A Kitchen Built for the Family(page 1 of 2)

A remodel turns a dated, cramped kitchen into a beautiful, functional space where kids are welcome.

The Fenech family turned their Tuscan kitchen into a kid-friendly cook's paradise. Mike (left), Ansley (front), Asher (on counter), and Alex Fenech (right) make cupcakes in their newly remodeled kitchen.

Alex and Mike Fenech have three passions in life: spending time with their kids, cooking, and spending time cooking with their kids. When the couple bought their 1970s ranch house in Dunwoody, Ga., in 2008, they loved the generous square footage of its existing kitchen but wanted to change its layout. Their goal was to use its space more efficiently, get rid of its dark, dated, Tuscan look and turn their kitchen into a kid-friendly cook's paradise.

Alex and Mike, both busy executives, balance their demanding professional lives by spending as much quality time as possible with their daughter, Ansley, and son, Asher. The family loves food and their favorite thing to cook is cupcakes. "The only way we can lure the kids away from their iTouch games is with cupcake time," Alex says. "Asher will jump up on the counter and work with me on the icing, while Ansley instantly becomes the Sprinkle Queen."


16 images from this kitchen remodel

After living in the house for more than a year, the Fenechs decided to take their kitchen into the 21st century, lightening it up with a transitional, family-friendly look and turning it into the kitchen of their dreams.

The Fenechs hired Dale Contant of Atlanta Design & Build, Marietta, Ga., to execute the renovation. The three-month, $100,000 project included:

  • Tripling the amount of counter space
  • Relocating all appliances (and upgrading them to commercial grade.)
  • Building three pantries: one for everyday foods, one for the kids and another strictly for baking ingredients
  • Creating custom bookshelves to house cookbooks
  • Integrating a microwave and warming drawer into the backside of a kitchen island to keep them out of sight
  • Installing recessed cans and new pendants for better lighting
  • Turning an old bay window into a dishwashing station
  • Moving walls to open up the floor plan
  • Leveling the kitchen floor
  • Adding more vents
  • Creating a mud room and powder room on the other side of the kitchen wall

To give the homeowners more space, Dale altered the room's existing layout, moving the appliances out of a corner and scattering them throughout the room into multiple task zones. "All the appliances were shoved into one corner and it had a small island where mail, homework and keys piled up," Alex says. "There was never any empty counter space." Dale installed a larger kitchen island with a warming drawer, pull-out trash bins and built-in bookshelves for cookbooks.

Dale and his team also turned the existing kitchen's bay window into a dishwashing station, transforming wasted space into a functional area and improving the room's flow. Dale took out the lower windows and installed black granite countertops and a stainless sink. There's now enough counter space to accommodate potted plants and herbs by the window.

The Fenechs worked with Dale to decide how much to spend on each element of the room, then agreed on a list of priorities. They splurged on commercial-grade, stainless steel appliances, marble and black granite counter tops, a pot filler, custom inset cabinets and a glass tile backsplash. The Fenechs bought their large appliances online, willing to take buy them sight unseen to save some money and time. "Shopping [online] saved a ton of time we would have otherwise spent driving all over town," Alex says. They bought the remaining elements, "hardware, a stainless steel microwave, pendant lights, window coverings and small appliances" locally.

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