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A ’60s Kitchen Gets With the Times

Kitchen Remodel

Good design has a timeliness that remains long after other homes from a similar era become “dated.”  Unfortunately, this isn’t generally the case with kitchens — which are usually one of the first rooms in a home to get long in the tooth.  This architect designed and built home from the 60’s had the bones of a great house, but it was high time to update the kitchen — and in the process create an impact that extended beyond just one room.

Vision

For its time, the kitchen of this home was quite advanced, with amenities you typically wouldn’t have found in homes of its vintage.  It suffered, however, from a lack of access from the “public” spaces of the house.  Beyond just creating a more contemporary look for their kitchen, our clients wanted a layout with an openness consistent with their love of entertaining.

Challenge

The approach to the kitchen was through an area that had been designed to create a dining “nook,” but ended up forcing traffic along its edge rather than a more direct diagonal path.  In addition to being “out of the flow,” the kitchen suffered from a light imbalance, which could be helped in part by not only replacing the existing windows, but also by incorporating a bank of windows that was currently blocked by the dining room wall.

Accomplishment

Removing the dining room wall not only made a dramatic difference in the flow of traffic to the kitchen, but also allowed us to tie in the new and enlarged windows in that room with the bank of windows in the dining room.  To further balance the resulting light, we added two skylights to the kitchen ceiling, along with can and pendant lighting.  In addition to a long marble topped island that served both as a counter and cooking station, we framed in half walls on the left and right in the area between the kitchen and the newly modified dining area, which helped further define the space as well as create an entrance to the room.  We also installed new cabinets, painted the walls, and laid down a cherry hardwood floor.

Highlights

As you look over the before and after photographs of this remodel, it may be hard to believe that they were taken in the same house.  More than just a dramatic kitchen remodel, this project affected two rooms, and improved traffic flow through the entire home.  Notice also that we kept the existing teak wall.  Some things are just timeless.

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A Kitchen Sees the Light

Kitchen Remodel

In reading our stories about kitchen remodels, you’d be forgiven for coming to the conclusion that we have a thing about drop ceilings.  Suffice it to say that we’ve removed more than a few of them in our career.

It’s not a bias per se, it’s just that they generally serve no other purpose than housing florescent light fixtures — and we think there are better alternatives when it comes to bringing light into a living space, as this case study demonstrates.

Vision

In this remodel project, our client wanted to not only update the look of their kitchen, but address an issue unique to its original design: the quality of the light.  In the process of improving this aspect of the kitchen, we also suggested a change that enhanced the flow of activity in the adjoining room.  In our business, the obvious is quite often hidden.

Challenge

While the original kitchen was spacious and well designed overall, it suffered from one particular drawback.  Because it faced east, with a wall almost entirely of windows, it received early morning sun.  With no other windows to balance this out, there was a lot of contrast.  To address this, we removed the drop ceiling and added a skylight along with strategically placed can lights to achieve the balance we were looking for.  An additional challenge in this kitchen was that it had only one wall to serve as both the location for appliances and storage.

Accomplishment

To update the overall look of the kitchen, we added new cabinets and stained a built-in bench to match them.  We also replaced the existing linoleum with hardwood and put in new windows with a raised sill height to reduce the amount of splash clean up.  To give folks the option of standing at the kitchen bar, we raised the height of the counter.  In addition to improving the light in the kitchen, we also improved its functionality by taking out an existing double oven, which we replaced with added counter space and cabinets.  We then added a range and oven in the center of the kitchen wall, along with a stone tile back splash.

Highlights

Before undertaking this remodel, we noticed that the existing placement of the sliding door to an outside deck in the adjoining room resulted in wasted space.  We suggested moving the sliding door further along the wall.  Our client’s trust in letting us do this created a more logical pathway outdoors, as well as a better seating layout.  When you look holistically at the relationship between one space and another, good things happen.

Click on photos to enlarge. 

 

 

 

 

 

A Few Feet from Functional to Fantastic

Kitchen Remodel

A little extra square footage can make a huge difference in the functionality of a space — as can the addition of high-end amenities and finishes.  In the case of this remodel, the combination of the two transformed a kitchen from barely adequate into an exceptional entertainment area.  

Vision

Our clients enjoyed entertaining, but their existing kitchen allowed little standing room for gatherings.  It also had low ceilings and was closed off from the rest of the home.  With a little “borrowed” space, and some contemporary zest, we saw the potential to change all that.

