Can you really squeeze a family of four and their Aspen accoutrement into an 1,100-square-foot condominium renovation? No problem, says architect Scott Lindenau. Well, the masonry block construction, low ceilings, and paucity of windows were a conundrum, but you wouldn't know it by the result—especially the clever kitchen-in-a-mahogany-box solution.

“The clients directed us to have fun and make it contemporary,” says Lindenau. So he had the interiors stripped and coated the underlying masonry block with pale cream plaster. He speced rich, contrasting mahogany cabinetry, but he trimmed it with maple accents for a warm transition to the walls. A glass tile backsplash introduces random splashes of color, and soapstone countertops and bamboo flooring complete the diverse palette.

Instead of using interior walls to define functions, Lindenau preserved the flow of natural light by dropping the ceiling over the kitchen and built-in dinette. Dark wood panels distinguish these diminutive spaces but also hide plumbing and wiring, liberating precious inches from mechanical needs. To manage clutter, the architect rummaged through his entire bag of “storage tricks” for “pieces that pop up, swivel out, or tuck in.”

He opened another book of spells to lighten the solidity of all those built-ins. For instance, a light and aerial suspension system supports the upper cabinets. And its steel rods also tether an open shelf. Base cabinets hover above the fray too; they're attached to the wall and raised slightly from the floor. And an inset reveal underlines the countertop. It's all delicately balanced and nicely done—an impressively small wonder.

architect: Scott Lindenau, Studio B Architects, Aspen, Colo.
project manager: Elish Warlop, Studio B Architects
general contractor: Tom Van Allen, Aspen
resources: cooktop: Gaggenau; refrigerator: Sub-Zero; tile: Ann Sacks