Removing a wall and applying new countertops are easy to do conceptually. Such work often implies that you need to replace perfectly usable cabinetry, but as this project illustrates, that's not necessarily the case.
Open Up the Kitchen
Half of the kitchen in this small house in a coastal community was perfectly good (with stock cabinets less than 10 years old), but the kitchen itself was closed in by four walls with a small opening to the living and dining areas of the house.
The first step was to double the width of the opening, connecting the place where people like to spend the most time — the kitchen — with the informal living area.
Things that are expensive to move (the stove, sink, and window) were left as they were, whereas the refrigerator (easy to move) was transferred from one side to the other.
By maintaining all the existing cabinetry and simply replicating that cabinetry with new that more or less matches, and by capping old and new cabinetry with new stone countertops that double the counter surface, the kitchen was completely reinvented without changing half of its contents.
There are over 80 million single family homes in America, and it's estimated that in 2011, 18 million of these were underwater, meaning with a mortgage larger than the value of the house.
Millions of families feel trapped, living a life of domestic frustration in homes that do not work for them, while being unable to move to solve the problems they confront on a daily basis.
The benefits of concise, appropriate remodeling where you live now, independent of market conditions, can include improved convenience and lifestyle satisfaction, better looks, and a reduced environment impact, since improving an existing house is almost always greener than building new from scratch.
This series in ArchitectureWeek, and the book Staying Put that it's drawn from, offer tangible hope for getting the home you want from the house you have right now.
Each of these projects is a select example of the great and affordable outcomes that can be created, when a good architect and a good client team up together.
Architect Duo Dickinson runs his own practice in Madison, Connecticut. In over 30 years of professional practice, he has built more than 600 projects across the United States, with budgets ranging from $3,000 to $5 million. Dickinson has written seven books, including The Small House, Expressive Details, and The House You Build. He is a contributing writer for Money magazine, the architecture critic for the New Haven Register, and a contributing writer for New Haven magazine. He has also taught at Yale University, Roger Williams College, and the Harvard Graduate School of Design summer program.