An Illinois family plan their perfect kitchen
Having been handed the opportunity to build their dream kitchen with help from This Old House (on national television, no less), Heidi and Mike Smith realized that their plans were were going to be driven as much by their needs as by their desires. Their existing long, narrow galley kitchen was too cramped to serve the couple and their 5-year-old triplets. After only a year in the 1928 Tudor Revival, Heidi was ready to move if the situation didn't get better. "Mike didn't know, but I was starting to look at other houses," she says.
When viewers of NBC's Today show chose the Smiths as the lucky homeowners in the This Old House Dream Kitchen search last November, all thoughts of re-
location disappeared. Within days, the Smiths had four preliminary plans from architect John Krasnodebski and designer-builder Kristine Boyaris, the husband-and-wife partners of the design/build firm Lake Forest Landmark Development. Over dining room table meetings and friendly glasses of wine, the couples, with some help from the crew of This Old House, hammered out a design that provided the family with all of the necessities — and a few extras.
A computer-generated 3-D drawing brings to life the plan for the Smiths' dream kitchen — the current This Old House TV project.
Conceiving the Plan
"More than anything, we wanted more space and a place for us all to sit down and eat together," says Heidi. To enlarge the kitchen and create a breakfast room, they had to annex an unused — and architecturally inappropriate — greenhouse. This also meant re-locating a powder room and figuring out where to put it.
At the Smiths' request, the preliminary plans confined everything to the footprint of the old kitchen, putting the powder room into a section of hallway that held pantry shelving. The crew from This Old House suggested that they think outside the box, literally. So Krasnodebski figured out how to build a new half-bath off the main hall and turn the old pantry area into work space with a wet bar on one side and a desk on the other.
The Smiths gained considerable counter space this way, but they were still eager for an island. After much measuring and calculating, the design team suggested a peninsula instead. "No matter how we figured it, the galley-style kitchen would have needed another foot for an island," explains Boyaris. Aside from providing the needed work space and seating, a peninsula would also delineate the breakfast area from the kitchen and still allow Heidi to keep an eye on the children while she cooks.
Finally, and maybe most important, came the issue of storage. "I buy in bulk now," says Heidi. "And as the kids grow, it's only going to get worse." So the designers made sure to include lots of cabinets — some full height, some with glass fronts, and most with shallow shelves lining the backs of the doors for pantrylike storage. The result: a fivefold increase in storage space.
With the practical needs addressed, Heidi and Mike focused on their wish list. The couple wanted to be sure that the renovated kitchen would blend seamlessly with the rest of the house. The team drew inspiration from elevations of the original cabinetry in the 1928 plans, choosing white inset-panel cabinets, which would not only suit the period but make the long, narrow space feel more open.
Heidi thought a lot about how she would use the space. "I love to cook, and I like to categorize things," she says. So Krasnodebski and Boyaris created distinct work areas. "I have a place for cooking, one for washing dishes, and one for planning meals and paying bills," says Heidi. "All the things I need for each of those tasks are centered around that particular area."
The Smiths also chose a few luxury items, such as a wine fridge, a bar sink, a warming drawer, and a high-speed oven with convection, microwave, and broiling functions. They also decided to replace the splintering wood floors with prefinished engineered oak flooring. They designated several types of task and accent lights, from puck to strip to rope, to be used in conjunction with period-appropriate overhead fixtures, all of them wired to a programmable switch.
In record time Heidi and Mike had the plans and materials lists in hand, and the construction crew from Landmark was ready to start. With just three months for the builders to finish the kitchen, the crew jumped into the work almost immediately.
Where to Find It
Lake Forest Landmark Development
Lake Forest, IL
Vinnata faucet by Kohler Co.
in #8816 in brushed nickel;
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