A Husband-and-Wife Team Tackles a Kitchen Reno
With their first big DIY project, a couple transforms a cramped cook space into the heart of the home
Call them “two-it-yourselfers.” Danielle and Derek Coleman, of Highland Park, Illinois, like to work as a team. They first honed their chops on small stuff before tackling home reno. “We refinished some furniture, built a coffee table, but that didn’t cure our itch,” Danielle says. Then they bought their first house, a 1920 Colonial Revival with a tiny kitchen, and really got busy.
The 10-by-12-foot cook space was not only too small, “It felt dirty, with layers of wallpaper coated with smoke because there was no exhaust vent,” Danielle says. “Plus, the brown cabinets made the room even darker.” So they annexed part of an adjoining sunroom and the side yard next to it for an extra 80 square feet, then bumped out the sink wall 4 feet, more than doubling the footprint.
Framing the additions, however, required calling in a pro. “Since it was winter, we needed it done quickly,” says Derek. But the couple committed themselves to the rest of the job, including rewiring the electrical, fashioning an island out of stock cabinets, building the vent hood, and trimming upper cabinets with five-piece crown molding.
Shown: The old kitchen was dreary, with dark cabinets, laminate counters, and a cracked tile floor. A stove jammed in the corner next to the sink didn’t help.
Airy and bright, the new kitchen is now all the Colemans hoped for. The enlarged footprint made room for a spacious center island and plenty of cabinets. “I have more storage now than I know what to do with,” says Danielle. A radiator concealed in the island also helps warm the marble countertop.
“It feels good to come home every day and see everything we accomplished together,” says Derek.
Contractor: S&O Brothers Construction; 773-451-9437.
The island is made up of four connected base cabinets. An opening cut into one of them fits the microwave.
Homeowner Tip from Derek Coleman, Highland Park, Il:
“Visit resale sites to seek out bargains when shopping for appliances; you can find manuals online, if the owner doesn’t provide them.”
Countertops: . Microwave, dishwasher: . Fridge, range: . Wine fridge: .
The Colemans moved the kitchen’s hot-water radiator from a demolished exterior wall, and worked it into the island to disguise it. The pipes and shut-off valve are accessible from the basement. Derek put sheet metal between the radiator and the adjoining cabinet so it doesn’t absorb the heat.
Radiator screening: .
In the corner located by the sliding door to the new deck, Derek built a high-back bench that serves as a drop zone. Throughout the kitchen, elaborate crown molding extends the upper cabinets all the way to the ceiling.
This area is also a dog zone, an ideal dining area for Decker, the Colemans’ Australian cattle dog/terrier mix. The slate floor helps hide dirt and paw prints.
A 120-square-foot box, the old kitchen offered scant prep and storage area.
Bumping out in two directions more than doubled the size of the kitchen to 280 square feet.
1. Took a 10-by-8-foot space from the sunroom and adjacent side yard; bumped out the sink wall 4 feet.
2. Centered basin along the new sink wall and replaced one double-hung window with three casement units.
3. Moved the hall passageway to fit in a larger range with counter space on either side.
4. Created a wide cased opening to allow for easy flow between kitchen and sunroom.
5. Relocated the fridge from a remote corner to save steps during food prep and cleanup.
6. Added an 8-foot-4-inch-long storage island with a microwave and radiator built in.