When homeowners contact us about creating a bigger kitchen, we
almost always end up building an addition. That was the
expectation for this job, too, until we arrived at the 1970s
ranch and saw the large deck across the back of the house where
the kitchen is located — not to mention the landscaped
yard, steeply sloping site, and walkout basement. The client
— an avid cook — wanted more room, more storage,
and a better flow for frequent entertaining. Given the site
limitations, we quickly turned our efforts toward reconfiguring
the existing space rather than adding on.
During a previous remodel, the owners had removed the upper
portion of the walls around a staircase to the lower level.
While this created an inviting connection among the living
room, dining room, and entry, it left the kitchen feeling cut
off from the rest of the house. Compounding that sense of
isolation was a buffet bar and soffit between the kitchen and
dining room that separated the cook from her guests.
A 36-inch-deep hall closet (“before” photo) wasted
valuable space, so the author reframed it to accommodate new
cabinets and a refrigerator alcove in the kitchen while leaving
room for a bookcase and smaller coat closet in the hall
We began our room-stretching plan by demolishing the coat
closet next to the basement stairs and building a new, narrower
one farther down the hall. This lengthened the kitchen’s
footprint by about 3 feet and granted more direct access from
A long, 36-inch-deep hallway closet that the owners said they
no longer needed gave us even more space. We reframed it to
accommodate a built-in bookcase on the hallway side, which
still left 26 inches for the kitchen — plenty of room to
extend the cabinets and create a partial recess for the
refrigerator. Next to the refrigerator — behind the new
coat closet — we built a shallow pantry.
From left: Replacing a door with a double window made it
possible to extend the cabinets and counter into the dining
room. Three sets of French doors open the interior up to the
deck and backyard. Walnut cabinets tie together the dining and
Doors and Windows
To lengthen the working leg of the kitchen, we replaced the
sliding door with a second kitchen window; this allowed us to
continue the counter (and lower cabinets) along the exterior
wall toward the dining room. A peninsula provides a convenient
sitting area for guests.
Because the deck plays such an important role when this couple
entertains, we added a third opening in the dining room wall
and replaced the sliders with outswing French doors, maximizing
the interior’s connection to the backyard.
By eliminating the buffet and replacing a door with a
window, the author was able to lengthen the kitchen by 3 feet;
to add width, she stole space from a hall closet.
Tying It All Together
Finally, to unify the kitchen, dining, and living areas, we
replaced the original mixture of carpet and tile with bamboo
flooring and installed clear-finished vertical-grain fir doors
and trim throughout all three spaces. We also had the
cabinetmaker build two freestanding cabinets to match the new
walnut cabinetry in the kitchen.Kathie Maughan Francis owns Maughan Design, a design-build
remodeling company in Portland, Ore.