Light & Bright Kitchen Renovation
This family in Downers Grove hadn’t worked with an interior designer before, but they knew their kitchen needed to be improved. Before reaching out, they spoke to a kitchen design company who gave them a ridiculous price for the renovation. When I met with them we discussed the different grade levels of what’s available and how these decisions would impact their budget. We chatted about different countertop types, durability levels, how knocking down a wall would impact the design and budget, and how long they plan to keep the house. By the end of our hour together, they were able to understand what the renovation entailed and how the decisions we’d make together would impact their budget. I saw some glaring issues with the kitchen layout and knew that by switching a few things around, I’d be able to get them a more functional kitchen too.
Before my clients purchased the home, a flipper had come in and “renovated” the kitchen. The cabinets were flimsy and the hinges were weak. The cabinet cases were already warping from the heat of the dishwasher and the sink was difficult to access because it was jammed in a corner and had low cabinets above it. The lighting was not sufficient for the space.
After taking some measurements and drafting up what the existing conditions looked like, I began working on the new plan. I tried several different options before showing two to my client. Each option included different features and unique characteristics that met their project objectives.
Kitchen designs can be very technical and there are many code requirements and guidelines surrounding the kitchen design industry. Using local codes and the NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association) guidelines, I designed a code compliant kitchen that was also beautiful. By moving the sink, I was able to create a landing space on each side for task work. The homeowners also had more space to access the sink because I changed the upper cabinet configuration to give them adequate clearance between the countertop and the sink. Working with their newer, existing appliances, I moved the stove to the other wall and made sure there was proper landing space on each side there as well. The landing space between the stove and the refrigerator was enlarged to accommodate both appliances which meant that I was able to close up the small slice of counter next to the refrigerator which would remain in its existing location. By creating an appliance garage next to the refrigerator, my clients were able to maintain a well kept look in their kitchen and hide items they use daily, but didn’t want to necessarily look at every time they walked through the kitchen.
The home is a split level and had a half wall that provided visibility to the lower family room, but it also created functional awkwardness. They had an entire corner of their kitchen that couldn’t be used. Instead, I had the contractor close in the opening and added a freestanding marble table that expands their kitchen prep area. The table is moveable so they didn’t have to commit to cabinets and a counter in this space. By closing the wall, I also was able to add functionality to the adjoining space in the family room. This was a huge win.
To improve the lighting, we added recessed lighting in the ceiling and under-cabinet lighting below the upper cabinets. I placed the lighting to illuminate the task areas of the kitchen and positioned them so that a shadow wouldn’t be cast on the work area when standing at the countertop. The under cabinet lighting was selected to further provide illumination for taskwork and keep fingers safe from kitchen appliances and knives. We also added accent lighting in the glass cabinet for display and a general overhead light that could quickly be switched on if they were simply passing through the space.
The new layout is much more functional and lighting levels now meet minimum foot-candle requirements for a kitchen. They love the new look and cooking in their kitchen so much that they have been preparing more meals at home.