N.J. home makeover is a regular feature on NJ.com. To submit your renovation for consideration, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your full name, email address, phone number and town/city. Attach "before" and "after" photos of what you renovated.
As someone who loves to cook, being without a kitchen for nearly four months was one of the toughest things for Elizabeth Gabrielson to endure during renovation of her Upper Montclair home.
Then there was washing dishes in the bathtub -- on the second floor. And farming out family laundry -- including that of two toddlers -- to kind friends and neighbors.
"We couldn't go down into the basement," she said, explaining that areas of the house needed to be closed off with plastic to help control the spread of dirt and dust. "I got to know my neighbors, and some kind friends would deliver (clean laundry) to our door."
Cooking in a slow-cooker generated too many dishes with the requisite slicing and dicing. So with much of the project taking place during summer months, she and her husband, Ross, began to rely on the grill, the microwave, take-out dinners and restaurant meals.
For all the challenges, there was an upside to living with the dust and dirt of a renovation. She was always on hand to prevent installation errors, answer questions and make decisions. And she learned things about her home she might never have known otherwise. The kitchen had five layers of flooring, for instance.
"It was so interesting, it was just a piece of history," she said.
The dated doorways were removed along with the flooring, and the updated kitchen and dining room now have oak flooring stained to match floors in the rest of the house.
The goal of the project was to renovate a dated kitchen and formal dining room to become an open-floor-plan kitchen and dining area that would better suit the needs of a growing family. Walls were removed or reduced in size, and a walk-in coat closet was absorbed in the process. The space was reconfigured for efficiency and to add a mudroom and pantry area near a new back entry door that replaced a side entry. The new glass door, enhanced with sidelight windows also allows more light into the renovated area.
The Gabrielsons chose Benjamin Moore's Intense White with a hint of gray, to complement white cabinetry, black granite counters and satin brass hardware, which Elizabeth Gabrielson wanted to play a key role in the design. To avoid competition from too much stainless steel, the refrigerator and every other appliance beyond the BlueStar range is tucked behind cabinetry panels.
An expansive peninsula that houses cabinetry and a 14-inch Summit wine cooler replaced a wall between the kitchen and dining room. Draped by a taller wooden waterfall-style bar seating area built from three slabs of black walnut lumber, it is the new dividing line between kitchen and dining room.
"I wanted to be able to see all the wood grain," she said of the bar. "It gives some warmth with all the white."
While she selected a commercial-grade range in Pennsylvania-made BlueStar, she said the 36-inch, six-burner model offered a significant savings over comparable luxury brands. The mix of appliance brands includes Fisher & Paykel, Miele and General Electric.
The consistent lines of white cabinetry would give a roomier appearance to their small kitchen, she said. She also wanted to avoid visual competition while highlighting the satin brass hardware and black features such as the Blanco sink. "My countertops are 'absolute black' granite, and it matches them seamlessly," she said.
The 1928 house with its eclectic architectural mix of Tudor, Colonial and Arts and Crafts features, has arched doorways that enhance the newly updated kitchen and dining room.
Gabrielson is pleased with the overall aesthetic of the renovated space. "The kitchen is trendy and contemporary, yet classic and traditional," she says. "It boasts unique hardware and fixture choices in satin brass, which are striking against an otherwise black and white space."
At the project's end, she also was overjoyed to return to cooking in a new kitchen. "I've gained 10 pounds since the kitchen went in," she says with a laugh. "I am making up for lost time. I've been cooking and eating and entertaining and doing what I love to do."What they renovated
The kitchen and dining room of a 2,723-square-foot house with four bedrooms, three full bathrooms and two half bathrooms.Who did the work
Keil Design & Construction of MontclairHow long it took
About four months, from July 5 to Oct. 20, 2016What they spent
$90,000Where they splurged
"Unfortunately, most of the 'splurging' was behind the scenes for plumbing work and demolition of walls, Elizabeth Gabrielson said. Other splurges included the custom walnut bar, the glass backsplash tiles, an instant hot tank, and a reverse osmosis water filtration systemHow they saved
"We bought fixtures online at discount retailers, found an affordable hand-made dining table from Etsy, used factory-made cabinets, and chose reasonably priced appliances that still fit the look we desired," Elizabeth Gabrielson said.What they like most
We love the bar counter dividing the kitchen and dining spaces and also the functionality of a new back door entrance. The space flows very nicely.What they'd have done differently
Move out during renovation!
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