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There is such a thing as the best seat in the house. And for Josh Piddock, founder of Studio Merlin, and his girlfriend, Margot, that spot is in the couple’s 130-square-foot galley kitchen, right below the shelves of dry goods and above the drawer where they stash their cat Allen’s food. “One of us uses the seat every day,” says Josh. “It’s a great space to have a coffee and read a book, sit and watch the projector in the living room, or boringly check emails.” The brilliance of the 2-by-2-foot seat is that it doesn’t soak up any extra floor space: It’s built into the lower cabinetry. 

The couple opted for Reform’s Basis cabinets in a smoky blue color, taking the cupboards all the way to the ceiling on one side of the room, freeing up the opposite side for an airy, open feeling. They were thoughtful about the depth of the cabinets in order to leave a large enough clearing space—it’s 13 feet long and 5 feet wide—to practice yoga, play fetch with Allen, or host a party without bumping into guests. “It was important for us to be able to use the kitchen for things other than just cooking,” says Josh, pointing out that the entire place is only 860 square feet. “This space [has to be] the center of life in the apartment, not just a kitchen.”

Going with a large, roll-down projector screen over a traditional TV in the adjacent living room means a big black box is no longer the focal point of the space. It also means that there is plenty of visibility from the kitchen. “1916 was the first thing we watched on it, and it was amazing,” says Josh.

Not only do the wide walkway and the bench nook make the kitchen more livable around the clock, but the long stretch of countertop has proved handy for Margot’s crafting hobbies. She recently made 12 iridescent bucket hats in the kitchen, situating her sewing machine at one end of the surface and creating a conveyor belt of bucket hats leading toward the cooktop. “Occasionally we have friends over for cocktail making, we do jigsaw puzzles, and Josh is still really into Legos,” says Margot. This clever layout is food for thought.