Kitchen and Family Room Create a Bright Open Space
Cristina Cerra loves her neighborhood but not so much with her 1970s split-level house. The kitchen was dark and dated. The family room was closed off and did not have a working fireplace. There was no mudroom or transitional area for the family of four to leave their belongings as they entered the house.
“It needed more than a Band-Aid; it needed a complete kitchen and family room renovation,” she says.
She and her husband, Michael, wanted a little more space, a lot more light and a better flow of movement around the first floor. The focus needed to be on the kitchen, the center of her family’s activity. Cristina consulted with her father, an architect, and gave serious thought to all of their options, including selling the house. They kept coming back to the same dilemma. They loved their Rocky Hill, N.J., neighborhood.
Should You Stay or Should You Go?
“When you buy a new house, you inherit new problems. We knew our home and were comfortable,” she explains. So they got to work on a plan and hired Dickson Development to bring their visions to life.
The main goal of the renovation was to create a more open living space that kept the couple’s children in plain sight from the kitchen. They wanted to open up a narrow space by adding an addition in the rear of the house that expanded the family room and kitchen. “They also included a mudroom that had access right from the garage,” explains Richard Dickson. His team took the plans and transformed the couple’s vision into a reality. The focus of the project was always on function first.
At the same time, the new kitchen features elegant white custom cabinetry and efficient and contemporary lighting and appliances. “Our first goal was always to bump out the back of the house and create a large open floor area. It was the best design we could have added,” she says.
“We also didn’t realize how important it was to have a mudroom until we had one.”
The mudroom, which features unique hooked shelves and a bench, offers a convenient entrance to the house directly off the driveway.
The focal point of the family room/kitchen area is a large island that also separates the cooking area from the living areas of the home. “We envisioned the kids doing their homework at the island as well as eating. We wanted it away from the cooking area to make it safer but also designed to allow the kids to feel they are with us,” notes Cristina.
A New Center for Family Activity
Like many families today, they use the island in lieu of a separate kitchen table. “We said you can’t go too big with the island!” says Cristina. “Trends come and go, but designing your space to fit your lifestyle is always a good idea.”
The bright new kitchen features:
- A support wall transformed into a decorative column with a peek-through shelf
- Light and airy Shaker aesthetic
- An open-concept layout
- White quartzite countertops
- A backsplash of ½-inch-high by 2-inch-long gray and white tiles
- Two Bosch ovens, on either side of the kitchen
- An extra-large cooktop area
“We were looking for a modern twist on a classic-looking kitchen with whimsical accents,” she adds.
Getting the Job Done
It was important for the family to find both a builder and an architect who understood their goals and Cristina’s vision, and who were committed to quality.
“The whole Dickson team was great, but I want to make sure to recognize the project foreman, Thom, as the unsung hero that he is,” she says. “He would play with the kids and the dog. Most of all, he was extremely responsible in his communication. He would keep us up to date and answer texts promptly.”
Cristina was also impressed that the job stayed pretty much on schedule, despite a couple of setbacks. During the renovation, some problems with the existing home became apparent. There was some existing water damage in one of the walls around the old fireplace chimney, a leak in the roof and more water damage in the floor of an upstairs bathroom.
“We were able to take care of these problems when we were doing the new construction,” says Richard. “It is not possible to anticipate everything you might encounter when you are working in an older home. We were able to determine the problems quickly and fix them.” And best of all, they stayed on schedule to minimize the disruption to the family.
Now that we have opened up the space, we can’t imagine the house any other way,” adds Christina.
Comfortable Family Room
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