Challenge

The former kitchen’s nook was too small to be of much utility to the family, so the most obvious step in the remodel was to incorporate this space into the new kitchen (which also meant removing a fireplace).  To further increase the size of the kitchen area, however, we would have to move some walls while keeping the same roof line and using the same trusses.

Accomplishment

While preserving the basic U-shaped layout of the kitchen, we bumped out one wall by three feet, and another by two (we adapted this structural change into a gable on the home’s exterior).  This created a wide open space inside for a large central island with seating for four.  To further increase the sense of spaciousness, we also removed the former kitchen’s drop down ceiling.  We replaced the original windows in the kitchen and adjoining dining nook with new, commercial-grade windows.  Along with the kitchen’s expansion, we installed a main sink and a prep sink, two dishwashers, a huge single level island, and a separate fridge/freezer side-by-side setup.

Highlights

This remodel, which was featured in the Idaho Statesman, effectively doubled the size of our clients’ kitchen.  In addition to ensuring that they will be able to entertain not only in comfort but also in style, the high quality products and sleek, contemporary design will bring years of enjoyment.  We’d be remiss without acknowledging the some great local companies we worked with to make this project a success: Jaymark cabinets (cabinetry), Seed Interiors (interior design), and Jim’s Appliances (Thermadore appliance package).  We like to think that we’re known by the company we keep.

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Good Design = Solving Problems

Kitchen Remodel

It’s tempting to believe that award winning design is all about epic transformation.  The true “design aficionado,” however, appreciates that great remodel design is first and foremost about solving problems in an esthetically satisfying way.  Think of it as the perfect union of right and left brain — and then read about this North End kitchen remodel that resulted in a first place award.

Vision

The kitchen of this North End home had not been updated for decades, and its current owners wanted not only to give it a more contemporary look, but solve some issues that impeded its functionality — while staying within a tight budget.

Challenge

There were a number of problems with this kitchen that had less to do with its size and layout than with its basic design.  To begin with, it was impossible to get to the sink when the dishwasher was open.  In addition, the relative isolation of the range, which we quite often see in North End kitchens, did nothing to make it “cook friendly.”  Finally, some of the kitchen cabinets were awkwardly placed, and the kitchen itself was especially chilly on cold days (you’ll soon discover why).  Due to size constraints and bearing wall placement, we needed to contain our remodel within the existing footprint of the former kitchen — which meant that relocating appliances and moving the sink location was simply not an option.

Accomplishment

Despite the above constraints, we were able to slide the dishwasher two feet to create more space at the sink — which meant that the owners could now actually stand at the sink and load dishes into the dishwasher…at the same time!  We installed a new range and positioned it so that it was centered between two new counter tops and cabinets, which made for a much improved cooking experience.  On the esthetic front, we refinished the existing fir flooring (a typical floor for homes of this era) and updated everything else in the space, which included new (and in some cases, better designed) cabinets.

Highlights

This was a simple upgrade with a couple of modifications that made for a more functional AND attractive kitchen.  While removing the old cabinetry, we did come across a surprise (not that uncommon in older homes): there was no insulation behind the lathe and plaster of the exterior walls.  Needless to say, we added it — making the overall effect a heart warming one for our clients in more than just a figurative sense.

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A Kitchen Loses the Blues…and Gets a New Life

Kitchen Remodel

As important a center of family life as our kitchens have become, there are some that make you wonder if they weren’t designed as an afterthought.  This kitchen remodel not only dramatically improved its utility and appearance, but took advantage of views of the outside to enhance its sense of spaciousness and light.

Vision

The former kitchen in this home reflected an early ‘60s floor plan that might at one time have been open, but which suffered a remodel that separated the galley-style kitchen from the rest of the house.  The prescription was nothing short of a serious makeover that would redefine the space itself.

Challenge

Some kitchen remodels can be effectively accomplished in place.  In the case of this kitchen, however, what was required was a relocation — starting with removing a full height wall and built-in cabinet that had resulted in a cramped dining room and wasted space that could be better put to use.  Adding insult to injury was the blue cabinetry!

Accomplishment

In addition to removing a wall, we also took out the original soffit.  To bring in some nice views of the backyard landscaping, we took out one window and enlarged another.  With the space that we gained, we were not only able to expand the working area of the kitchen through its relocation, but also include a pantry.  To improve the overall look, we installed painted cabinets (bye, bye blues!), a butcher block island, and Cambria counter tops.  We also refinished the hardwood floors.  The before and after photos speak at least a thousand words to the difference this remodel made!

