In 2009, just as architectural designer Chris Greenawalt and his wife, Danielle, completed remodeling their Seattle home, Danielle received word that she was heading to Boston for her job as a research scientist for a pharmaceutical company. They closed the door of their Washington home, handed over the keys, and drove cross-country to Massachusetts. The door they opened there presented another much-needed remodeling opportunity.
Before relocating to the second-floor, 950-square-foot unit in a traditional Boston brownstone, Chris (picture here with his and Danielle's now 14-month-old daughter, Chloe) worked at Pb Elemental Design in Seattle. The move offered him the perfect chance to launch his own firm, Bunker Workshop. Renovating his new kitchen was one of his first projects--and challenges. Photo by Kate McElwee.
The existing kitchen had been remodeled in the mid-1980s and "had been pretty hastily done," Chris says. The cabinet joints had started to fail by the time the Greenawalts moved in but worst of all, the layout, with the unit's entrance leading immediately into the wall next to where the fridge was, "made a really small apartment feel tiny," Chris says. "We wanted to take that wall down and open it up."
Chris's original design consisted of only the island, which houses two Fisher Paykel dish drawers as well as a 24-inch gas oven and cooktop and two under-counter fridges by De'Longhi. Danielle, however, urged him to create a framed kitchen area so the living room on one side (shown here in the background) and the dining room on the other wouldn't bleed into each other as a single space. "That's how the canopy was born," Chris says. In addition to semi-enclosing the kitchen with the lowered, painted ceiling and partial wall, the canopy hides structural elements and the Broan hood for the cooktop. Photo by Kate McElwee.
Chris removed the existing cabinets, microwave, oven, and stove from the cutout in the kitchen and filled it in with Ikea cabinets to create a flush wall that runs nearly the entire length of the public space.
Chris completed the project in April 2010, just six weeks after construction started, with the help of friends, families, and subcontractors (TT Hardwoods for the flooring; EPS Painting and Services for the drywall; DiCenso Electric, 617-953-0306, for the electrical work; and Hayes Plumbing and Heating, 781-630-2695, for the plumbing). The new layout and Chris's smart design allows the space to feel far larger than it is--and much more grandiose than its pre-renovation state. Among his maneuvers to open up the area, Chris moved the De'Longhi freezer into the island (hidden behind a panel) and inserted cabinets into the rest of the length. The far two cabinets rest on casters and slide out from under the countertop to create a bar area--to which Chris and Danielle pull up chairs for enjoying coffee. Chris then rolls the cabinets to his desk in the living room to create more surface space. Photo by Kate McElwee.
The element that makes the kitchen pop is the built-in spice row. "Typically every design I do is white so it's nice to have something that adds color," Chris says. He admits, however, that it's more for show than everyday use; "we've only used six of those spices," he says. As for what came first, the spice jars or the opening, the size of the gap was determined by the heights of the standard Ikea cabinets used. "From there it was a trial-and-error hunt for jars that would be as big as possible to fill the space but still be able to tilt out." Photo by Kate McElwee.
To access the spices and the cabinets above, Chris added a Putnan rolling library ladder he purchased at Restoration Resources, a Boston shop that offers used and vintage architectural artifacts. Though the ladder was originally too short for his purposes, jerry-rigging the hardware did the trick and a fresh coat of paint finished the job.Chris made the counter with a Trespa surface, which costs just $9 per square foot and was available in a large enough size to cover the six-foot-by-10-foot island without any seams. Chris cut the edges with a circular saw and the inside holes for the sink and cooktop with a jigsaw and finished the edges with the help of an orbital sander. Photo by Kate McElwee.
Chris painted the partial wall (above the Vigo Industries sink and Cifial faucet) in Rust-Oleum chalkboard paint. "It's kind of hokey," he says, "but I actually do use it." Most recently on the board: "bread", "OJ", "milk" (crossed off), and "mayonnaise" (crossed off). "It's convenient when we're cooking and run out of stuff. We write it down and then transfer it to the grocery list later," Chris says. Up next for Chris are a cottage project in Ontario, Canada, and a loft renovation in Boston. But with two of their own kitchen renovations completed within the past two years, the Greenawalts are now ready to rest and stay put in their own home and savor the results. Photo by Kate McElwee.