Who: Christine and Dominic Costa
Where: Royal Oak, Mich.
In long-haul DIY remodels, some projects get stuck in the slow lane. For Christine and Dominic Costa, it was their cramped cook space that languished. After redoing most of their 870-square-foot 1952 ranch, the couple waited three years to replenish their energy—and their wallets—before devising a plan to maximize storage in their kitchen without moving any walls. The couple started by tearing out everything, including a space-hogging soffit, which allowed them to run new doubled-up wall cabinets to the ceiling and add a tall pantry unit with built-in drawers. They sacrificed a base cabinet on one side to add a new dishwasher but gained it back on the other side with a smaller range. Open shelves, made of a hollow-core door, and a glossy white subway-tile backsplash lightened the look of all the new grayish-beige-painted cabinetry. When Christine couldn’t find molding she liked to trim out a vinyl replacement window, she made some herself. "I cut 1×3s to fit around the frame, beveled their edges, and coated them in bright white paint," she says. The only thing the pair left to the pros was the granite countertop installation. Working weekends in between Christine’s thesis writing (she’s a graduate student) and their full-time jobs, the project took just two months. Aside from meals shared in the space, the best part has been their family’s reaction. "My dad’s a carpenter, and he did a thorough inspection," says Christine. "Having him admire the painting, trim, and tilework was priceless."