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Remodeling the Kitchen of Modest 1933 Colonial

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Opening Kitchen to Outside

Opening A Modest Kitchen to Outside Makes It Feel & Act Larger

I’m starting a follow-on series today about how objectives can radically change kitchen remodeling decisions.  A few days ago, I wrote about planning a kitchen remodel
In my experience, kitchen remodeling is about lifestyle more than about kitchen details.  Homeowners often focus too soon on the details such as what type of appliances or cabinets to buy and fail to concentrate on the lifestyle they want.

This series will take 3 classic home configurations from the 1920’s through the 1940’s – the age of the homes that I most often work on – and will investigate how dramatically the “right” configuration depends upon the homeowner’s living style and objectives.  After we’ve looked at objectives we’ll also look at how budget factors in.

Today we’ll look at a modest center-hall colonial built in 1933 in Bethesda, MD — a close-in suburb of Washington, DC.  And we’ll look at how the remodel would change for 3 different homeowners and with different budgets.  Today we’ll look at a young family that does a lot of entertaining of their extended family.  In a few days we’ll look at the needs of a professional couple that spends many of their weekends traveling.  And a few days after that, we’ll look at a professional couple with teenage children and that does more formal entertaining for work.

Goal:  Informal Extended Family Get-Togethers With Many Cooks and Seamless Indoor/Outdoor Connection. The homeowners in this scenario are a young couple with 2 small children.  They both come from close families that grew up in the area and both have married siblings with young children that live nearby.  Their home is the most centrally located.  As a result, they host informal extended family gatherings almost weekly.  There are often 6-10 children in attendance.  They want a home that’s bullet-proof, that’s as comfortable when it’s the 4 of them or when there are 20 extended family members visiting for the day.  They also anticipate living here indefinitely.  So the home needs to work as well when the children are teenagers as it does now. Their wish-list also includes a powder room on the first floor.  This couple also wants to limit their budget and want lots of outdoor space for games and gathering.

Below is the existing floor plan.  As I said, it’s a quite modest home with a very small, inefficient kitchen cut off from both the dining room and kitchen.  The entire home is cut-off from the outdoor – as is common with houses of this age.

Modest Colonial Floor Plan - BEFORE

BEFORE - 1930's Modest Colonial Floor Plan

AFTER - Modest Colonial Floor Plan

AFTER - Modest Colonial Floor Plan

Here;s how we approached the house from the objectives of our first family:

Existing Footprint: To save money and to preserve outdoor play space we stayed within the existing footprint.  While it might feel small from today’s  standpoint, the greater openness, new circulation and new access to the outdoors lets the house live much larger than its square footage.

Create Foyer & Storage:  While our client didn’t emphasize the lack of a foyer, they definitely wanted a coat closet and a better sense of arrival.  By putting the powder room, coat closet and pantry at the front of the house, we created a new foyer area and separation of the arrival and living.

Open to Back: Across the back, are 4 door size openings of glass — 2 are doors and 2 are non-operable doors.  In the new dining area, we replaced a window with a new glass door, and we replaced a single smaller window with 2 larger windows that give good views to the back.  .

More Open Floor Plan: We also opened all the interior doorways to create a more open floor plan and longer views through the house.  By congregating the utilities up front, we got them out of the circulation path and allowed us to create much greater openness and circulation.

Small but Functional Kitchen: While the kitchen is small, it packs a lot into a small space and because it is open to the back, it feels and acts much larger.  The pantry — while also small — and full-height cabinet help isolate the powder room from the kitchen and provide a lot of very useful storage.

Patio or Deck in Back: A more extensive outdoor living area might be a phase 2 — but even with little additional landscaping the change in doors allows for multiple “garden” rooms in the back and side.  By putting a door off the new dining area and moving the door off the screen porch, we created a somewhat smaller and private courtyard framed by these 2 exterior walls.  This is in addition to the larger outdoor room off the back of the house.

Opening Kitchen to Outside

Opening A Modest Kitchen to Outside Makes It Feel & Act Larger

Modest Colonial - View from Front of Living Room

View from Front of Living Room: Connected with Kitchen, Dining & Outside

Pantry, Coat Closet & Full Height Cab Create Alcove for Powder Room

View from Back of Kitchen to Front: Pantry, Coat Closet & Full Height Cab Create Alcove for Powder Room

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About the Author

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I'm the owner and principal of Braitman Design/Build. We remodel older homes within the urban and close-in suburban areas of Washington, DC. In addition to our full service Design/Build Practice We welcome small design projects and small home improvement projects. And consult with homeowners across the country who want to design and manage the remodeling process themselves. Finally, my work is informed by my experience as an exhibiting sculptor and designer. I truly work at the intersection of art, architecture and design. Please see for yourself the extraordinary result when architecture, design and art are seamless parts of the whole. Please also visit my sculpture website: www.jackiebraitman.com

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