What he did: To build in more breathing space, Manny expanded the room from 108 to 154 square feet by removing the desk wall, which was shared with a hallway, and moving the fridge wall to borrow some of the space used for a mechanicals closet. This created room for a granite-topped peninsula and 48-inch dual-fuel range. Removing the dropped ceiling raised the room's height to 8 feet. In went recessed light fixtures and an engineered-oak floor. Cherry cabinets and an earth-toned ceramic-tile backsplash give the kitchen needed warmth and color. Having the door to the former hall bath in the new space was a small price to pay for the kitchen's improved feel and function.
Toughest part: Repositioning the supporting wall, where the range now sits, while preserving enough space in the mechanicals closet.
Favorite finishing touch: Open shelves at the end of the peninsula add a nice vintage detail.
Timetable: Six months
Final budget: $35,000