Kitchen Chronicles: I'm in Love With My Kitchen Makeover

HGTV Magazine features three homeowners who were lucky enough to see their dream kitchen come to life. See what they learned along the way.

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  • From Cramped to Cozy

    Noelle and Brad Otts of Austin, Texas, go to food festivals like some people go to concerts. They have an organic vegetable garden in their backyard and raise chickens (one rooster and 11 hens).Their original kitchen — a tiny space with such limited storage that Noelle kept the plates in the garage — was just not going to cut it. Over the course of three months, they scrapped what was there to create a larger chef's kitchen with a cozy vibe.

  • A Cottage for a Serious Chef

    The buttery yellow cabinets, screened pantry door (from and frilly ceramic hardware (Melon handles from pile on the charm. The countertop accessories, like an old metal box, add to the vintage vibe. The commercial-grade Viking range is not just for show — Noelle and Brad use all eight burners, the griddle and the two ovens almost daily.

  • Kid-Friendly

    Brad and Noelle kept a consistent, colorful look throughout the space by mimicking the yellow cabinet panels on their Sub-Zero refrigerator (all from The Otts’ kids, Cash, 6, and Maddie Rose, 3, join in the cooking fun, too, so some of the design choices — panel-front appliances instead of fingerprint-y stainless steel, dark gray grout instead of dirt-prone white — minimize the maintenance without sacrificing style.

  • Easy Access

    Collections of cookbooks and wine are perfect for open shelving. \"We thought about a wine fridge, but we didn’t want to lose valuable under-counter space — plus, we realized a wine fridge would cost more than the wine we drink,\" says Noelle.

  • Real Life With Concrete Counters

    Concrete was cheaper than the quote Brad and Noelle got for quartz, but \"we were surprised that the counters took 10 days to install. They were laid like a foundation, then sealed,\" says Noelle. It was worth the wait: They're easy to maintain with soap and water, and blemishes add to their character.

  • Dream Kitchens Come True

    \"Can you believe we lived here during the reno and cooked in the laundry room?\" says Noelle. Now the room cheers them up instead of bumming them out. \"This kitchen makes me even more excited about cooking and hosting dinner parties for friends,\" says Noelle. \"There's no other place I'd rather be.\"

  • Kitchen Castaway

    Marsha Pecaut and Bill Blok, a ship captain, bought their San Diego condo for its gorgeous ocean view. But (bummer alert!) they couldn’t see the water from the tiny kitchen, which had only one small window that didn't face the ocean. \"It had drop-down ceilings and was surrounded by walls — so depressing,\" says Marsha. \"We wanted something light and bright,\" says Marsha. \"We also wanted to incorporate our love of the water and boats.\"

  • Sailing to New Heights

    Internet research turned up designer Amy Meier, who helped Marsha and Bill connect the kitchen to the living room and infuse the space with subtle nautical touches. Brass ring pulls and cabinet handles from an actual boat hardware supplier ( are a bona fide nautical touch.

  • Light and Dark

    Amy steered Marsha toward absolute black granite (meaning no flecks at all) in a casual honed finish. A few carefully chosen dark accents, like inky blue paint, black countertops and black tile grout, look striking against all that white but don't make the room feel heavy. The columns are Old Navy by Benjamin Moore.

  • Super Sink

    Marsha and Bill made the move to San Diego from Oregon to spend more time with their twin grandchildren. An apron-front, dual-basin ceramic sink doubles as the perfect spot for bathing their grandbabies. When it's not bath time, the roomy sink makes washing piles of dishes a breeze.

  • Opened Up

    Fact: Fewer walls means more light! Marsha and Bill took down two walls, so all that's separating the kitchen and the sunny living room are an island and two columns, which they call the kitchen's \"masts.\" One is structural; the other is faked to conceal plumbing and electrical. Now that they're finished, Marsha says, \"We love that it’s big enough for both of us to cook — and dance — in.\" She calls the kitchen \"the epitome of fun.\"

  • Modern Makeover

    When Brooke and Blake Hortenstine bought their 1950s home in Dallas seven years ago, they agreed on one thing from the start: The cramped, dark red kitchen had to go. Immediately. \"The kitchen was too closed in and disorganized,\" says Brooke. \"Even though I grew up in a traditional house, my style is much more modern these days.\"

  • Room to Grow

    With the help of Domiteaux + Baggett Architects, the Hortenstines embarked on a renovation that sent them packing to Blake's parents' house for almost a year. The result: a sleek but warm room for their growing family (2-year-old Rollins will be a big brother this summer).

  • Efficient Kitchen

    The new kitchen is a model of efficient design: All the plumbing and appliances are along one wall and there's plenty of storage space. IKEA cabinetry, with its affordable price tag and customizable shelves, is a dream come true for organized bargain hunters.

  • Lighten Up

    Dark cabinets can go dreary, but Brooke brightened hers by pairing them with honey-color granite counters and a limestone mosaic tile backsplash. Brooke chose the pendants (from for their cool design and ambient light, but for function, she installed strategically placed ceiling cans and bright under-cabinet fluorescents. \"The room looks contemporary to me, but it still has a cozy, stay-awhile feel,\" says Brooke.

  • Center Island

    An ultra-long island (8 feet!) means the whole family can hang out: veggie chopping on one end and bill paying on the other. The island also has deep storage drawers. The leather-topped stools are cushy and easy to wipe clean.

  • Thoughtful Living

    When it came to designing her dream kitchen, she knew she wanted a streamlined look that was easy to navigate. The new space is just what Blake and Brooke, a self-professed \"neat freak,\" had envisioned. Not only is the style clean and simple, \"there's no place for clutter to find an accidental home around here,\" says Brooke.

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