Before: Lousy LayoutNew parents Jennifer and Kent Watson have tried to maximize their time and money in the updates they have made to their first home. But when it came to their asymmetrical kitchen, they decided they needed professional help to solve their layout dilemma. That's where host and designer Lauren Lake and her team of carpenters Jeff Devlin and Mark McGraw fit into the picture. They are anxious to pool their expertise to breathe new life (and balance) into the space.
This kitchen is cramped, inconvenient and pretty much closed off from the rest of the house. The orange-yellow faux finish on the walls is out of fashion and does not blend well with the modern stainless-steel appliances. Most of the cabinets, which are original to the house, do not have adequate storage space. Plus, some of them are hung too high for mom Jennifer to reach. The track lighting and bizarre hanging fixture are way outdated and do not provide enough light. The countertops are cluttered, the dark gray tiles make the floor look dirty, and there's a breakfast bar (at left) that's never used. That's because the wall above the bar has a pass-through opening that is the height of the ceiling of the downstairs room it overlooks. So if you are seated at the bar and stand up, you are looking straight at a wall.
Armed with a budget of $25,000 to $35,000, Lake lays out two options for the Watsons. The first entails spending the bulk of the money on closing up the dysfunctional opening into the family room and creating a new pass-through into the dining room that will also serve as prep and eating area. New cherry wood cabinets and warm granite countertops are included. Option 2 starts the same way, with opening up the room, but also includes installing custom off-white maple cabinets, high-end marble countertops and Brazilian mahogany floors. The Watsons select Option 1.