A Structural Kitchen Remodel

Many remodels can be thought of as “cosmetic surgery” — but there are some visions that can only be realized through a more structural approach.  At times like this, homeowners truly appreciate having a remodel partner with a solid portfolio of construction experience.  

Vision

The owners of this foothills home not only wanted to give their kitchen a more contemporary look, but also take advantage of a bank of windows that looked out onto their recently landscaped front yard — and in the process, let more light into what had been a cramped and dark space.

Challenge

Using a computer generated rendering as our inspiration, we took out the wall separating the kitchen from the bank of windows to bring more light into the room and create a greater sense of spaciousness.  To further augment this source of natural light, we installed two skylights as well.  The greater structural challenge, however, was a load-bearing post that obstructed the view of the kitchen from the living room.  To remove this obstruction, we framed up both sides of the roof, removed the old beam, cut out the joist, and then inset a new beam that was 22 inches deep.

Accomplishment

To further enhance the sense of spaciousness in the kitchen — without adding square footage — we moved the range and sink and put in a big island that we centered below the new skylights.  We installed a hardwood floor that could be sanded, and we carried over the look of the beam — which we wrapped in a walnut veneer to match the kitchen cabinets — into the adjoining living room by wrapping that beam in a similar veneer.  To compliment the more contemporary look of the kitchen, we also updated the living room fireplace by giving it a new finish and mantle (that matched the beams) and installing a wood burning stove in the process.

Highlights

With almost any remodel, there is always more than meets the eye.  In refinishing the fireplace, we discovered that it had previously been constructed with large stones, then at some point these were covered over with plaster.  Harmonizing its new look with the rest of the remodel took no less than 30 bags of concrete to accomplish — but the results were well worth the effort.  This was a challenging remodel (new bearing beam for post removal; installation of skylights on a flat roof; reworking the fireplace walls), but thanks to the owners’ timely decision-making and proactive attitude during construction, their vision came to fruition — and was included in the Remodeled Tour of Homes 2012!

Notes for the images

As the Kitchen was located in the center of the home, natural light and views were in high demand.  By removing a wall to open views to the recently landscaped front yard, and adding two skylights to balance the light in the space (along with an entirely new Kitchen!), the area’s ‘feeling’ was improved considerably.

The Kitchen wasn’t always in the center of the home, in fact, when we stripped off the drywall, we found a former window framed in a common wall to what is now the Garage.  Make note of the wide column supporting the beam.

In order to remove this column, the beam had to be removed and a new beam was installed to for a clear span of the space.  The former column was an actual bearing point.  We installed this new beam, and wrapped it in a 1/4″ walnut veneer to harmonize to the cabinet and mantle finish.

Looking towards the Kitchen from the front Living Room, the former beam remained in place.  We removed the old veneer, built up the beam to make it appear the same size as the new beam, and wrapped this one as well in a walnut veneer to tie into the Kitchen cabinets and new mantle.  The fireplace was also updated with a new finish, mantle, and wood burning stove.  The fireplace had seen many lives, starting out as large stones, than covered with a thick adobe style undulating finish, and most recently refinished to a smooth plaster finish to complement the contemporary nature of the Kitchen remodel.

Click on photos to enlarge: