A Home is where the Heart is… and if there is a significant relationship between love and food… then most would agree – The Kitchen is the Most Important Room in the house (next to the master bedroom suite – ie, see next month’s blog). In fact, most real estate experts will agree – the kitchen is the main selling feature in most homes. So how does one take advantage of what could be the heart and soul of your home?
Even as little as 20 years ago, kitchens served a far different purpose than the kitchens of today’s family. Most kitchens were built in the back of the home, or walled up to keep guests out of the sight of the food preparation. As such, buying an older home reveals this trend of yesteryear and can be slightly overwhelming to a newbie renovator.
For instance, one of my first home purchases was a 1950’s mid-century modern – built around form and function rather than warm, cozy gatherings. The kitchen was walled in from the hallway and the dining room, leaving only a walkway and closed in access. The owner prior to me thought enough to cut a small window from the kitchen to the dining area… but this really only created a ‘drive-through’ window (which is what I will refer to this wall as from henceforth) for guests – merely grasping at glimpses of the gourmet meals to be created – and did not give the open concept kitchen most families’ desire.
These days, kitchens are where families gather together – for some it is where the conversations start over food preparation, and for others it is where interactions and lessons occur that regulate the heartbeat of the family. It is where we get together to have more than just a meal. It is a vital part of the home that affects the physical and emotional health of all family members. The kitchen is more than just function – it is food, family and fellowship. As such, the design of one’s kitchen is the heartbeat of a home renovation.
After much researching ‘modern design’ and ‘kitchen layouts’ on web sites like HOUZZ and Pinterest, I settled on using a combination of contemporary and classic. Remember – designed with function, the ‘drive through window wall’ was a load bearing wall and so completely removing it would have cost a fortune and could have impacted the structural integrity of the home. However, I wanted an open concept kitchen that created an eat-in breakfast bar, child play space/office space and dining room.
With a piece of scratch paper and a sledge hammer, I drew out a rough design and began gently knocking out drywall until the load-bearing stud was located on the ‘drive through window wall’. I realized that the electric slide-in range/stove and the micro-hood (which is the microwave with functioning range hood) and the kitchen sink needed to both be relocated/swapped in position for my new kitchen design to work.
This required a plumber… fortunately moving the water line and gas lines was very easy for him as the locations were not too far from their original locations. As mentioned before, I took out the sledgehammer to give the kitchen a more open feel, and as you can see, created a wider ‘drive through window’ which I used to create a functional breakfast bar. I had the electrician add two pendant lights above the bar for more light. I chose a sleek stainless and glass light that used an ‘Edison’ light bulb for an industrial feel.
Once the lines were moved and the breakfast bar area created, the area was measured for the new cabinets and granite and backsplash tile. I opted for a more contemporary feel with a cozy twist, so I chose warm honey color cabinets that would complement the glass and stainless steel tile backsplash.
The goal was to have as much storage in the kitchen as possible, so rather than regular cabinets throughout, I utilized a lot of deep drawers and even had two lazy suzans (in the corner cabinets).
The granite chosen was named Ornamental Galileo, a level 2, and very pretty – capturing the warm brown in the cabinets and offset with a slight grey to bring out the stainless steel appliances. The sink chosen a deep double vessel Kohler stainless-steel sink and the Luxart faucet created a sleek and sharp finish to the new kitchen.
The original windows remained in the kitchen flooding the area with natural sunlight (I hardly ever turned on my lights); however, pendant lights and the added recessed cans completed the kitchen and provided warm light during the evening.
I thoroughly enjoyed the renovation of this kitchen – it was simple and easy and came together beautifully. The only issue we ran into was that the cast iron water pipe in the floor had to remain (due to the slab foundation) and the pipe needed to be capped, which left about a 3-inch pipe enclosure coming out of the floor smack dab where the new slide-in gas cooktop/stove was to go. SO I had to get creative and literally lay on the floor at the appliance store to measure the back openings on all available slide-ins ranges to find the perfect fit. Aside from looking like a lunatic – I found the perfect fit!
As I stand back to admire my handiwork – I realize I couldn’t have planned a more efficient, functional space than what was done… the spacious kitchen, the breakfast bar opening to an office/kid area and replacing the unusable hall space with a new dining room space – it all flowed.
When I looked at the finished product then - I LOVED it… it looked rustic and modern, and soft and masculine – it was the perfect combination – and it made for the perfect heartbeat to the home.
Keep in mind that the entire project cost me less than $10,000, and most of that was spent on the cabinets ($5000) and the stainless steel appliances ($2500 – refrigerator, dishwasher, range & micro-hood). The backsplash tile I picked up at Lowes on special and the entire area cost less than the kitchen sink & faucet combined.
When I look at it now, I still love the look of this room, especially knowing that it was my first kitchen remodel and it was amazing! And, the best part is that it is kid-friendly, durable, and beautiful!
Don’t be overwhelmed by an older kitchen… All you need is a little faith and, of course, some imagination and you too can create a rustic-modern masterpiece!