By Lauren Kolazas
We bought our home 3.5 years ago and I thought we would renovate the kitchen within 6 months of moving in. Well, that was 3.5 years ago and for a variety of reasons we are just now getting to the renovation. I am so glad that we weren’t able to do the kitchen right away because the plan is completely different from what I wanted initially. The kitchen is the biggest problem area of our house though, so I’m thrilled that things are finally happening.
When we first moved in my kids were 1.5 and 3.5 and the home was twice the size of our previous townhouse. So it felt huge initially! But the kitchen, as you can see, was always lacking. Obviously, it needs a cosmetic face lift but in addition there is very little counter space, especially when cooking a large meal or putting food out when entertaining. The space is cramped and there is not an easy way to access the back yard. At first I was thrilled with all of the space and thought that just creating a peninsula between the kitchen and dining room and removing the wall separating the two would be sufficient to make it feel more spacious and open. Over time I began to realize that there were other problems that a peninsula could not solve.
So what changed? So many things. First, my kids got bigger and I could envision things being really tight in there as they get even bigger. Second, we like to have people over a lot. We have out of town family and so it’s great when they can come and visit but having just one or two more people in our kitchen makes it unbearable. Third, we love our neighborhood more than we expected to. I thought this would be a 5 year house initially but we really lucked out in the neighbor department. Our whole street has turned over in the last 5 years with 12 (YES TWELVE!!!!) young families on the block. Our kids have about 20 kids to play with right in our little cul-de-sac and we love all of the parents too. So, thinking about staying here longer than the original 5 years seems really appealing.
The end result was, if we needed a bigger kitchen, more counter space and want to stay in the home long term we need to add on to the house. Just doing the peninsula and taking down a wall would still cost a lot of money and eventually we knew it would feel too small and we would have to do it again or move. We wanted to give ourselves the option to stay here long term. So ultimately, we scrapped our original plans to just take down the wall between the dining room and kitchen and decided to add 8 feet onto the back.
This allows us to have many of the things we REALLY wanted in a home but just couldn’t make happen with the original foot print of our house. We wanted an island where the boys can eat and do homework. A BIG ISLAND. We wanted the space between the dining room and kitchen to be completely open so we can easily entertain in those spaces. We wanted a large window looking out onto the back yard with a big sink. I really wanted some built in cabinets that gave me a china cabinet feel in the kitchen. We also wanted a door to the back yard from the kitchen so dirty little feet are not trecking through our living room and we can easily get out to our patio & grill directly from the kitchen.
With the addition we are able to have everything we want! Yes, it has ended up being much more expensive (about twice as much) as the original kitchen plan would have been. But it’s going to increase the value of our home by at least what we will pay for the kitchen, give us many more options regarding whether we stay here or move down the road and we are going to really really enjoy it.
We took out a home equity line of credit to pay for the additional expense. This is a line of credit that is based upon how much equity you have in your home. Luckily for us the home values in our area have sky rocketed since we moved in so we were able to get a line of credit very easily. Also, the interest you pay is tax deductible if you use the money for home improvements which is all we will use it for. Yes, there are some who would wait and save cash to pay for the whole thing but that was too far off for us and this is the next best option.
The next step was finalizing the plan with an architect and then the really fun part - picking out the cabinets, countertops, flooring etc!! This whole process has been a dream come true for me! Stay tuned for more details on how the whole plan came together and what we did to survive a kitchen reno with kids.