Laurey W. Glenn / Styling: Alan Henderson
There are times when you have to accept your home's flaws and work around them. "But," says homeowner and architect Robert Thompson, "sometimes you should just move them." That's exactly what Robert and wife Ashley did in their house. They opened their minds to new possibilities and didn't let the past determine the future.
When the Thompsons decided to remodel their kitchen, Robert first tried to work with the existing one that was located at the front of the home. The windows over the sink provided the perfect nosy-neighbor view of the street, jokes Ashley.
The problem was that nothing seemed to flow. The kitchen opened into the formal living room instead of the casual family room. The space was small and closed in.
Instead of being tied to the room's previous purpose, Robert and Ashley designed a kitchen in the home's existing dining room, a space that opens into both the family room at the back of the house and the living room. Its central location was perfect for the traffic and activity of the Thompson family, which includes three young boys.
While the location was great, there were a few problems to address before work could begin. First an HVAC unit, hidden in a closet in the old dining room, was moved to the other side of the house. The closet, which jutted out into the room, was torn out to make room for cabinets and appliances. In addition, a window was installed above the sink to bring more natural light into the new kitchen.
The dining room was relocated to the space occupied by the former kitchen. New, larger windows in an Arts and Crafts design bring light and architectural interest to the revamped space. New hardwood floors match those in the adjacent living room and the kitchen.
Dollars and Sense
The Thompsons spent their money wisely, cutting costs on some things so they could splurge on others. Consider these ways to save money without compromising quality.
- Finger-jointed (also called paint-grade) molding consists of short pieces of wood joined together to make a long section. It is usually less expensive than molding made from a single piece of wood. If it's thoroughly primed and painted, you can't tell the difference.
- MDF (medium-density fiberboard) is a less expensive alternative to birch plywood for built-ins that will be painted. Don't use MDF for bookshelves, though, because it isn't as strong as plywood and may bend.
- Recessed lights are less expensive than ornate chandeliers and usually provide better illumination.
- In the kitchen, install an expensive countertop only on some surfaces, such as the island, and use a less expensive material everywhere else.
- If you want granite without the hefty price, cover surfaces with 12-inch-square granite tiles, and edge with wood trim. It gives the look of solid granite at a fraction of the cost, especially if you install it yourself.
- Remember, paint is almost always less expensive than wallpaper.