Before & After: A DM Kitchen Remodel

Mornin’ friends!  I have another Design Manifest kitchen before and after project to share with you today.  This kitchen project could also be called the tale of the big, bad bearing wall.  The original kitchen was divided into two spaces; the front kitchen had narrow storage, a kitchen table and wall oven, while the back kitchen had the refrigerator, sink and cooktop.  Standing in between the spaces?  A very thick bearing wall. 



All of the activity was crowded into back section of the kitchen.  There wasn’t enough prep space or storage.  Meanwhile, the front part of the kitchen was dark, sad, and underused.  The table was too big for the room and made a small space feel even smaller.




We brought in our architect, Gary Bogossian, and determined that we could remove the big, bad wall and replace it with a support beam.  Suddenly a world of possibilities opened up in this kitchen.  The floor plan took a little finessing to create an open concept that worked well for the family. 


We moved lots of walls and built new stairs down into the family room.  The old family room was never used and felt very separate from the kitchen.  In the new plan, it’s all one open space, and now houses the family’s kitchen table.



Now with the walls gone, the kitchen is so much brighter and happier.  My client never believed she had enough room for her dream island, but we made it happen.  The new kitchen, is functional, updated, and truly a great gathering space.





One detail that I like is that we ran crown moulding around the whole kitchen to create a finished look.  The front section has a standard ceiling (8’) and the back section has a vaulted ceiling, but the crown makes it all feel cohesive.  We also did subway tile all the way up the wall for a clean, crisp look.  This area feels so much brighter now!




The X-frame ends to the island are another favorite element for me.  Just a simple detail we added on that takes the island from run of the mill to custom.


I really enjoyed working with these clients on all aspects of the kitchen design, but my favorite part was creating the new space plan.  I’m really glad my clients’ “went for it” and decided to invest in taking out the bearing wall.  I think a lot of people are afraid to tackle such projects because they think they are prohibitively expensive.   That’s not always the case and often times the transformation is worth the cost.

I often suggest people look at their kitchens as an investment.  What will the dollar cost translate into value for your home and value for your life?  Taking the wall out was a cost item for sure, but the new kitchen they got in return improves their lives SO much more plus has made their home MUCH more attractive for resale.

I love projects with difficult challenges like this kitchen!  Do you have a project that my father and I could transform?

5 Great Kitchen Designs

I’m back!  I feel rested and relaxed after my California vacay.  Well I did for about 30 minutes and now I feel buried until the typical pile of work that awaits you after a break.  I’m presently working on a kitchen design of a historic home, which means I have kitchens on the brain.  This issue of TradHome was just full of great ideas for kitchens.  Here are my top 5 and why…

I gasped when I saw this kitchen by Tamara Kaye-Honey.  The blue-gray cabinets are moody and chic against the subway tile.  Most of all though, I like the layout.  Two islands make for the perfect space to prep, clean up, snack and provide division between the kitchen and the living room.  I love how the living room side of the island is styled with lamps, books and pretties.  Just another way to add homey personality to your kitchen.

Other than the rustic beams, my favorite part of this kitchen by Melanie Turner is the furniture-style eating island.  It’s a neat concept to differentiate your eating section of the island from the working section.  I like how this is all the same height (I hate two-height islands!) and that the eating island matches the wall color in adjoining family room.

Admittedly, my favorite part of Grant K Gibson’s kitchen is the yellow tolix stools and blue pottery.  Proving there are several easy, non-permanent ways to style up an all-white kitchen.  Then again, the copper hood isn’t too shabby either.  I like that he mixed copper with stainless and nickel pendants.  Would you mix metals?

A lot of my client’s get caught up with the idea of a sink under the window, but I also love the layout in this kitchen designed by Allison Hennesey.  The hood is the focal point here; flanked by two windows and offset by glass subway tiles.  The sink is centered in the large island and most likely is a good perch to keep tabs on the rest of the open floor plan.

This custom driftwood countertop, designed by Tammy Connor is simply divine.  I love when the materials on a kitchen island are different or unexpected.  It helps add a layer of dimension, particularly in a white kitchen.

All images via TradHome


Want more kitchen posts?  Find them Here!

A Kitchen Before and After

This here is a story of a sad, small, dated kitchen.  The owners, aching for a fresh, practical update, called upon my father and me to transform the space.  They wanted it to be warmer, brighter and more functional.


Originally the kitchen was a U-shape with only one exit and entrance.  It felt disconnected from the rest of the house.  There was also an eat-in peninsula that jutted out into the kitchen, crowding the entrance and interrupting the work flow.


