Making the Plan

Homeowners Kim and Bruce started their kitchen overhaul where all This Old House homeowners start: with TOH general contractor Tom Silva and an architect — in this case David Stirling. Stirling, who designed the whole house renovation, came up with a plan to expand the 13-by-18-foot kitchen to 400 square feet. Then the homeowners asked kitchen designer Jeff Peavey, co-owner of The Kennebec Company, to work out the custom details.

When Peavey first met with the couple, four months before the finish date — a rush job, for sure — he asked them what they liked and didn't like about other kitchens. The couple brought magazine clippings and talked about layout, finishes, hardware, lighting, counters, appliance placement, and functionality. "Even if a homeowner only has some of his or her preferences in mind," says Peavey, "that can help direct the conversation and the choices presented to them from there on." The couple wanted furniture-grade cabinets and pro appliances in a place comfortable enough for both entertaining and intimate meals. "We?d never use a formal dining room," says Kim. "We usually end up around the kitchen table." Peavey looked for inspiration to kitchens installed at Colonial Williamsburg during its 1920s restoration, which had painted cabinets and large worktables.

As they talked, Peavey sketched out a rough floor plan on graph paper. It was this sketch that he then took back to the designers at his shop in Bath, Maine. Over the next four weeks, a crew of six designers worked on separate areas of the room, then combined their individual ideas to plan the full space. Their meetings produced a set of detailed pencil sketches, complete with elevations of each wall.

At the same time that they worked out the cabinet design, the designers and homeowners also chose appliances, countertops, lighting, and flooring, all decisions that have to be made in concert to keep the layout in order. It wasn?t until these details were sorted out that Peavey could make final blueprints.

Kennebec took exact measurements of the framed-in room and produced mechanical drawings. After a few minor adjustments, Peavey gave the final plans to the shop two weeks later, and cabinetmakers began to build Kim and Bruce's kitchen.
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