Updating a Kitchen for Modern Needs

katlia kitchenBy David Lewis

Most homeowners consider the kitchen to be the heart of their home. The kitchen is where daily meals are prepared, stories are shared, and memories are made. Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas cookies, and birthday cakes all begin in the kitchen. When Paul and Mary Beth Erickson decided to remodel the kitchen in their 88-year-old Oak Park home, they weren’t exactly sure how they wanted it done. But Mary Beth, an avid baker, knew she wanted all the features necessary for baking cookies, pies, cakes and other goodies. Mary Beth and her daughter Becky enjoy baking together.

The Ericksons turned to Katlia Construction of Des Plaines to design and install their new galley-style kitchen. Katlia’s personnel offered a variety of design concepts and materials that provided the updates they wanted while maintaining the character of their older home.

The project began with the demolition of the original kitchen. As is common in older homes, surprises are often found when opening walls.

“We discovered that an addition to the home, probably installed in the 1960s, was hanging by a few screws,” says Mark Paulson, Katlia’s senior home remodeling advisor. “We quickly reinforced and reattached the addition bringing it up to code and making it secure.”

Once the room was stripped to the bare walls, the existing oak floors were leveled, sanded and refinished, providing a solid foundation on which to build the new kitchen. New, upgraded plumbing and electric were also installed at this time.

The primary visual focus of a kitchen is its cabinetry. The homeowners chose Kraft Maid maple wood cabinets with a cinnamon finish. The cabinets extend to the ceiling and are topped with matching crown moldings. Double glue chip glass in the cabinet doors looks period-correct. Adorning the cabinets are hardware from J.A. Cordova. The new cabinets provided desperately-needed additional storage space, a common request among today’s homeowners.

“Storage space is always at the top of the list when remodeling a kitchen in an older home,” says Paulson. “These days, people typically have more countertop appliances, dishes, and kitchen gadgets than their parents and grandparents did, so the need for storage space is much greater. Whenever possible, we take full advantage of empty space by filling it with additional cabinetry, but we are careful to blend the cabinetry into the design without overwhelming the room.”

In this kitchen, a lazy susan was installed and pull-out drawers provide easy access to pots and pans. In-cabinet vertical dividers for cookie sheets and other bakeware were also added. All the doors feature soft-close hardware.

The unique backsplash was created using tiles from Trans-Ceramica’s French Clay collection. The tiles are 4” x 12” in a gray fumé color and are installed in a classic subway pattern. The colorful decorative tiles above the range are from Motawi Tile Works.

Granite countertops remain popular in today’s modern kitchens. Thankfully, granite has come down in price, making it more affordable than ever. In the Ericksons’ kitchen, the wide, flat granite countertops with an eased edge provide the ideal surface for rolling dough.

The homeowners selected an Elkay stainless steel double bowl undermount sink and a Kohler Cruette pull-out faucet. Appliances are stainless steel. The Broan Elite 30 hood quickly removes cooking fumes from the kitchen and includes lighting for the cooking area. The new kitchen is illuminated with can lights in the ceiling, undercabinet task lighting, and two pendant lights above the breakfast bar. Natural light has been added to the room by relocating and enlarging an existing window, and by removing a section of the wall that opened the kitchen to the adjoining family room. When the construction was finished, the walls were treated to several coats of Sherwin-Williams “October Bounty” paint in a sunny yellow color that contrasts nicely with the cabinetry.

Most homes in the Oak Park area are Arts & Crafts, Bungalow, Craftsman or Prairie style. When it comes to choosing appropriate lighting fixtures, Joseph Galli, owner of Oak Park Home & Hardware, suggests focusing on at least one lighting product to help define the room’s style.

“Select fixtures that are a visual feature but are also functional in the kitchen,” he advises.

The entire project required about six weeks to complete, and the end result was well worth the wait. The Ericksons find that they are entertaining more often now that they have a fully-functional kitchen that looks as good as it works. One of Mary Beth’s favorite features is the new breakfast bar that doubles as a serving area when entertaining family and guests. Her other favorite feature? It’s the dishwasher.

“This is the first time I have had a dishwasher in twenty years!” she says.

As is typical with most home remodeling projects, the new kitchen has inspired the homeowners to make improvements to other rooms in their home. Next on the list is a remodeling of the master bedroom.

David Lewis is a publicist and writer based in Morton Grove, Illinois. Katlia Construction can be reached at www.Katlia.com.