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Sneak Peek: Brookline Kitchen Beams

Opening up the cook space means adding more support

General contractors Tom and Charlie Silva have lost count of the number of requests for open-plan kitchens they have heard over the years, and the current TOH renovation of a 1950s house in Brookline, MA, is no exception.

The homeowners want to open up the kitchen to adjacent spaces and enjoy a great-room-style area with their young family. Cue the beams. “Once you start taking down walls, you need to add structural support in other ways,” says Tom. He and Charlie enlisted the help of TOH master carpenter Norm Abram and the two latest Gen NEXT apprentices, Erick Ellison and Carly Comitino.

First, the apprentices built a wall to provide support while the work was being done. Then the team installed two 12-inch-thick, 16-foot-long laminated veneer lumber (LVL) beams, supported by two parallel strand lumber (PSL) columns at the ends. With this one key bit of work, the floor plan was transformed, and the new open-plan kitchen/dining area and adjacent living room (part of a new addition) started to take shape. It’s an instant change that never gets old, says Norm: “It’s always amazing to see what a difference it makes to take down even just one wall.”