Previous redos had left behind a room with a dysfunctional layout, which had the fridge off in a corner facing the back door—12 feet from the sink and 14 feet from the stove. The last redo, circa 1970, was poorly designed with lots of wasted space.
But Eileen and Greg, who met on a walking tour of old Boston, wanted more than a cosmetic improvement. Yes, they hankered for a better functioning kitchen where everyone could assemble, not only for meals but to take care of bills, school projects, hobbies, paperwork, and all the rest. But they also hoped for a more workable ground floor plan. Greg, a technical projects manager, liked the idea of an adjacent family room where he could hang out within earshot of the kitchen. This, plus a rethinking of the kitchen, could yield one multipurpose open space, where three people could work on separate projects—together. So they called in Martha Penzenik, an architect known in their Arlington, Massachusetts, neighborhood for her work on old houses.