The Heart of the Home

After exploring all the options to make the most of this kitchen, adding on was the obvious choice.
Sara Jane Weeks

A 9- x 14-foot 1950s kitchen sandwiched between the dining and family rooms at the back of the house. Homeowners Lizzer and Scott Graham of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, wanted more light, space, and organization for their growing family.

Adding on! Remodeling within such small dimensions seemed useless. Building a new space is sometimes the smartest solution to make a house fit your needs.

The Grahams built a new kitchen but were left with unused space where the old one once stood. With a little creativity, however, the area was reconfigured for the active family of five.

By including an ice-maker, sink, bookshelves, two desks, and a catchall storage unit, the Grahams, with the help of designer Adele Glascock and builder Jim Reed, created a storage room, wet bar, and office. The easily accessed storage area features three drawers, one for each child, and handy wooden pegs for backpacks and other items.

Low Cost, High Style
To bring a touch of antiquity to the kitchen, Lizzer found some wooden brackets and attached them to her new island workspace. The worn white paint and imperfections add instant patina and age.

Brackets like Lizzer's can be found at flea markets and antiques shops all over the South. Check your local Yellow Pages for a resource near you. Half the fun is in the hunt.

Quick-Change Artist
Lizzer was tired of the unorganized drawers in her old kitchen, so she had cabinetmaker Jim Easterly install plastic liners to keep spices and other kitchen essentials close at hand.

If you aren't replacing your cabinets but want organized drawers, look for similar plastic liners at your local home-improvement or organization specialty shop, and have them retrofitted. It's easy to do and inexpensive.

Knowing When to Add on
Should you add on or reconfigure what you have? This question is faced by many homeowners when tackling a tough space problem. Here are some tips to help you make up your mind.

  • Determine your budget. If you can't spend a great deal, improving what you have is often the best option. Depending on room size and where you live, a kitchen addition could begin around $30,000 and increase quickly from there.
  • Look at your existing floor plan. Can you reconfigure your rooms by removing walls? Oftentimes, you'll lose another room trying to make one bigger.
  • Consider how many years you'll likely stay in the house. If the answer is five or more, an addition could make good sense. The Grahams wanted to be here long term.
  • Look for wasted space. This can usually be found under stairs and near heating and air equipment. Small areas can make great pantries or create places to tuck away appliances for more floorspace.
  • Think about how the existing floor plan would be affected. An addition can either help the flow of the house or ruin it by making the space feel choppy. Lizzer and Scott were able to get the kitchen of their dreams and create a better flow between rooms.
  • Do you have enough room for an addition? Many municipalities have regulations stating how far a house must be from the property line. You may not have the room for an addition; find out setbacks from your local building inspector before deciding what to do.