A before picture of a kitchen.

Kitchen #1

Before: Lighten Up
A 6-foot-wide window afforded a water view, but the glare was blinding -- and the room actually looked darker because of the single light source. The vaulted ceiling, however, was a real plus.

Modern Kitchen

After: Enlightened

The new design balances light, color, and texture in a marriage of modern and traditional materials. A taller, narrower over-sink window and a vertical glass-block backsplash behind the stove circulate light and minimize glare. Frameless fir cabinets are warm and textural, whereas the cool glass tile is sleek and shiny.

The Details
Tile: Blue and black glass tiles from 1 to 8 inches square are arranged in a stylized patchwork pattern on the backsplash. Blue-flecked granite is a natural foil for the contemporary, solid-color tile.

Appliances: The substantial range, backsplash, and hood offset the visual mass of the refrigerator cabinet. Additional light enters the room through a small skylight that's contiguous with the wall; glass shelves in the alcove let the light from above shine through.

Kitchen Before and After Floor Plans

The Floor Plans

An interior wall between the kitchen and dining room stood in the way of the homeowners' vision of a more unified space. Removing the wall opened and brightened the kitchen and eating area.


Kitchen #2

Before: Closed Off
The kitchen was dreary and boxlike, with a tiny table crammed into one corner. An add-on aluminum bay window overlooking the backyard was out of sync with the traditional style of the 1919 home's exterior.

Minimalist Kitchen with Green Tile Backsplash

After: Wide Open

European styling shines in every aspect of the transformed kitchen. Multicolored solid-surface countertops play off a bold backsplash composed of handmade 3/8-inch glass tile. Solid maple cabinets are simply styled to showcase the wood’s luminous grain.

The Details
Backsplash: Nature's colors inspired a malachite green, Murano glass–tile backsplash. The terrazzo countertop, custom designed to complement the backsplash, is made from concrete and ground-up glass from curbside and industrial recycling sources. (This heavy material requires solid wood cabinets for support.)

Rangehood: A minimalist wall hood (consisting of a stainless steel "chimney" and glass canopy) allows a nearly unimpeded view of the counter-to-ceiling backsplash. Between the gas/electric cooktop and the electric oven is a handy utensil drawer.

Kitchen Floor Plans

Floor Plans

Removing the wall between the kitchen and laundry and reconfiguring the perimeter cabinets created a room that's spacious and functional (a small laundry area was built in elsewhere). Additional windows along the exterior wall admit soft light.

Before Kitchen

Kitchen #3

Before: Time For Change
The makeover plan for this ranch-house kitchen was modest, but it quickly grew. "We just wanted to change the cooktop and reface the cabinets," explained one of the homeowners. "We ended up ripping the room down to the studs."

Light Wood Cabinets Kitchens

After: Welcoming Space

Entertaining is easier than ever in this warm, welcoming space, with one hitch: "Now we have to drag people from the kitchen into the dining room. No one wants to leave."

The Details
Backsplash: Black granite tiles 12 inches square are set "on point" to comprise a bold backsplash behind the six-burner cooktop.

Prep sink: A prep sink at the breakfast bar counter comes in handy when both cooks are in the kitchen; the gooseneck faucet with brushed-chrome finish matches the cabinetry hardware.

Countertops: Honed granite in shades of cabernet and saffron flecked with black links the wood tones with the black accents used throughout the room.

Shelving: Display shelves in the base cabinets facing the fireplace help provide a transition from kitchen to eating area.

Before and After Kitchen Floor Plans

Floor Plans

Standard-width openings into the living and dining rooms made the original kitchen and eating area feel closed off from the rest of the house. Widening them enhanced the flow from room to room.

Before Kitchen

Kitchen #4

Before: Inconvenient Setup
As is typical of turn-of-the-century Victorian homes, the original kitchen was just an empty room, with the sink relegated to a separate annex. Needless to say, it was an inconvenient setup. A tall cabinet was the only built-in.

Classic Victorian Kitchen

After: Classic Victorian

"We wanted our new kitchen to look like a true Victorian, without compromising our ability to live and work in it." To achieve vintage charm with modern function, they chose state-of-the-art components designed, whenever possible, in the Victorian vernacular.

The Details
Countertops: They chose stainless steel for the main countertops and integral sink over more expensive solid surfacing or stone, preferring to put their remodeling dollars into the cabinets.

Cabinets: Extra-deep cabinets were specified to be flush with the standard-depth refrigerator. This trick gave the appliance the look of an expensive counter-depth model.

The Island: A Carrara marble countertop on the island, 1 1/4 inches thick, has a flat profile with an eased (slightly rounded) edge.

Storage: Open drawers with hand cutouts in place of hardware allow the smoothest access to pots and pans stowed beneath the cooktop.

Before and After Kitchen Floor Plans

Floor Plans

The wall separating a small bedroom from the kitchen came down, and 4 feet were added to the back of the house. These two moves made room for a generous kitchen, open breakfast area, and adjoining new living room.


Kitchen #5

Before: Choppy Design
Gypsum-board arches partly covered the windows of this 1929 Spanish Colonial Revival–style bungalow. A stairway from the back of the kitchen to the garage level cut off access to the outdoors.


