize the results. AND really like the new colors.

  48. becca h says


    You are so talented and have such an incredible eye for putting together such great designs!!! I love this feature of your blog and would love to try to do this myself with several of the rooms in my home. I have a basic working knowledge of Photoshop Elements and was wondering if you would consider posting a brief tutorial on how to “presto” your own home using Photoshop!?!? I haven’t done anything like this before and have been trying to google a tutorial to figure it out myself, but have been unsuccessful. Just wanted to see if this was something you might consider someday :) Thanks again!!!

  49. Sam says

    THANK YOU! The places I am looking to buy all seem to have kitchens like the before. (Older condos in my price range)

    I never would have thought of the things you came up with but you give me hope that I won’t have to live with an ugly kitchen unless I take out a 2nd mortgage.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>