Updating the South One Space at a TimeUpdating the South One Space at a Time

Can This Kitchen Be Saved? A Case Study in Kitchen Renovation

March 1, 2019

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Kitchen renovations don’t have to be a headache! I know, it can seem like a lot and quite frankly, renovations can be a bit like pulling a thread on a sweater once you begin. Let me show you the process of a recent kitchen renovation with my clients, Mr. & Mrs. Smith (yes that’s their real name, no joke).

Can I Renovate this Kitchen?….

The Smith’s have a lovely home. I am sure when it was new, it must have been swank! The problem? Like most older homes, it was clearly in need of some updates. This kitchen, small, dark and seriously dated, was long overdue for a renovation.  The appliances, and lighting especially, were badly out of date and did not serve their needs. The cabinets were builder grade oak and probably original to the house.

Dramatic kitchen remodel

The Client and Her Dream Kitchen!

Last year, Mrs. Smith, let's call her Ann, contacted me about her kitchen design. She had been to a big box store and had one of those “complimentary designs” done. She was questioning whether it was the right plan for her kitchen renovation. The design had all of the elements alright, complete with an island! The problem was the “island” was about 7″ long and only about 18″ wide, really more of an obstacle rather than a work surface.

Ann is probably the best cook in all of Jacksonville. Now that her children are grown and out of the home, she and Mr. Smith finally had the money to do something about the outdated kitchen! (Yes, the darlings are expensive)! She loves to bake and wanted a baking center. Complete with double ovens side-by-side, so it would not be so hard on her back bending down to get the yummy treats out of a hot oven. She also wanted a large island with a prep sink.

Also on the list was additional light in the kitchen, the only natural light came through a rather small window over the sink. Ann also wanted a built in look with the refrigerator, as well as a coffee station, new cook top with a pot-filler and a gorgeous range-hood in place of her over the range microwave. Whew!

So….how do we fit all of this in such limited space? Our main obstacle was the attached family room. It was 4″ lower than the kitchen area. We could fit the island alright, but, you could not get any seating area around it, due to the 4″ drop! It really was not a “sunken family room; as much as it was ordinary trip hazard.

Kitchen Renovation Solutions!

So, now armed with my measurements and my wish list, I begin to draw, keeping in mind all of the obstacles we are facing. We decided to eliminate the breakfast area off the kitchen and use it for additional kitchen space. They have a dining room directly off the kitchen and that is the space they use for entertaining. This gave us the room for not 1 but 2 oven towers side-by-side. Each tower has 2 drawers under the ovens and a large cabinet above, giving her plenty of storage for her baking pans and ingredients.

Opposite the towers is the large island with a prep sink. The plumbing was already located fairly close to the former peninsula. By keeping the appliances and plumbing close to their original spot, we saved a bundle not having to relocate the plumbing and electric. This is always something to consider, as relocating plumbing and electric can add a bundle of dough, (pun intended) to your renovation costs.

Our biggest obstacle was the 2 bar-stool island seating they wanted (remember they are now empty nesters). We had space for the island but the adjacent room was 4″ below the kitchen's finished floor. Leaving no room for bar stools, without tumbling over the edge! We decided to open the wall to the family room, taking it from what was a 5′ opening to a 10′ opening. While also raising the family room floor to the same level as the kitchen. It was not as complicated as it sounds. In the end, it created a fabulous “great room” feel. We ran the wood-look tile from the front foyer, through the dining area, kitchen and great room which made the space look so much bigger!

The Smiths’ existing kitchen had only one window and fluorescent soffit lighting around the perimeter.  Soffits are common in older kitchens and are often times easy to remove.  Sometimes they do contain essential things like electric, venting or plumbing! Fortunately, we were able to remove all except one which contained an AC vent. We added low voltage LED can lighting to the work areas, enlarged the window over the sink and added an additional window, (very special) which floods the room with natural light!

how to renovate an outdated kitchen

Natural light now floods this formerly dark kitchen!


A New Renovated Kitchen!

Kitchen renovation

Is this the same space?

It Is Possible

It’s possible to create your dream kitchen even if you think it's a lost cause! With a little creativity and a lot of patience it can be done and does not always cost as much as you might think! With clever planning, we were able to include everything on the Smiths' wish list and even added a few extras! What was once a small and dreary space space, is now flooded with light. The entire first floor of their home looks like an entirely new space! The kitchen is where Ann spends much of her time and she loves the light and views of her backyard she now has! (She even baked a cake for our crew once the renovation was complete!)

This kitchen is truly a cook's dream! If YOUR kitchen space is more of a nightmare please reach out as I would love to help you with a solution! If you like the Smiths results, subscribe to my list to get more information on kitchen and bath renovation solutions and updates on projects I am working on!


“We could not be happier with our kitchen…and we could not have done it without Deb and her crew. Deb was instrumental in coming up with creative solutions to problems and was also very helpful in coming up with ways we could save money in order for us to get all the things we wanted from our new kitchen.” 

“We definitely would use Design Line Works again, and highly recommend them”

                                         The Smiths

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