Highlights

A change as dramatic as this remodel can require quite a leap of faith, as well as a financial investment.  To help ease into the transition between the old and the new, we like to employ 3D modeling to help our clients better understand the ramifications of the design decisions we guide them through.  With this remodel, we should point out that the original kitchen included a tile element that the clients wanted to carry over into the redesign.  We took the extra step of scanning it into our model, much to our client’s delight!

Notice the location of the two windows on the right and the hanging chandelier as the location did not change.  Painted cabinets with butcher block island and Cambria counter tops (sussex).  Scroll down for several before, during and after pictures, including a 3D rendering completed during the design phase.

Goodbye blue cabinets…note the ceiling voids showing the former wall location.  We constructed a temporary wall (left) with a secure door to separate the living area from the construction area.  The large pipe is our filtration system to help keep the air clear of dust.

We modeled the kitchen prior to construction – the cabinet to the left of the window was added later.

Hit on any image to see larger images



A Structural Kitchen Remodel

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.

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A Kitchen Rejoins the Family

Kitchen Remodel

Somewhere in the evolution of home design, kitchens were relegated to a “separate but equal” status in the hierarchy of home life.  This is especially apparent in the example of this North End home, in which we reunited an isolated and lonely kitchen with a larger family space as part of a more extensive remodel.

Vision

The kitchen of this home was cramped, dark, and separated from the flow of family activity by a wall dividing it from the dining room, and by a hallway of near epic length.  With the help of some 3D designs, we showed our clients how removing a wall and splitting up the hallway would completely change the feel of their home, as well as open up the kitchen to the rest of the house.

Challenge

Given the larger remodel effort we undertook in this home, we wanted to keep the kitchen update as economical as possible.  In addition to opening up the kitchen space, our clients wanted a good sized pantry and a mud room that would create a transition between the garage and the living area.

Accomplishment

By splitting the hallway into three new spaces, we were able to add a pantry to the kitchen, as well as create an entry space and mud room leading from the garage.  We took out the wall between the kitchen and dining room, and gained even more space for the kitchen by removing the upper portion of an existing stairwell to the basement, which had the additional benefit of allowing natural light to enter the basement through two new skylights that we added in the kitchen area.  We kept the sink, refrigerator, and stove top in the same locations, but upgraded the appliances and cabinetry.  We refinished the floors, patching in the hardwood between the newly joined kitchen and dining rooms.  Adding a new color scheme completed the effect of a more spacious and brighter kitchen.

Highlights

This remodel had a dramatic impact on the functionality and feel of this home.  As our architectural sketch demonstrates, removing the long hallway that had divided the house not only made a world of difference to the kitchen area, but also created new points of access to the home’s master suite and children’s bedrooms through a single hall location.

Click on photos to enlarge. 

 

 

 

 

A Kitchen Boldly Comes Out

Kitchen Remodel

Why is it that kitchens are so often hidden away from the rest of the life of the family?  When you think of how central they are to nurturing us, it seems perversely ironic that they should be banished the way they so often are.  This kitchen just wasn’t going to take it anymore.  Here is its coming out story.

Vision

To look at the size and isolation of this kitchen, it seemed as though it sould have been in an apartment rather than a family home.  Our clients wanted to expand it out…but to do so meant that a wall was going to have to come down — literally as well as figuratively!

Challenge

The structural element separating the kitchen from the dining and family rooms was a partitioning wall that was fortunately not load bearing.  It did, however, house the refrigerator and some cabinets, so relocating these would be key to our remodel efforts.  We also had to move some electrical and plumbing vents, but we kept the main part of the kitchen in its same location.

Accomplishment

In place of the former wall, we built an island that housed a new stovetop and oven, and moved the refrigerator to a location convenient to the cooking area.  We attached a half bar to this workspace and planed out the ceiling to flow seamlessly into the family and dining rooms.  To create space for storage to replace what was lost with the wall we removed, we took out a window and added new counter space and cabinets.  Upgraded countertops, new lighting, and a bold color scheme completed the package with style.

Highlight

The before and after pictures in this case study are a powerful testimony to what it means to take a space from ordinary to extraordinary.  It takes vision to think “outside the boxy” and let a kitchen live into its mission as a focus of family life.  You’ll notice in the “after” picture of the adjoining family room that the remodel spilled over to the fireplace as well.  We like to think that good design is contagious.

