One way to know what's wrong with a kitchen is to live with it for a couple of years. A great way to fix it is to share your vision with an architect and a carpenter who have already created something similar—in the architect's own home. "That was my apprenticeship," says wood wizard Dave Michael, recalling his path from the vaulted kitchen of architect Jon Sarkesian to the one they built for David and Jennifer Dilley.
Shown: Jennifer and David Dilley, with Matthew, 3, gather in their bigger, brighter space.
Cabinets: Plato Woodwork
Prep sink: Native Trails.
Before: Cramped and Plain
The Royal Oak, Michigan, couple had worked with Sarkesian on the redo of a family-owned furniture store when they asked him to bump out their 1940s bungalow, enlarging its kitchen to suit a family of four. "They wanted to keep the scale cozy," says Sarkesian, who expanded the space—but not too much—with a light-channeling barrel-vaulted ceiling and an open plan.
Shown: The narrow kitchen was a walkway between the dining room and step-down family room.
Bright and Airy
The homeowners served as their own general contractor and had a hand in configuring the cabinets and marble-topped island. Says Jennifer, author of the snow-white-and-cherry-red scheme, "I always tell friends to wait before renovating. It gave us time to figure out what would work for us and the house, and got us exactly what we wanted."
Shown: The arc of the barrel vault echoes the top window. The leading in the antiqued-glass cabinet fronts incorporates more curves.
Window: Marvin Windows and Doors
Leaded glass: Merry Go Round Stained Glass
Sink and faucet: Rohl
Throwback Light Fixture
The pulley pendant adds a retro touch and reinforces other black and white accents.
Shown: Leaded-glass cabinet fronts—and sides—channel light in the sink area.
Pendant: Architects & Heroes Interiors.
Exaggerated details update the Shaker-style flat-panel cabinets.
Cabinets: Plato Woodwork.
Cohesive Black Accents
Wall ovens help frame the cooking alcove and provide a spot for a message board. Other black accents include the bronze-finished hardware, copper prep sink, and black-flecked hickory floor-boards.
Wall ovens: GE
Drinks and Barware Storage
The beverage station keeps barware and wine bottles in one place and sits conveniently next to the camouflaged fridge.
Bridge handles: Top Knobs
Wall paint: Benjamin Moore's Concord Ivory
Floor Plan: Before
The existing 88-square-foot galley kitchen was fine for a couple but not for a family.
Homeowner Tip: "If you decide to serve as your own general contractor, find an architect who has a strong working relationship with a builder. The better they communicate, the smoother the job." — David Dilley, Royal Oak, Mich.
Floor Plan: After
The back of the house was bumped out, allowing the kitchen to grow to 182 square feet and open onto a larger family room with a breakfast nook.
1. Bumped out the rear wall, extending the room while keeping its original width, and added a large arched window.
2. Opened the kitchen to the now-larger family room and a new breakfast nook while retaining the original step-down.
3. Flanked the cooking area with casement windows for more light and a sight line to the new screened porch.
4. Added a large island with a prep sink, cabinets, drawers, and open shelves.
5. Kept the fridge—read: cold beverages—in a spot that's easily reached from the dining room and breakfast nook.