An outdated kitchen grows into a gathering spot

"The back hall of the ground floor felt like some kind of strange carnival funhouse," said Kim. "Six doors led to a coat closet, half bath, basement, closed-off back porch, back stairs, and, finally, kitchen. It was a confusing disaster." Behind the kitchen were more doors — to another hall and to the backyard. "We wanted to clear up the confusion and create a larger kitchen, always the gathering place in our house," said Kim.

Stirling's design opened up the floor plan, which required removing the back stairs as high as the second floor (they remained to the attic). The new kitchen, larger by 180 square feet, featured a 7-foot island and a windowed breakfast corner. By moving a wall, Kim and Bruce were able to keep a pantry and a powder room on the first floor.

Once reachable only from the front hall, the living room was accessible directly from the kitchen as well. "It greatly improves the flow," said Stirling, who added a second set of French doors from the living room to the sunroom. That space will lose leaky jalousie windows in favor of double-hung units, turning it into a true four-season room. "Then it will really seem like an extension of the living room," said Stirling.
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