In smaller kitchen renovations we often ask our clients about their lifestyles to help us best space plan.  Do they formally entertain, or can we “borrow” from the dining room to enhance the overall space?  In this family’s case, an open floor plan was a priority over having a separate, formal dining room.  We removed the wall between the kitchen and dining space and really opened things up.  

This reoriented the kitchen- allowing space for an island and easy traffic flow.  We also adjusted the opening into the family room, allowing for a longer wall for the range and hood.  The new opening also lined up with the entrance from the front living room.  Now when you walk into the home you can see all the way back to the sun-filled family room, making the whole house feel brighter and larger.





One thing we do during the planning process for our “spatially challenged” clients is provide them with renderings of the proposed design.  Here was the imagined view looking at the window wall.  (PS- there is nothing wrong with being spatially challenged!  wink wink)




And here is the real deal.  The original dining wall would have cut through the island right about where the pendant light is.


In the new plan there is space for a pantry (to the right of the frig) and a dedicated small appliance area.  The island serves as storage space, prep space and a convenient eating area.  The microwave is also tucked on the other side of the island- convenient to the frig and eating area and out of the way of the main cook.



The clients wanted a warm, California-feel so we opted for honey-hued maple cabinets.  To keep the space from feeling to woody and boxy, we mixed in glass doors and open shelves in the corner.  The stainless farm sink felt a little modern and a little traditional- just like my clients!


With the microwave placed elsewhere, we have room for a dedicated hood.  We chose a linear slate mosaic tile to go above the hood.  It’s a chic focal point when you enter the area.


We did a clean, neutral quartz counter on the perimeter of the kitchen and a vivacious granite on the islands.  When my clients want a granite counter, I often suggest we do the perimeters in a neutral material and allow the granite to pop on the island.  A little goes a long way and it helps the whole kitchen from feeling too busy.


Of course my favorite part are the “accessories” like the barstools and pendant lights.  The are a great way to add texture and personality into a kitchen!



Wednesday in the Kitchen: The double Island

If space allows, the double island is the most efficient layout for a kitchen.  It allows for work and traffic flow to be separated.  Each area can have its own zone: prep, clean up, snack and seating/conversation.  Everything in its place and room for work and play.  Sounds pretty perfect, right?

(a design by us)
(Skye Kirby/Elle Decor)
(Karen Williams/St Charles of New York)
(Nate Berkus/Elle Decor)
(Urban Grace Interiors/TradHome)
I also happen to like the visual line they create.  Perfectly punctuated by a big hood, or sink with large window at the end.  Though the curvy island (#3) is pretty neat too!
Thanks for all your well wishes on the auction!  It was amazing and I am now addicted.  I picked up quite a few things.  I’ll try to share later in the day tomorrow :)

Try a Kitchen Table Instead of an Island



Cherner Chairs add a modern twist to this Traditional Kitchen. Image via xJavierx flickr page



White chippendale chairs and an upholstered arm chair add a casual elegance to this kitchen. Image via Decorpad.



I love how Kim from Desire to Inspire paired Asian-Styled cabinets with a table with mis-matched mid-century chairs!



These green chairs make me so happy! What a fun way to add color into this otherwise white space.

image via Desire to Inspire




Two chuncky pedestal tables with pendants ground this soaring kitchen.

image via ThingsthatInspire




Love this big Farm Table mixed with contemporary Pendants

image via WillowDecor



Brown Table contrast nicely with the light gray cabinets. The chairs add elegance to the room. image via ThingsthatInspire

Ohhhh I just love the look of a table in a kitchen. Especially if it has a fabulous chandelier above it!

It feels much more intimate to me than an island.

Sometimes an island can feel very heavy in a smaller room.

Don’t get me wrong, islands are great in some kitchens. But sometimes I wish people would give up the idea of the island and place a pretty table in there instead.

Why do I love tables? They are open, creating a sense of more space in the room. They infuse a different material and style into the room- Not just all matching cabinets!!! They can be totally changed up based on table linens, settings, etc. Since tables are not built-in, I find people feel more freedom when selecting them. They are more willing to take risks, pick something with a little personality, mix styles, choose color!

Yet they also provide practicality.

The table gives you extra prep space, if you need it. They are movable! And of course, they are a great gathering spot.

What do you think? Would you forgo a kitchen island for a table?





via cococozy



via TheKitchenDesigner

via Mimi Oconnel



Image via xJavierx flickr page



Mary Evelyn McKee



Image via xJavierx flickr page



via Design Sponge



Via Elle Decor



via TheKitchenDesigner

Nate Berkus via
Desire to Inspire



Simon Watson via
Desire to Inspire



Image via
Desire to Inspire