Visiting a new kitchen project to tear apart, transform and put back together piece by piece is what I do, it’s what motivates me and it’s what I love to do.
However, doing the right thing long term for the client takes precedent over getting the job. Occasionally giving clients the best advice may mean not getting the project today but storing some good will hopefully for a day in the future. This is a story about doing the right thing. Transplanted from Atlanta to New Canaan into a “not forever” home, my clients wanted to invest money into giving the kitchen in their transitional house with a small kitchen a complete makeover that really didn’t make sense. No matter how much money you put into it , it was still small and wouldn’t be able to fit the amenities that people buying in New Canaan would want.
It would have been like putting leather in a Ford Escort. No bueno !
The kitchen wasn’t terrible it was just super small and likely anyone who would buy this house in the future would want to put an addition on. In a couple hours I gave her some advice about how to make a few affordable upgrades to live with it, the name of a painter and a handyman. I advised her that I thought this would help freshen up the space, live with it, make it more saleable when the time came and to save her money for their next home.
Several years later she reappeared, thanked me for the advice I had given her years ago and asked me to renovate the kitchen in their newly purchased home in New Canaan, a house they anticipated making “home” for years to come. Now it was time to tear apart, transform and put back a new kitchen back together piece by piece. Funny story…true story. When I met Jill for the first time at the new house to measure, I realized I had been there several years before when I was called to look at the kitchen of the previous owners. Things were looking very familiar.
I had to chuckle because good advice and doing the right thing is the gift that keeps on giving.
I had given the old owners similar advice except it was a different message. They wanted to do a minor facelift on a kitchen (code for…spend as little as possible) that needed to be completely gutted and anything short of that would be a complete waste of money. When a kitchen is that old, you price the house accordingly and let the new buyers get the kitchen they want with the money they saved on the sale, which is exactly what they did.
This kitchen was landlocked structurally next to a dining room that they wanted to keep as a dining room and an odd grade to the side property that had some massive stone cropping’s outside the house. They were quite pretty. Working within the perimeter I was able to achieve what Jill wanted. As empty nesters they travel, eat out frequently and they really didn’t need a huge kitchen. The kitchen was narrow and unable to fit a traditional size island. We found a narrow antique pine console piece to serve as an island which instantly gave the entire kitchen design instant charm and a lived-in personal feel. Jill had lovely taste and beautiful antiques from around the house. The finished kitchen fit right in when it was finished.
I found a clever way to sink the refrigerator and ovens into the wall opposite the sink and grabbed space from a back hall that you stepped down to that had a built-in bar and closets.
We were able to remove the bar area that they didn’t feel they’d used and gain that space for the kitchen. In the end we were able to salvage some of the space remaining in the bar area to make some floor to ceiling tall closets and still recess the refrigerator and ovens on the kitchen side.
Adding a banquette seat at the end of the kitchen overlooking their gorgeous property made it an “eat in kitchen” again incorporating another antique pine table. I think we nailed it.