A Finely Finished Result

With the project completed, the Smiths now have a bright, well- tailored kitchen, sun filled during the day and well lighted at night, with vastly expanded storage and counter space. The room went from 175 square feet to nearly 400, with close to 40 linear feet of counters instead of the original 3. Crisply detailed white cabinetry — finished with glass knobs, brushed-nickel pulls, and divided-light glass doors — lends period elegance to the room. Concealed within the four banks of storage cabinets are many welcome features, including cupboards big enough to hide a toaster and a coffeemaker, pull-out shelving, and endless drawers for every item imaginable. Substantial appliances complement the graceful cabinetry, balancing brawn and beauty. The refrigerator, warming drawer, and dishwasher are concealed behind cabinet panels; the stove and microwave are stainless steel.

In the breakfast area, a table large enough to fit the entire family and then some dominates the space. And for times when the table seems too formal or far away for snacks and coloring books, a couple of stools sit at the ready by the peninsula that divides the kitchen from the breakfast area. Even with all these features installed, the kitchen still has enough square footage to allow Heidi to cook, Mike to clean up, and the triplets to do their homework all at the same time. That's a far cry from the days of the parents eating on the floor with the kids crowded around a small cafe table.

Despite the luxury of this full-service kitchen, the project can't really be appreciated without understanding the math behind it. Landmark figures that in the real world this job — from planning to completion — would have taken at least another three months. And although the Smiths parted company with about $115,000 — far more than the original $70,000 budget — such a project would normally have cost in the $230,000 range. As an exhausted but happy Mike said on the final day of shooting, "I guess that's why they call it the Dream Kitchen."
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