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Bright, Charming Space: After

Photo by Susan Seubert

Tight quarters can really cramp your entertaining style. That's why Tim and Wendy Hogan, who love hosting a crowd, were eager to open up—and brighten up—the dark kitchen in their Portland, Oregon, home. The DIYers gutted the room within days of getting the keys to the bite-size 1926 bungalow, salvaging only the stove. "The layout was awkward and the kitchen was closed off from the dining and living areas," says Wendy. Busting out a dividing wall created airiness and elbow room without altering the footprint.

Once the shallow, worn-out cabinets had been scrapped, Tim got busy building new ones of his own design, giving the stacked uppers seeded-glass doors at the very top. Then he addressed the tricky task of spray-painting the cabinets in Wendy's favorite sun-drenched shade, a built-in pick-me-up in their rainy Pacific Northwest locale. Pine floors and a cherry butcher-block-island top lend more warmth. Aluminum casters allow the island to go from prep surface to serving station to suit any bash the couple may host. "It's not a big house," says Tim, "but the new open concept makes it easy to get everyone together."

Shown: Custom cabinetry, an apron-front sink, and clever details deliver a high-functioning space with farmhouse charm.

Cabinet paint: SW6695 Midday, Sherwin Williams

Dark and Outdated: Before

Drab stained-plywood cupboards closed in the kitchen.

Original Pine Floors

Photo by Susan Seubert

A Douglas fir beam takes the place of a load-bearing wall. The couple tore up three layers of linoleum to reveal the old-growth-pine floors underneath.

Dishwasher: Sears

Perfect Fit Appliances

Photo by Susan Seubert

A custom cabinet gives the refrigerator a sleek, built-in look. Colorful paintings by Wendy Hogan add a bright, original touch.

Pendant: Lowe's

Refrigerator: The Home Depot

Central Prep Station

Photo by Susan Seubert

Linseed oil, brushed over the island's cherry edge-grain butcher-block top, brings out the wood's natural color.

Island paint: 780F-7 Stealth Jet, Behr

Convenient Cookware Storage

Photo by Susan Seubert

Tim Hogan designed and built the plywood cabinet boxes with poplar face frames. The lower units are fitted with drawers, including extra-deep ones along the bottom to store pots and pans.

Bin pulls: The Home Depot

Functional Details

Photo by Susan Seubert

To keep fresh herbs on hand, Tim installed a 6-inch-deep windowsill supported by curved brackets on the sink wall—perfect for plants.

Pull-down faucet: Moen

Sink and shelf brackets: IKEA

Tile: U.S Ceramic available at The Home Depot

Dynamic Duo

Photo by Susan Seubert

Four-inch aluminum casters make the handmade island portable, so the duo can shift it around as needed during dinner parties.

Wheels: Coolcasters.com

Floor Plan Before: Walled-In

Illustration by Ian Worpole

A makeshift layout hampered the tight kitchen while a wall closed it off, isolating the cook.

Homeowner Tip: "When spray-painting cabinets, be sure the surface is very clean and dust-free, and use Flotrol, an additive that thins the paint and prevents drips." —Tim Hogan, Portland, OR

Floor Plan After: Welcoming Space

Illustration by Ian Worpole

Losing a wall and reconfiguring appliance placement turned the same footprint into an open-plan, party-ready space.

1. Moved the fridge—it had blocked the flow of traffic into the next room—alongside the range, which was shifted over.

2. Tore down a wall between the dining room and kitchen and added a beam for support.

3. Added a movable 2-by-4-foot island for extra prep and storage space.

4. Installed a new dishwasher next to the sink to replace the nonworking model that sat across the room.

5. Replaced an L-shaped cabinet run with one that extends into the seating area.