Click on photos to enlarge:

Managing Chaos

Remodeling Experience

In thinking about the process of a home remodel, I’m reminded of an old blues song: “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.”  The inescapable fact of any significant home makeover is that in between the “before” and “after” is the rather messy “during.”

Walls come down, soffits are demolished, plumbing and wiring are relocated, trades cadres come and go as their craft requires…it’s like living in a construction zone.  Which is, of course, exactly what it is.  And while it’s not as though a new build doesn’t have its share of dust and drama, the difference is that folks don’t generally try to live in a home while it’s being constructed.  By the time they turn the key in the front door and walk inside, it’s all bright and shiny, with everything in its place.  At least, that’s the expectation.

If a remodel project is extensive enough, our clients will, on rare occasion, choose to relocate to a hotel or rental until their remodel is accomplished.  More often, however, we simply devise temporary solutions that minimize the impact of the project on their daily lives.  Take this current kitchen remodel in south Boise for example.  The following pictures illustrate the ways that STRITE helps our clients “manage the chaos” that ensues in the necessary transition between “before” and “after.”

The demolition phase of any remodel project is probably the most traumatic, but we’ve learned a lot of ways over the years to minimize its impact on our clients’ lives.

 

The demolition starts now!

The demolition starts now!

 

The door between calm and chaos (or an orderly sort). We've constructed a temporary wall between the kitchen and dining room with a door for access between the space under construction and the rest of the home.

The door between calm and chaos (of an orderly sort). We’ve constructed a temporary wall between the kitchen and dining room with a door for access between the space under construction and the rest of the home.

 

During a kitchen remodel, we will usually set up a temporary food preparation area in either the garage or in another room, based on whichever option is most convenient for our clients.

During a kitchen remodel, we usually set up a temporary food preparation area in either the garage or in another room, based on whatever option is most convenient for our clients.

 

All the comforts of home.

All the comforts of home.

 

Separating the family room from the kitchen/dining nook during the demolition and construction phases.

Separating the family room from the kitchen/dining nook during the demolition and construction phases.

 

Protecting the furniture in the living room, which also serves as a holding area for furnishings we removed from an impacted dining nook.

Protecting the furniture in the living room, which also serves as a holding area for furnishings we removed from an impacted dining nook.

 

Why do these people look so happy about their kitchen being demolished? Perhaps its because they know what awaits them when their remodel is finish.

Why do these people look so happy about their kitchen being demolished? Perhaps it’s because they know what awaits them when their remodel is finished.

 

A Multi-Dimensional Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen Remodel

There are many compelling reasons for remodeling.  Sometimes it’s about updating a look to better reflect the tastes and sensibilities of the homeowners.  Sometimes it’s to upgrade a room’s intended function, or improve the flow of activities that take place there.  Sometimes it’s simply to create added space.  In the case of this kitchen remodel, all the above applied!

Vision

A primary motivation for this particular kitchen remodel was that our client wanted a more updated look as part of a much larger home makeover.  The existing cabinets were falling apart, and of poor quality.  At the same time, changing the layout of the kitchen presented opportunities to not only improve the esthetics of the room, but add some additional utility in the form of a mudroom and a pantry/baking area.

Challenges

To improve the work flow of the kitchen, we took out a section of the existing counters in order to add an island in the middle.  To make this work, we gained some precious inches by notching out the space for the refrigerator to make if flush with the new cabinets we installed — which featured a distressed look.  We also improved the overall spaciousness of the room by raising the existing ceiling to the floor joist level, and replacing the florescent lighting with can lights.  By moving the washer and dryer upstairs, where they could be closer to the “source” of dirty laundry, we were able to convert the laundry room into a pantry and dedicated baking area with room for all the necessary appliances, which connected to a single power strip.  We also borrowed about 10 feet of garage space behind the kitchen to create a mudroom.

Accomplishment

Along with the major changes that this remodel accomplished, we also made a number of other functional and esthetic improvements, including new hardwood floors and raising the sill height of the kitchen window to accommodate a tiled backsplash for easier clean up. This kitchen is a lovely example of utilizing the existing footprint and maximizing the clients’ satisfaction with quality, upgraded products and design touches (like the crown molding that harmonizes with the cabinetry).

Highlights

There are two elements of this project that we quite often incorporate into other kitchen remodels.  One is the removal of the drop down ceiling to create a greater sense of space.  The other is the creation of a “buffer zone” between the inside and the outside, which also provides an additional storage space for bicycles and outdoor items, as well as a “dumping ground” that protects the kitchen area from the “elements.”

Click photos to enlarge:

 

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