These days, when so many people choose to transform or tear down postwar houses, the owners of this split-level in Chevy Chase, Maryland, bucked the trend. After almost 25 years in residence, they knew their kitchen had to be updated, but they wanted it to integrate well with the rest of the house. They found a kindred spirit in architect Dean Brenneman of Washington, D.C., who respected their wish and told them he'd make it look "as if it were done by the original architect — on his best day and with a good budget." He would not, he said, create a space that would look like an afterthought. The homeowners, both doctors, had longed to modernize the kitchen for years. But, like many busy couples juggling career and family responsibilities, they didn't get around to realizing the project until their children moved out. "It makes sense," says This Old House host Steve Thomas. "Raising kids is such a full-time job that most people can't imagine going through a six-month renovation — especially one that puts the heart of the house out of commission. But empty-nesters often start entertaining more, and this couple felt they were at a point where they could tolerate the upheaval."