Family-Focused Facelift

A topsy-turvy kitchen gets a makeover that’s kid- (and dog-) friendly

Story by Jamey Bradbury • Photography by Photo Arts by Janna

General Contractor
Trailboss Solutions, LLC
Interior Designer
Jana Seda, Trailboss Solutions, LLC
Marcus, Evoke Unreal Flooring by Kentwood
Grandview Cherry Door with Chocolate finish by KraftMaid
Formica Laminate 180FX in Antique Mascarello
Legacy Glass, 2x4 Bricked Mosaic in Mink, Orchid and Slate by American Olean
Portfolio flexible track with frosted glass lights, Lowe’s Range GE, Allen & Petersen
Range hood
Frigidaire, Allen & Petersen
Whirlpool, Allen & Petersen
Dishwasher Bosch, Allen & Petersen
Kitchen faucets
Kohler, Ferguson Enterprises
Kitchen sink
Swanstone, Ferguson Enterprises

It started with a dog door. A year after losing her husband, Michelle Myers needed a way to distract herself and her sons from their loss; a game do-it-yourselfer, she decided to tackle some home improvement projects. “My sons had lots of ideas, one of which was to put in a dog door where our refrigerator was, so our dogs could go outside to the dog run we’d built for them,” recalls Michelle.

“Of course, once we built the door, there was this space where we’d taken out a kitchen counter and, despite my best intentions, that spot in the wall didn’t get fixed for years.”

Next came the cabinets. “They were (made of) this really thin wood, and they were pink,” Michelle describes. A simple plan to repaint her kitchen cabinets quickly became more complicated as Michelle realized she first needed to strip her cabinets, then sand them. “We got the doors off all the cabinets, then lost interest in the project. The upside was my sons found it much easier to put the dishes away when the cabinets had no doors. But my kitchen was in complete disarray. It had become a reflection of how our whole lives had been turned upside-down.”

Then Michelle heard about Trailboss Solutions from a friend. “I had broad ideas for what I wanted,” says Michelle. “Darker woods, more modern. But I needed somebody else to pull it all together. Jana was great about getting to know me and my style, then figuring out how to make big changes with my budget.”

Interior designer Jana Seda took Michelle’s kitchen in a “cooler” direction, doing away with the cream-and-yellow color scheme in favor of taupes, grays and browns. Trailboss gutted the entire kitchen, then installed cabinets with partial overlay doors. “Since you’re not covering the whole face frame of the cabinet, it’s less wood, so you’re saving money,” says Jana. “We used a darker stain, which keeps the shadow lines of the doors from being obvious.”

A new island incorporates an idea Michelle adopted from a picture in a magazine: A foot bar – “I love that there’s a place to put your feet,” she says – a detail that keeps her sons from kicking the island.

With her sons showing more interest in cooking for themselves, Michelle also wanted to make the kitchen friendly to young chefs. A nook in the island for the microwave allows her younger son to warm up meals without having to climb onto a chair or reach overhead, while increased counter space provides different “stations” where both boys can pitch in during dinnertime chores.

Accents like a six-inch-high tile backsplash in black and gray added a bit of sparkle to the kitchen without breaking Michelle’s budget, while a laminate countertop “mimics natural stone in terms of color and texture,” says Jana. “But the laminate is more affordable and, if Michelle decides to upgrade one day, she can easily switch those countertops out for granite.”

But the family’s favorite feature might be the dog station. “Trailboss was great about creating a really natural-looking space for my dogs,” says Michelle. Where once there was simply a hole in the wall, there’s now a hinged door that Michelle can lock at night or latch open so her dogs can come and go as they please. The area, which is discreetly tucked away under an extension of the laminate countertop, also features another brainchild of Michelle’s son: a spigot that makes it easy to fill the dogs’ water bowl.

The transformation is so dramatic, there’s literally only one detail remaining from Michelle’s “old” kitchen: a motto stenciled over one doorway that reads: “The fondest memories are made when gathered around the table.” As the contractors worked their way closer and closer to the motto, Michelle wondered if they’d paint over it. Instead, they framed the words. “They ended up making it a lovely detail,” says Michelle. “The words have more meaning now because I try to encourage my kids to sit down for dinner together, so we can catch up despite our busy schedules.”

While once the kitchen represented lives turned upside-down, the room is now emblematic of the togetherness Michelle tries to foster in her kids. “We spend time in this room together over breakfast, everyone goes their separate ways during the day, then we’re back for dinner, in a fabulous new space we all helped to create.”