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Relocating the Cookspace for a Bright, Functional Kitchen

Building a new kitchen in the old family room delivers the central, open-plan gathering place this couple and their kids longed for

Relocating the Cook Space

Photo by Helen Norman

Start rejiggering a home's layout and almost anything may seem possible‚ including swapping the locations of the family room and the kitchen. For Matt Totaro and his wife, Connie Eiseman, moving the kitchen was one of several improvements made during the remodel of their 1909 house, in Catonsville, Maryland. With two kids‚ joined later by a third‚ they craved an open eat-in kitchen situated at the center of the household. The existing family room presented just the right spot.

So, after a work crew gutted it, taking down a wall to annex a side porch as well, the couple worked with kitchen designer Steve Fair to finish one large space with an eating area at one end and plenty of room for entertaining. Today, traffic flows from the kitchen to the new family room (located where the old kitchen stood), skirting an island that delineates the cooking-and-cleanup zone. Pendant lights, soapstone counters, an apron sink with a wall-mount bridge faucet, and refinished pine flooring reinforce the home's period look. "Starting from scratch meant weeks without a place to cook," says Matt, "but the payoff is having an eat-in kitchen that really serves as the heart of our house."

Shown: Relocated to where the family room once stood, the new open-plan kitchen has plenty of room for family and friends.

Oven range: GE

Range hood: Kobe

Microwave: Frigidaire

Cramped Quarters

Photo by Helen Norman

Tucked at the back of the house, the existing kitchen was dated, with limited prep and storage space.

Go with the Flow

Photo by Helen Norman

Light and traffic flow freely through the new space, which gained windows and an eating nook when it absorbed a side porch.

Paint: Bonsai Tint; Sherwin-Williams

Lighting: Newcastle 15-inch pendants; Rejuvenation

Fridge: GE

Free-Flowing Light

Photo by Helen Norman

Glass shelves above a deep window sill invite in light while helping to screen the view of a neighbor's house.

Sink: Barclay Products

Faucet: American Standard

Modern Rustic

Photo by Helen Norman

Beadboard panels and a grayish-green stain add cottage charm to the island's maple cabinets.

Pro advice: "Inset cabinet doors can take exposed hinges, a detail that really adds character to a period-style kitchen."

—Steve Fair, Kitchen Designer, Columbia, Md.

Cabinets: Brighton Cabinetry

Knobs and pulls: Amerock

Rack 'Em Up

Photo by Helen Norman

A built-in wine rack occupies one of the island's recesses. It's deep enough to keep bottles tucked neatly inside.

Space-Saving Storage

Photo by Helen Norman

Undercabinet stemware storage is located near the sink. White subway tile gives the backsplash a clean look.

Stemware holder: IKEA

Tile: Florida Tile

The Center of Attention

Photo by Helen Norman

The island's top is 4-inch-thick end-grain maple butcher block. A dish towel hangs on an oversize bar pull.

Butcher block: Bally Block

Bar pull: Amerock

Kitchen Floor Plan: Before the Renovation

Illustration by Ian Worpole

Though a roomy 192 square feet, the kitchen was disjointed and dysfunctional. It became the new family room.

Kitchen Floor Plan: After the Renovation

Illustration by Ian Worpole

Building the new kitchen in the footprint of the old family room and side porch yielded smarter cooking and eating areas, plus better flow.

The new changes:

1. Framed an interior wall 8 inches inside the exterior wall to fit in plumbing and a deep window sill.

2. Tightened the work triangle by grouping the sink, range, and fridge in one corner.

3. Created dining space at one end by annexing a side porch.

4. Opened up to the new family room. With most of a wall down, the kitchen is a hub for cooking, dining, and hanging out.