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Last year, an old client contacted me about renovating the kitchen in her West Des Moines home. She is originally from Australia, and she and her husband have been in the process of transforming their outdated traditional 1980s house into a clean-lined, bright, and transitional home ever since they purchased it several years ago.
The existing kitchen was awkwardly shaped with an angled island. It was cramped and dark and lacked enough room for their dining table, which was pushed against the wall out of necessity. The traditional cherry cabinetry was as far from my client’s style as possible.
The pocket door on the left side of the kitchen leads from the mudroom, which we renovated in 2013 during our initial project together. The family uses the formal dining room as their den/office as well as a piano room. The sunroom faces out to their deck and lush backyard and was largely unused.
The “before” version of the kitchen wasn’t necessarily bad, but it had the potential to be far better. It also didn’t feel like the rest of the house, which had been mostly updated with a light gray and white palette and modern furniture and lighting fixtures.
After I took my initial measurements and analyzed the floor plan, it was immediately clear that the best option would involve opening the kitchen into the sunroom to create an eat-in dining space and infuse the entire space with sunlight from the south-facing windows.
We initially planned to completely remove the wall, but structural limitations prevented it. In the end, it worked out well as the header and wing walls define the dining area as its own space.
Our biggest challenge was finding the perfect place for the range top. The island is never my first choice for the range and hood, but in this case, it was a necessity if we wanted to eliminate the wall separating the kitchen from the sunroom. We eliminated the double oven and located a single oven under the range top on the island. The fridge, sink, and dishwasher remained in their original locations, and we had moved the microwave into the mudroom during our earlier renovation.
The result is very close to a galley style kitchen, which is incredibly efficient and functional. I was also able to create a drop zone across from the refrigerator, though my client is so tidy that the countertop is always clean.
My client hoped to create a more modern space reminiscent of Australian style kitchens like the one she had installed in her previous home. She sent me several inspiration photos that featured simple white slab cabinetry with white countertops. A skilled jewelry maker, she favors silver metals and cool hues, so I knew that we would be using polished nickel and light grays along with the white.
She wanted to keep her dining table as it was a special piece that they had custom made in Australia from indigenous wood. It fit perfectly in the space, and we also kept her existing chairs and added black cushions to tie into the black in her vintage rug and the cord on the pendant over the sink.
I selected a marble look white quartz countertop with beautiful veining. It is truly a showstopper in person. To bring out the gray in the countertop, I specified elongated light gray subway tile that has a handmade quality and slight waviness to add texture and depth to the backsplash. Hexagonal polished nickel knobs and cabinet pulls are the jewelry of the space.
I kept the light fixtures simple and understated to complement the rest of the design and added the woven wood window treatments for texture. Modern counter stools bring the warm wood from the dining table into the kitchen and contrast beautifully against the white island.
The end result is a complete transformation from dark, dated, and dysfunctional to light, bright, and efficient. I knew that removing the wall between the kitchen and sunroom would result in a more open and airy feeling space, but I was still astonished by just how much of a difference it made. My client now has unobstructed views to the backyard and a clear circulation path to the back deck, which they rarely used because it wasn’t connected to their main living spaces. The kitchen itself is incredibly well organized with all of the major functions within a few steps of each other. Best of all, my client has reported that her visiting family and friends have remarked on how “Australian” the updated kitchen now feels.
PS. That lovely bird print is actually a framed tea towel. You can find it here.
Are you interested in remodeling your kitchen and need help? Contact me today to begin the process