Before and after: Kitchen Remodel from Family Room to Kitchen


Before: A U-Shaped Cramp

The 1920s Tudor was beautiful, but it had one problem: It was too cramped for a young couple with three children. Jamie Donner, who had moved from Manhattan to a Summit, NJ apartment, spent two years in the Summit house before becoming a cry uncle. She says that she fell in love with the house’s charm and the gorgeous yard. “But the kitchen was like an enclosed closet at the back. You couldn’t even see the backyard.”

Shown: The family room was created from the old kitchen. The U-shaped layout of the old kitchen was too cramped for five people and didn’t fit their taste.

Free-flowing Update

The Donners worked with an interior designer Magda Chiarella and architect Michael Chiarella to rework the first floor’s core. They swapped the location of the family room and kitchen, converted the former breakfast area into a wet-bar, and created a home office that was a butler’s pantry. A built-in desk was also added to the wet bar. It has a more open layout with cooking, serving, gathering, and areas for entertaining. The traditional house still looks great, but it is more casual. Piron says that the rift-cut oak plank cabinetry looks casual and contemporary. There are also traditional elements like the turned legs painted island.

Shown: In the new kitchen, rebuilt in the family room space, rift-sawn oak plank-style cabinets and a marble-topped island create a contemporary-traditional mix. The breakfast room was replaced by a wet bar.

Family Dining

Jamie says that it was worth having to move to the basement for almost nine months during construction, and to rely on an ad-hoc kitchen with hot plates. “We now spend 98 percent in the renovated spaces and can see the beautiful yard every day.

Pictured: A new breakfast nook with a window opens onto the backyard. It’s the main dining room for the entire family. (From left to right): Kevin Donner, Riley, Quinn, Quinn, Jamie Donner, and Duke.

Enjoy a View from Your Sink

The load-bearing wall of the sink island was opened to allow for seating and views outside. Support is provided by a beam above and millwork-covered posts.

Sleek Range

The white quartz countertops and backsplash enhance the sleek stainless-steel range. Deep drawers can be used to store pots and pans. The random-width planks of the rift-sawn oak fronts have perfect alignment.

Glass-Front Cabinets

Cabinet doors for the range wall have chicken wire enclosed in glass. This gives them a casual, clean look. The wire-brushed oak is stained to show the grain.

Coffee Station

The breakfast nook is served with a coffee station. The new wood casement windows feature flat muntins, which are similar to the existing metal windows. All lower cabinets have drawers.

Cocktail Staging

The wet bar is a place to host cocktails on the patio, which is just outside the back door. A built-in desk is available for recipe research or homework.

Open Shelving

Glassware is used as a focal point for open shelving in the wetbar, where the walls are covered with grasscloth wallpaper.

Island Storage

This furniture-like island features a warm brush-painted finish and turned legs. It also has cup pull hardware. Large serving pieces can be stored on the bottom shelf, which is made of slatted wood.

Before Floor Plans

The cooking area was located at the back of house in a U-shaped shape and was separate from the dining area.

After Floor Plans

The kitchen was rearranged to be more functional and open after the family room moved.

1. The former breakfast area was transformed into a wet-bar with access to the outside.

2. A cooking zone was created with the range wall, the center work island with a microwave, and the refrigerator.

3. A second island was added to hold the cleanup zone. It has a sink, dishwasher and seating for snacks.

4. Jamie says that he transformed a 12-by-6-foot corner into a family dining room, even when his grandparents are gone.

5. For large meals, connected the kitchen and formal dining room by a butler’s pantry (an old home office).