Before & After: Rocky's No More Awkward Layout Kitchen

Before & After: Rocky's No More Awkward Layout Kitchen

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Name:
Rocky
Location:
West Orange, NJ
Division:
U.S. Owner
My room makeover::
An academic opportunity brought us from SF to the East Coast and instead of renting we figured that we would be better with a fixer upper. We found a house in the suburbs with a dated kitchen that had the most awkward layout. The floor also sloped towards the center of the house with about 4.5 inches difference from one end to the other.
Having watched too much HGTV (ha!), we thought of walls to tear down and how to reconfigure the space. However, we needed an architect to reign us in and tell us what lofty goals we could forego. We hired a contractor who worked patiently with us on issues and ways to keep costs down. We would often find ourselves in Home Depot or Ikea in search of materials and other creative ideas. The project took 2 months and we enjoyed the collaborative process with our contractor.
My makeover advice::
It's a cliche but it certainly remains true even in renovating your home: Stay true and be honest to yourself. Only you can know what your family truly needs in a space, how your home functions to support your current lifestyle, and what aesthetic energizes you. While it can be tempting to get swayed by highly curated design magazines, remember that they only serve to inspire. Let your instincts guide you on what feels right and be practical with what you can afford. Ikea, Home Depot, and Craigslist are your friends. Collaborate with your contractors and be reasonable if you want to step in and do some of the work. And also, do not insist on a feature just because of the cool factor.
What I love most about my new space::
After being without a proper kitchen for close to a year, it came to a point where having another Chinese takeout, Chipotle, or even Panera felt unhealthy. Now, we are able to really cook at home and have guests over from time to time. Much of our time is spent in the kitchen and we're glad that the space reflects how we live our life.

In reviewing our kitchen project here are the things that we love most:
- the Ikea cabinets that were skillfully made to look built-in
- the repurposed bottom portion of an old hutch that now serves as the island, storage, and work space
- the bright and open feeling with light flooding in
- the ample work space that can easily accommodate two people working at the same time
- the floors that are now level (yay!)
- and last, but not the least, the discreet toe kick heater that keeps our feet warm on cold mornings!
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