Room for Family and Fun

The recipe for this kitchen's success? Take two rooms, remove one wall, and fill the space with function and attractive design.

Sarah Jernigan
Room for Family and Fun (Promo)

Kathy and Brian Murphy bought the perfect house. It had just the right style and features, with one little exception--the kitchen. It was small, enclosed, and needed work.

"When we moved in, the kitchen was dated beyond help," explains Kathy. "We wanted to give it 100% because we spend most of our time here. I didn't feel the space had any other relationship to the house. It was all enclosed." An adjacent back bedroom, though, gave the family hope. With help from Dallas designer Cindy Zelazny Rodenhaver, their dreams of an open kitchen came true.

And the Walls Came Down
The plan called for removing a wall that separated the kitchen from a spare bedroom and connecting the two smaller spaces into one room with several functional areas. Because it was a bearing wall, a support header beam was installed to reinforce the ceiling and second floor. The joining of the two rooms tripled the amount of usable space and also linked the new area to the outdoors.

"I love that I can see into the backyard now," says Kathy. "I can always keep my eye on the boys when they are playing." Matthew and Michael were also the inspiration behind the addition of the extra cabinet that accommodates a computer center. "It is exactly what we wanted--a multitasking space," says Kathy. "I can easily monitor what the boys are playing on the computer and cook at the same time."

Constructed of pine to match the new kitchen cabinets, the center holds everything from school supplies to a small television concealed in the upper area. "I even asked for special compartments to hold the big fat Dallas phone books," says Kathy. Needless to say, it's a kitchen essential.

A Fresh Perspective
Although the overall space grew, the original U-shaped plan for the kitchen work area stayed the same. It functioned well for food prep, but it was not fashionable. To update the look and style, Cindy installed pine cabinetry to coordinate with the granite tile countertops. The addition of an elevated dining bar, recessed lights, and glass-front cabinet doors enhances the space with modern touches. Upper cabinets are found only along the walls. Double ovens replace the refrigerator, which now stands on the right wall, so everything is accessible.

"It works beautifully," declares Kathy. "It's organized like a new house with the charm of an old one."

(To read about another great kitchen makeover, see "Currey's Kitchen," on page148 in the March 2003 issue of Southern Living.)