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That '70s House

This 1970’s home had all of the classic features from that time period, including avocado green wall-to-wall carpeting, dark kitchen cabinets, burnt-orange kitchen tiles and a dropped kitchen ceiling with fluorescent lights. Aside from the obvious much-needed finish updates, our clients wanted to maximize the function of the first floor spaces and allow for better flow between the kitchen and the adjoining rooms. Reconfiguring the space without blasting out all of the walls required some out-of-the box thinking to transform this inefficient and dark main floor into a functional and beautiful home.


Our clients loved the home, the beautiful surrounding yard and the neighborhood, but the home was long overdue for some updates. Since they were already committed to making the investment to remodel - they figured why not look into options for reconfiguring the existing first-floor spaces to make them work better for their family?

There was plenty of square footage in the home, but the home’s layout was choppy, with a family room that was fully closed off from the kitchen. The beautiful patio could only be reached via an exterior door off the family room. And the kitchen’s dark overhead cabinet layout effectively blocked all views into the eating area. 

They knew the current configuration was not using the home's space effectively. With a growing family and a love of entertaining, our clients envisioned a home that would accommodate large gatherings that could easily flow onto the back patio and the beautiful yard beyond.  

The Team

Designer:  Melissa Kennedy and Melanie Grabarkiewicz

Project Management:  The Meadowlark Project Team

Photography:  Sean Carter Photography


Schematic Design

Reconfiguring the space without blasting out all of the walls required creative thinking. Our designers quickly concluded that tweaking the existing kitchen layout and updating finishes just wasn’t going to work. First and foremost - how to open up the existing space and use it more effectively to meet the needs of the clients?

Our client's wish list included:

  • Work within existing footprint (no desire/budget to move major walls or make major structural changes)
  • Add more functionality and storage space
  • Provide access from kitchen to back patio 
  • Get rid of the "closed-concept" room configurations and have the rooms easily flow into one another
  • Add pantry storage in the kitchen
  • Create a more functional mudroom
  • Find solutions to help with the day-to-day family clutter
  • Create a kitchen space that would accommodate two cooks and allow for the family and friends to engage while the cooks "do their thing"

Design Development

By stealing space from the large living room and family room, our designers knew they could come up with solutions that would help our clients get the functions they needed. The existing living room was large and wasn't a room that was regularly used, thus losing some square footage wouldn't be missed. By doing this our designers were able to add a storage pantry to the kitchen and create a unique transition hall with custom bookcases that showcased leaded glass doors that were family heirlooms. Ditto for the large family room space - losing just a few square feet created the perfect drop-zone to manage the day-to-day clutter.

Design Solutions included:

  • Reconfiguring inefficient kitchen layout to a large galley style format with a "drop-zone" area and a new pantry space
  • The design of a long but narrow custom-built walnut breakfast bar to accommodate family/guests
  • A combination of natural soapstone, granite, walnut and white oak finishes were tied together with simple shaker-style white cabinets give this once dark and dingy space a modern facelift
  • Adding a wall of sliding glass doors along the back wall of the kitchen that open up to back patio and brings in loads of natural light
  • Reconfiguring the front entryway/living room to allow for additional storage pantry in kitchen and a unique front entry hallway with custom bookcases
  • A newly reconfigured mudroom with custom cabinetry easily manages all the sports/school/pet/outwear paraphernalia that comes with an active family
  • Widened and relocated passageways to create long site lines and a connection to family and dining rooms

The Results

This typical 1970’s home had loads of space, but the dark closed-concept aesthetic of the period just wasn’t working for the homeowners. The design team took this first floor from groovy to awesome without changing the footprint or moving any major walls. With innovative space planning and unique selections the designers made the inefficient rooms into beautiful and functional spaces.

Opening up the flow to adjoining first-floor rooms allows the owners to engage with their teenage children while still doing what they love – cook!  The wall of glass sliders along the back wall floods the kitchen with natural light, showcases the beautiful wooded lot and creates the perfect party space for large gatherings.

Our clients said it best with their review posted on a national home improvement photo media site: “The design that they came up with was innovative and highly functional.  We really couldn’t be happier with the finished product.”

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