Another challenge Talaat faced was how to better integrate the dining room—which was tacked on in the 1930s—with the rest of the house. His solution was to create a 9 1/2-foot-long columned half-wall, a classic Craftsman feature, that serves as a sideboard and pass-through. Flanked by passageways into the kitchen and the living room on either end, the built-in defines the space while opening up sight lines and letting in more natural light. Vaulting the ceiling in the dining room exposed its original beadboard ceiling and gave the space a soaring airiness. Wrapping a deck around the kitchen and dining room, accessed by French doors from both, further links the two rooms.

The 650-square-foot project took a little over a year and cost about $300,000. Leon thinks that Gustav Stickley, whose magazine The Craftsman in all likelihood published the design for their early-20th-century house, would approve of Talaat's 21st-century interpretation. "It's just the kind of elegant construction he favored," says Leon. "We went from the world's ugliest kitchen and dining room to the most beautiful."

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