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"I'm not sure what I was thinking," Aaron says now, with a laugh. "But with every house I remodeled, I saw the price of semicustom kitchen cabinets get 20 percent more expensive and the quality get worse. So I thought, I can do this.
Aaron created all his design drawings for the floor plans and the cabinetry in Adobe Illustrator, software he used extensively in his Web-design business; he exported his drawings for the addition into CAD (computer-aided design) software to send to a structural engineer, who specified a steel beam in the new kitchen ceiling to satisfy building and earthquake code. For the addition's foundation and framing, he hired contractors. Then he rolled up his sleeves.
Shown: To ease entertaining and channel natural light between the existing dining room and the new kitchen, the homeowner built a pass-through where an exterior wall once stood. Double doorways are located where two windows had been. The kitchen side of the pass-through holds a wet bar with refrigerator drawers and wine storage.