Capitalizing on Character

Published: September 6, 2019

For remodeling projects, older homes offer challenges and great potential for individual charm. Designer Kelley Irwin of Denton, Texas-based Irwin Construction experienced both when she and her team turned a 1920s Tudor home into a family-oriented space.

Establishing Goals
“True to the age of the home, much of the common areas were choppy in layout,” said Irwin, who co-works on remodeling projects with her husband Jeremy, a general contractor. “The house has so much character – from the diamond-pane windows in the front room to the dark wood paneling throughout – but the kitchen didn’t fit the stately elegance of the rest of the home.”

The original kitchen was laid out in a short galley and separated by a pony wall from the dining nook; both of these areas were separated by walls from the rest of the home. In addition, the kitchen had been redone at some point with green countertops and a brightly-colored backsplash – both of which were out of place.

“Our clients have a young family, and their main goal was to open the kitchen up to the surrounding rooms,” said the designer. “They also wanted to update the design to a blend of modern style and timeless sophistication.”

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In addition, the Irwins’ goals were to create a large bar area for the children to do homework and other tasks and increase the functionality and storage in the kitchen with custom cabinetry.

Conquering Challenges
The design team’s biggest issue was figuring out how to open up the galley floor plan to establish a more spacious kitchen. Their first solution was to knock out two walls and remove the hot water heater from the closet and relocate and replace it with a tankless unit under the stairs. The design team then reused that closet space for the refrigerator, which is at an angle next to a set of tall cabinets. This positioning allows room for a peninsula with bar seating between the working kitchen and the new dining area.

Another issue was the kitchen’s sole air-conditioning duct, which caused issues with temperature control. To solve this, Irwin installed vents at the far end of the kitchen and above the refrigerator and built a fur-down on the angled refrigerator wall to cover the ductwork.

“The new layout has a very unique shape that really maximizes the kitchen and dining space and invites the whole family in,” said Irwin.

Creating a Timeless Feel
For the style of the kitchen, the designer wanted to include original elements from the home while incorporating a contemporary look.

“In a historical house, an overly modern or trendy space doesn’t always honor the longevity of the home,” she said. “We purposefully looked at the whole house when making decisions about the kitchen.”

Some of the elements the design team kept from the original design were the three windows above the sink area, as well as the two windows to the right of the stove. Since the latter of these windows were longer vertically, they modified them to be the same height as those by the sink. This made room for base cabinetry here.

The original woodwork in the house was another feature the designer wanted to not only keep but also highlight. Everywhere in the house had original dark oak hardwood floors, with the exception of the kitchen, which had pine hardwood flooring. This was taken up, and new oak hardwood flooring was installed and stained to match the original hardwood.

In addition, the dining room had dark wood paneling that was original to the house and felt like a standout feature that worked well with the flooring. Irwin kept this and contrasted it with light paint and tile choices in the kitchen.

“Clean and timeless really was the main theme, including the white quartz and marble backsplash,” said Irwin.

Simple Shaker-style cabinetry in white contributes to the kitchen’s appeal, and the clients’ choice of marble backsplash adds a note of elegance to the space. Quartz countertops were chosen for their durability and stain resistance – an essential in a family home with children.

“Our favorite aspect of this kitchen was the challenge of breathing new life into a nearly 100-year-old home,” said Irwin. “We were thrilled to be a part of this design.”

Source List

Designer: Kelley Irwin, Irwin Construction Contractor: Jeremy Irwin, Irwin Construction Photographer: Darby Kate McFall Appliances: KitchenAid Barn Door: Farrow & Ball Barstools: Wisteria Cabinetry: Harden Cabinets Counters: Silestone Faucet: Kallista Hardware: Emtek Sconces: Schoolhouse Sink: Hardware Resource

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