The Results of Audience Participation in a Remodeling Project

Readers improve upon a project presented in the March issue

May 19, 2016

In my article in the March issue, I explored the plan shown below [A]. The family spent almost all of its time in the kitchen, eating area, and family room, and hardly any time in the formal dining room. The client wanted to update the kitchen, but was also open to reconfiguring the layout.

Our first option improved the work triangle by relocating the fridge and sink. We also closed off the small doorway to the stair, which added storage space but created a dead end at the closet.

Our second option converted the dining room to an office, closing it off from the kitchen and adding doors on the entry side. This allowed for an expanded kitchen, but completely did away with the formal dining area.

Instead of presenting a third option, I asked readers for their ideas. I’m pleased to present two that greatly improve the design. Thanks for the wonderful input.  

A: As-Built

The existing kitchen opens to the family room and is large enough to include a 48-inch range, an island, and a separate eating area. But the redundant connections to the central entry foyer steal too much space and confuse the flow of traffic. The two solutions proposed in our original article improved things considerably, but we felt there was more that could be done. The two reader ideas that follow [B & C] are big improvements.

B: Double Duty

Doug Walter, of Doug Walter Architects, in Denver—and a frequent contributor to Professional Remodeler—responded in an online comment. Doug improved on our second option by flipping the location of the cooktop and sink, which hides any mess at the sink and allows the cooktop—and the cook—to be on display while entertaining.

Doug also had the clever idea of making the front room into a dual-purpose dining room/office. As he put it, “The family will eat in the breakfast room every day and in the dining room twice a year.” Built-in cabinetry with file storage below and bookshelves above conceals any paperwork when the room is being used for dining, and the long counter is perfect for serving buffet-style. And the big table and built-ins make for great office space on the remaining 363 days!

C: Popular Pantry

An email response from JFD_ architect NCARB-LLC, in Ellicott City, Md., went all-in, enlarging the opening between the kitchen and the family room and incorporating the awkward space beside the stair into an amazing butler’s pantry that adds a second prep sink and introduces symmetry into a somewhat chaotic space. 

The email explained that the suggestions were prompted by recent requests from clients for open floor plans and butler’s pantry space—what serendipity that our project benefits from both.

One of the reasons we like to present three options to homeowners is that we find our clients often ask us to incorporate one or two elements from each option into a final design. In this case, with a few adjustments, I could easily see them asking for the elements from both Doug Walter and JFD. 

Send your design ideas to bmillholland@casedesign.com

About the Author


About the Author


Bill Millholland is executive vice president at Case Design/Remodeling, in the Washington, D.C., area, where his duties never stray too far from helping clients solve design problems. bmillholland@casedesign.com

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