Enlarging Your Kitchen

Save money and expand your space by remodeling much of your kitchen yourself.

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By Bob Masullo
Sacramento Bee

Five years ago, Maureen and Dino Gilli were giving serious thought to moving from their 16-year-old home.

"It was too small and too dark, especially the kitchen," says Dino Gilli. "When we started looking around, though, and figured what we could have gotten for it and what a larger one would have cost, it just seemed to make more sense to stay put, remodel and enlarge."

Enlarge they did. With the work done largely by Gilli himself between the summer of 2002 and November 2004, the two-story, four-bedroom residence grew from 1,800 to 2,400 square feet. Gilli, a licensed contractor and owner of Custom Development of California, a window and siding firm, knows his way around construction tools and techniques.

The couple added space by moving the house's back wall, which faces south, 10 feet out into the back yard. So not only the kitchen but all rooms along the wall, both on the ground and second floors, gained space.

The kitchen almost doubled -- from 121 to 198 square feet -- and with its central location and many improvements has become the home's focal point.

Besides gaining floor space, the room also gained height. While the old kitchen had an 8-foot drop ceiling, the new one follows the slanting lines of the house and goes from 10 feet at the lowest point to 15 feet. Large windows in the newly visible upper reaches markedly brighten the kitchen and adjoining family room.

New kitchen features include a cork floor (which was also installed in the family and dining rooms), cherry-wood cabinets and pantry (built by Precision Cabinets of Antioch, Calif.), a work island with sink, black porcelain tops on the island and lower cabinets, spot lighting, a large Sub-Zero refrigerator, a small Sub-Zero refrigerator for vegetables and drinks (in the base of the island), a Wolf double oven with a warmer drawer, a DCS five-burner range top and a stainless-steel exhaust hood.

"I wanted the remodel to make a personal statement, and I think it does," says Maureen Gilli, a retired elementary-school art teacher and a still-active artist. "I like its clean lines and the additional space, which allows us to entertain so much more comfortably. The room it gives me to display my artwork is especially nice."

On the ground floor, the dining room, family room and Maureen Gilli's art studio are now larger, as are two bedrooms on the second floor. Two other changes were made on the ground floor: The fireplace in the living room (or, as the Gillis call it, the chat room) was redesigned with an artistic, asymmetrical facade, and a large cherry-wood entertainment center/bookcase in the same design as the kitchen cabinets was put in the family room.

Dino Gilli says the cost of the remodel came to about $140,000. He estimates the couple saved about $60,000 by doing most of the labor themselves.

"I'm very happy with the way it turned out," he says. "It makes me glad we didn't move. I really like all the additional space."

"Indeed," adds Maureen Gilli. "We gained enough living space so we'll never have to move. I just can't tell you how much we love living here now."

(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.)

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