'50s Kitchen Now Open for Cooking
When Christina Moore purchased her 1958 single-story ranch in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., she was determined to completely overhaul the kitchen. The 2,100 square-foot house appealed to her mostly for its three spacious bedrooms, open floor plan and abundant natural light. By contrast, its 12x8 foot kitchen was cramped and dark.
"With the exception of some white paint on the cabinets and travertine floors, the kitchen hadn’t been updated in 50 years," Christina says. With two active kids and an even more active husband, keeping the current space wasn't an option. Passionate about healthy cooking and staying fit, the busy mom already spent a good amount of time packing fresh ingredients into meals, mostly Italian dishes and salads, for her growing family, husband Jason, daughter Madeline, and son Dylan.
"Cooking is part of my DNA," Christina says. "My dad owned and operated a restaurant, and although my mom Liliane isn't the biggest fan of being in the kitchen, she comes over several nights a week to help." Since kitchen remodels are lengthy and messy, the family decided to move in to their home when the new space was complete.
In its original state, the U-shaped kitchen had all-white cabinetry, laminate countertops, white appliances and an inefficient breakfast area hemmed in by a pair of walls that created wasted space. "The walls made it really dark and uninviting," says Christina. "My kids would've been scared to eat in it and the last thing my husband wants is to come home to is dinner in a cramped, dark corner." Plus, the breakfast area was a waste of space, which was too small for the family to use.
Christina wanted to create a coastal feeling packed with accoutrements fit for the most enthusiastic of cooks. To execute the project, she hired custom homebuilder Marco Ciotti of Artistico Construction.
Christina wanted to keep the budget under $30,000. The original plan was to accomplish the kitchen's remodel in 12 weeks. Due to difficulties with permits, it quickly became clear that it would take much longer. Three to four weeks were spent finalizing drawings and getting permits approved for the kitchen remodel. "Although the delay in truly getting started felt like it was never-ending, it was much more bearable since we hadn't yet moved into the house," says Christina.
While waiting for permits to be approved by the city, Marco’s team began demolition of the existing kitchen to speed things up. In the meantime, Christina was able to tackle the minutia related to the cosmetic aspects of the project.
The busy mom toted her daughter, Madeline, around Design Center of the Americas picking out the decorative elements. "I had no idea it would take three days of shopping to find two light fixtures and barstools," says Christina. "With so many choices out there, and so much money invested in the remodel, it was really important to get all of these details right."
For the kitchen's lighting, she chose industrial-style polished nickel pendants that would be installed above the island. As far as seating was concerned, she kept with the coastal motif by choosing woven wicker counter stools with a grey finish.
Christina was originally interested in white marble countertops, but had a change of heart after hearing about the proper maintenance involved. "I'm a huge red wine lover, but after hearing how difficult it is to keep white marble stain-free, a kitchen filled with white marble countertops with red wine all around seemed like a very, very bad idea," says Christina.
In search of a backup countertop material, Christina accompanied Marco to slab showrooms where she set her sights on soapstone. The slab chosen was blue-grey and had veining with greens and oranges, which satisfied the coastal design. Unfortunately, it was $8,000. With only $4,500 budgeted for countertops, Christina became more open minded to other options.
While on a trip to Miami, she came across a unique species of granite that was slightly under her budget, including installation. "I definitely didn’t want that speckled granite that's everywhere," says Christina. "Both Jason and I were against that from the start, but this granite looks a lot more like other stones." To give the material a different spin, she decided on a leather finish. It had the look she wanted, and it could mask imperfections in case of accidents or spills.
With the countertops in production, Christina turned her focus to the kitchen's backsplash. At first, they were sold on a blue-grey glass mosaic tile for the backsplash. "It was cool, coastal and looked very high-end," says Christina. "But then, after realizing how it tied us into a blue-grey color scheme indefinitely, I kind of freaked. I admittedly have issues with color-related commitment; I think I get it from my mom, a huge beige enthusiast."
Concerned with making a choice that could become dated; she turned to a cost-effective classic, bone-colored, crackle-finished subway tile, an option that her mother, Liliane, enthusiastically endorsed. "While it looks just fine, it doesn’t really have a wow factor," Christina says. "It is kind of beige, my mom’s favorite color, so she's thrilled with it!"
In many ways, Christina thought her backsplash choice was the smartest in relation to longevity. However, she expressed her wish to have taken a leap of faith and done something a little less expected. The backsplash does allow other elements to take center stage: most notably, the high-end appliances.
From the start, the focus of Christina’s remodel was to create a functional place where she and Liliane could spend time together cooking meals for Jason, Madeline and Dylan. By sticking with her $4,500 budget for countertops, then saving more than $1,000 on her backsplash, she planned to splurge on high-end appliances.
Due to careful planning and sourcing, however, splurging wasn’t necessary. The appliances came to a total of $6,000. "We shopped at discount appliance warehouses and found the same exact things in showrooms for about 30% less in price," says Christina. "We picked up a stainless steel double-door, bottom-drawer freezer refrigerator, a stainless electric range, stainless hood, a wine chiller, stainless dishwasher and double wall-mounted oven for half of what we’d budgeted."
Since she saved on appliances, countertops and backsplash materials, Christina was able to spend the full $14,000 allotted for custom cabinets. Intent on making choices that would keep her coastal kitchen timeless, she opted for off-white, traditional-style cabinets with an antique finish.
"I don't think I have ever written a $14,000 check before in my life," says Christina. "That was really scary, and if I was going to spend that much on cabinets, they better never go out of style." To mix things up a bit, she decided on a different look for her kitchen island, covering it in blue-grey painted beadboard paneling.
With the project complete, Christina claims that the island is her favorite design element. It has become a meeting and gathering place for whatever is happening each day. The butcher block countertop is great for food prep. Trash and recycling bins are conveniently integrated, directly across from the sink, which makes it really easy to keep the kitchen clean. The front of the island has integrated wine storage. "We love that there's a place for everything," says Christina.
Contractor Marco agrees with Christina. "I love the leather finish of the countertops, because they're really different and unique," says Marco "Overall, I’m really impressed with how surprisingly affordable the countertops were. They look really high-end."
There are a few things Christina would do differently. "We only bought two pendants for above the island, originally thinking three would look too cramped; however, we were wrong," says Christina. "Three would have looked better and added a bit more light." In addition to this, she wishes she'd gone for a bit more color with her backsplash. She's keeping color alive throughout the space with bold, turquoise kitchen accessories that add a big impact without a major commitment.
With double ovens and plenty of prep space, Christina and Liliane have ample room to put together healthy, delicious dishes for the family. Their favorite dish to create in the new kitchen is baked ziti with meat sauce and a family-style salad complete with homemade Italian dressing.
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