Our Designer Dad, Stephen Saint-Onge, transforms a cramped kitchen into an airy space with a beach house vibe.
By Stephen Saint-Onge
Certain projects I've done stay with me more than others. This kitchen makeover is one of my favorites. The family that owns this New Jersey home is much like you and me. They have a 9-year-old daughter, two dogs, jobs and busy schedules. They lived in their house for years without making major renovations.
But eventually they needed a change. Their combined kitchen and living room felt cramped and cluttered—not a place where they wanted to entertain family and friends. They enjoyed eating out at restaurants more than spending time in their own home.
Instead of purchasing a new place, this family did what so many others are doing in today's economy: They stayed put and made their house a little bit more like their dream home. The family loves beach vacations, so our goal was to bring an airy, relaxing seashore vibe to their space.
At the same time, we also thought big. We knew that creating an add-on to the back of their home would open it up and give us the flexibility to create what they hoped.
The old kitchen area was untouched since it was built in the late 1950s. The sink, stove, dishwasher and washing machine were all squished against a faux brick wall on one end.
Storage space was badly needed.
New, energy-efficient appliances were also necessary, as was a larger, more accessible pantry.
The living room and dining room shared one small space.
The old bay window was drafty and only provided partial views of the great yard.
To start the renovation, walls between the kitchen and living/dining room were removed to open up the space.
A 10-foot addition was built along the back of the house to provide more room in the new kitchen area, as well as in a bathroom and bedroom.
The renovated space feels like the beach house of the family's dreams. A wide aisle separates the open kitchen and the casual dining area. Large windows and French doors let in lots of air and natural light, making the backyard feel like an additional room.
Built-in seating on one side of the farmhouse table creates an inviting area where the whole family can dine.
Stainless appliances, white cabinets, frosted glass upper cabinets and a subway tiled backsplash replace the dated appliances that stood against the old, faux brick wall. The dishwasher is now below the sink, along with pull-out trash and recycling drawers.
The oversized island provides ample storage. Layers of light, produced by dimmers, give the illusion of extra depth and bring a feeling of warmth.
The family can entertain in the spacious living area.
Seashells, a model boat and a nautical table runner enhance the home's seaside vibe.
From the inside, the windows and French doors provide dramatic views to the greenery outside. Part two of the project: a deck and patio.
The family now enjoys coming home to their new space.
Designer Dad: Stephen Saint-Onge is the author of the book No Place Like Home: Tips and Techniques for Real Family-Friendly Home Design.
Copyright © 2011 Meredith Corporation.
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