After: Ideal Flow

Suffused with light throughout the day, the bright and airy kitchen is now a favorite gathering place for family and guests. The fake arches went first; then two original steel-sash windows were welded to make one larger window over the sink. A butcher-block surface overhangs the island on three sides, allowing seating and room for two cooks.

The Details
Style: The white apron-front farmhouse sink, beaded board, and face-frame cabinets with flush-inset doors and drawers are true to the era.

Tile: Custom-made ceramic field tile was matched to the white cabinets. On the accent tiles, the glaze was rubbed off to reveal a base color similar to that of the integral-color concrete counter.

Lighting: Pendant fixtures with pewter-and-glass shades wash the island in soft light. A tall pantry and broom closet utilize often-ignored corner space.

Before and After Kitchen Floor Plans

Floor Plans

Moving the staircase to a more central location, near the home's entry, made room for an 8-x 10-foot deck accessible through French doors. A central island multiplied the space for food preparation and social gatherings.

Lessons From the Homeowners
"We wanted a light, airy kitchen, but we were determined to preserve the architectural integrity of this little Spanish casita. When you remodel the kitchen in a house of an earlier era, be prepared to do the footwork necessary to find the appropriate materials. If you don't, you’ll end up with a kitchen that's not in sync with the architecture of the home."

An old kitchen with flat wooden cabinets.

Kitchen #6

Before: Bold, Not Beautiful
At first glance, the intense blue tile, garish carpet, and prominently grained cabinets are the main offenders in this kitchen ... but the real problem was an inefficient layout that also squandered a fantastic view.

A kitchen with a corner sitting area.

After: Well-Suited

"I'm a family cook," says the homeowner and mother of three active boys, "and I wanted a kitchen that works for me every day." White appliances, birch cabinetry, and granite countertops are in sync with that spirit. Everyone's favorite spot? The banquette, where -- for now, at least -- this family of five can eat together.

The Details
Countertops: A butcher-block counter between the prep sink and range lets the homeowner wash, chop, and cook without ever dripping on the floor. Tumbled-marble tiles make up the backsplash; resin receptacle covers to match cost much less than marble ones.

Cabinets: Thirty-inch-deep cabinetry gives the standard refrigerator the appearance of a built-in. Partial-overlay doors on face-frame cabinets sport beaded board panels and satin nickel pulls and knobs.

The floorplan for a new kitchen with a seating area.

Floor Plans

Cut off from the living room by a wall and cabinets, the original kitchen was closed in and congested, whereas the adjacent eating area had space to spare. Removing a wall, gutting the kitchen, and relocating the dining area made way for an island, banquette, and hutch.

Before Kitchen

Kitchen #7

Before: Knot a Good Look
In spite of the knotty paneling, dark cabinets, and brown tile of the old kitchen and dining room, the new owners of this lakeside retreat sensed the potential for one open, organized space in which to cook and entertain.

Open Kitchen with Wood Cabinets

After: A Blissful Retreat

With walls removed and the ceiling raised, the space acquired the "bones" needed for a light-filled kitchen outfitted in materials chosen for durable, rather than trendy, appeal. Two sinks, two refrigerators (one in a base cabinet), and two separate ovens ensure flexibility and convenience for an avid cook.

The Details
Cabinets: Custom-made face-frame cabinets with partial-overlay doors and extra-deep crown molding show off the combined beauties of birch and red alder.

Workspace: A tiered peninsula with granite countertop and breakfast bar provides another work station closer to a gathering spot for guests.

Lighting: Remote-control skylights with shades admit or block light year-round and, when open, are a welcome means of releasing fierce summer heat.

Shelving: Angled display shelves facing outward help link the new dining area and expanded kitchen.

Before and After Kitchen Floor Plans

Floor Plans

The original kitchen consisted of a longish galley, interrupted by a short wall and the refrigerator. New plans called for an L-shaped layout, with part of the kitchen extending into the former dining room.

An all white 1950's style kitchen.

Kitchen #8

Before: From June Cleaver
As part of a whole-house remodel, the small kitchen in this 1950s rancher was in line for a makeover. It began by pushing out the sink wall toward the backyard.

A modern kitchen with teal cabinets and stainless steel accents.

After: To Top Chef

Clean, modern, and functional, the new space is the result of the architect's flexible design as well as the homeowners' dogged pursuit of just-right appliances, fixtures, and surfaces.

The Details
Lighting: Pendant lights are fitted with powder-coated gray metal shades; white enamel on the inside bounces the light.

Stainless steel: On the sinks, faucets, shelving, and the main countertops it is sleek and practical; the range with matching hood is a focal point as well.

Island: The solid-surface island countertop has the look of concrete but the stain resistance and easy care of resin-and-mineral composite materials.

Cabinets: Silvery moss green laminate cabinets with high-style handles reflect the homeowners' contemporary aesthetic. In the background is a wall of teal laminate cabinets, including a matching-panel refrigerator.

A floorplan for a kitchen.

Floor Plans

Eliminating the short wall between the kitchen and dining room and bumping out the latter in both directions turned the two spaces into a single larger one. To free up the sink wall for windows, the architect located a pantry and broom closet on the facing wall, behind cabinets, and moved the exterior door to the dining room.

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