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See how this small kitchen is transformed with the help of a ladder

This compact kitchen was able to get more cabinet space all thanks to ladder. Find out how they did it.
/ Source: Houzz

After budget and space considerations meant keeping the compact footprint of this row-house kitchen, interior designer Justene Spaulding set her sights skyward in search of more storage. Seeing that the 14-foot ceiling offered plenty of space, she turned her attention to the sea to gain inspiration for extensive storage accessed by a ladder and rail system. “You have to build like on a ship,” she says.


Photos by Deb McCarthy Photography.

Kitchen at a Glance

Who lives here: A couple and their three children

Location: South Boston, Massachusetts

Size: Kitchen: 56-square-feet (5.2 square meters); dining room: 120-square-feet (11.1 square meters)

Year remodeled: 2015

Interior designer: Justene Spaulding of JS Interiors

A library ladder and railing system is by far the star of the show here, allowing access to a new bank of cabinets 14 feet off the ground. The ladder style also nods to the fact that one of the homeowners is a firefighter.

Library ladder: CSH


“The ladder is easy to move and not that heavy,” Spaulding says. When in use, the ladder can be angled slightly outward into the kitchen to clear the 24-inch-deep lower cabinets and to make it easier to climb.

Appliances: Jenn-Air; faucet: Yosemite Home Decor


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Spaulding saved money by keeping the appliances and plumbing in their existing locations but opened up the room up by removing a wall between the kitchen and dining room and creating a peninsula. She also removed part of the wall separating the living room and kitchen to gain additional sight lines into the rest of the home. The peninsula now provides casual seating for three, handy for snacks and homework.


White semi-custom cabinets visually expand the space. In keeping with the historic look, Spaulding chose brass fittings. She also added toe-kick drawers under the lower cabinets, providing an additional 4 to 6 inches of storage. There’s enough room between the top of the refrigerator and upper cabinets for the homeowner to store a small bowl of fruits and vegetables.

Quartz countertops finish off the work areas while a combination of recessed lighting, ceiling pendants and natural light brightens the entire room.

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Cabinets: Schrock Cabinetry; hardware: West Elm; countertops: MSI; pendants: West Elm


Spaulding kept as many architectural details as possible and replicated others, such as the plaster molding, that she wasn’t able to save. Light oak flooring ties the kitchen and dining room together.

The fireplace was previously closed off and non-working. “We looked into converting it back, but it was too expensive,” Spaulding says. Instead, she had a faux finish added to the interior and notes that the marble mantel is an ideal serving spot during parties.

Shades: West Elm; light fixture: West Elm


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Art: Wendover Art Group

Tucked between the fireplace and the dining room windows sits a small dry bar that adds extra storage and display space.