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Remodeling with Tracy & Tony: Designer's Q & A


The new countertops go in!

Tracy and Tony are remodeling their 112-year-old Victorian home's kitchen. Tracy has already filled us in on the state of her kitchen before remodeling and the realities of renovating. In the third installment of Remodeling with Tracy and Tony, Dayna Waldman — the Smartrooms kitchen designer behind this remodel gives us her perspective on what to expect when remodeling, design tips for empty nesters and the remodel process for Tracy and Tony.


What design advice do you have for empty nester couples who are remodeling their kitchen?

The couple needs to think about their lifestyle; do they like to cook together? If so, maybe they need an additional sink or another prep area. Are they social and do they planning on entertaining? In this case, they may want to open the kitchen to the adjoining rooms.

Empty nester couples should also keep aging in place in mind. For example, make sure the cabinet hardware is easy to grasp. And aging in place can be done in style! There should and can be a balance between aesthetics and function. Function should be the first priority, and then the design can evolve from there.

What empty nester design components were included in Tracy and Tony's kitchen?

Tracy and Tony do enjoy entertaining and wanted to make more use of a dining room that was closed off from the kitchen. We enlarged the entrance to the dining room, allowing more light into the kitchen and making the dining room more inviting. We also added another sink for prep work so that while Tracy is cutting or chopping she can socialize with her guests seated at the counter.


What is one of the biggest considerations most homeowners overlook when remodeling? What was addressed in this remodel?

Many homeowners have an idea of what they want their kitchen to look like but overlook the reality of their actual kitchen's size constraints. You have to be realistic about what will fit in the space. 

They should also take into consideration their everyday lives and how they use the kitchen. If they are coffee aficionados, then they may want to include an area specifically designed for brewing coffee.

In Tracy and Tony's remodel we had a large but narrow space. I talked them out of an island because it would affect the traffic flow and inhibit the open feeling they were trying to achieve. 

They also wanted quite a few appliances but did not want them to be the focal point. For instance, we did not want the double ovens or the microwave to be on the run of cabinetry visible from the dining room.



 The new room configuration allows for a raised countertop bar with seating.

What was Tracy's wish list for her new kitchen and how did you approach adding these design elements?

Tracy wanted to incorporate an unused small breakfast area into her kitchen and also wanted to create a more inviting dining room. She wanted counter seating for at least four. She also mentioned that she and Tony like to read the newspapers in the kitchen. She wanted a separate bar area with an ice maker. She wanted good pantry storage. She wanted a contemporary design in a historically preserved home.

We stretched the kitchen into the breakfast nook area so that now when you are seated at the counter you can actually look out the windows. As I mentioned earlier, we opened up the dining room by making the entry much larger. We made the raised counter with seating extra deep so when they are reading the papers they can stretch out. We incorporated the bar facing into the dining room with a double access stainless steel cabinet with glass doors, wine refrigeration and an icemaker. The tandem pantry we chose automatically pulls the items in back to the forward of the cabinet so there are no lost food items in the back. We went with flat panel contemporary cabinets but used wood to maintain warmth. Also her very talented architectural team trimmed the kitchen in the same millwork that is in the rest of the house. As you can see, it really works!


What challenges did you face during the design and remodel and how did you address them?

As usual, space constraints created the biggest obstacle. Because Tracy and Tony love to entertain, they wanted a large refrigerator and various under-counter appliances. We wanted to accommodate those needs, but we didn't want their kitchen to look like an appliance store.

With the length of the kitchen, we were able to space out the appliances into the separate areas. We moved the double ovens to the other wall. We hid the microwave above the appliance garage.


What small touches can a homeowner add to their own kitchen design, as exemplified by Tracy and Tony's kitchen, that make a big visual or functional difference?

Frosted or opaque glass gives a light airy feel but still disguises the cabinet contents. Imagine the cabinets above with solid wood doors, that would make this kitchen feel top heavy. You always want the weight on the bottom.







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