When Thomasene and husband Stephen Collins bought their ranch house they recognized the house's urgent need for renovation to suit their lifestyle. The original kitchen and dining areas suffered from a chopped-up floor plan, which, although large, still managed to be inefficient.
A Floor Plan Fix
Opening walls at both ends of the kitchen brightened the entire space. It also allowed convenient access to utility areas that had previously been closed off.
A Need for Easy Cleanup
Thomasene likes to maintain a "10-minute tidy-up" rule for her house, so she can get things company-ready in a flash. "I wanted everything to have a place," she says. "We entertain a lot and often spur of the moment, so I wanted to be able to clean it up quickly."
Plentiful storage was a priority for their renovation, but it needed to be right at hand. A new square island, which is table-height, provides a spot for homework, projects and dining, with storage built in to the cabinet base. Bookshelves hold cookbooks, textbooks and homework. Drawers hold table linens. An extra trash built into the table speeds Thomasene's cleanup and eliminates multiple trips back and forth to the kitchen trash.
Thomasene and Stephen worked together to place appliances in a thoughtful manner. "We went through our list of appliances," says Thomasene, "taking into consideration that we did want the kids to be able to reach the microwave, but not the knives and other dangerous elements."
A Charming Ceiling
Thomasene chose a warm wood paneled ceiling, which gleams with light from the newly brightened kitchen.
The mudroom connects visually with the kitchen by way of built-in cabinetry holding household files, charging stations and cleaning tools. Well-organized drawers corral the takeout menus and school communications that fill family life. A bank of cabinets disguises the inner workings of family life, including a corkboard installed behind a faux cabinet door.
A bench and hooks just inside the back door give children a place to drop shoes, jackets and backpacks. "The lockers for the kids greatly help with being able to clean up quickly for company," says Thomasene. "I specifically wanted doors on them so that they would always look neat — we just don't let the guests open them." Cubbies above and drawers below hold seasonal items. A pretty Oriental runner softens the space.
Beyond the mudroom, a desk built into a niche provides the family with a mission-control center, with a sense of peace and quiet conducive to work. Financial and household papers get filed away in file drawers. Son Clayton surfs the Web on the family laptop.
Sarah modified a drawer beneath the desktop to hold the printer close at hand without hogging valuable counter space. A dark paint scheme defines the desk area, and task lighting lets Thomasene take care of business after hours.