Kitchen makeovers are a hot topic nowadays

December 10, 2005|By ROSE BENNETT GILBERT

Q: Our kitchen is really small. No work island and low ceilings, not quite 8 feet. We are budgeting for a makeover in the spring. Meanwhile, I'm trying to collect good ideas to discuss with our remodeler. So please share any tips you may have.

A: Better yet, we'll pick the brains of an inspired professional kitchen designer, Melissa Siebold of Canterbury Design, who reorganized and opened up the small kitchen we show here. It, too, had low ceilings and limited floor space, plus, it would have to serve two avid cooks who enjoy playing amateur chef together.

To gain actual square footage, Siebold opened up an adjacent laundry room and turned it into a butler's pantry, where she could install a second sink. Then she took out the original kitchen pantry and wall ovens, replacing them with a 4-foot-square peninsula that offers much-needed counter space and also houses the microwave-convection oven.


Most dramatic and inspired, the designer had the low (8-foot) ceiling peeled off to reveal the joists. Painted white with bead-board installed between the joists, the ceiling gains both visual height and the country character the homeowners wanted. More bead-board accents the cabinetry (by Wood-Mode), and more country flavor comes in the Gothic-arched window now installed over the original kitchen sink.

The palette is neutral and natural, with the white cabinets, 2-inch-thick honed marble countertops, and hardwood floors, over which that gleaming copper range hood casts a rich glow.

FYI, helpful hints and kitchen makeover how-tos are today's hot topic in home remodeling. Some of the many good sources you can check out for your idea collection include:, and

Q: My husband is lusting after a super-big TV screen. We'll have to make room for a new entertainment center in the family room, and I want something antique, like an armoire or large bookcase. Is it logical to try to fit one of the new TVs in an antique?

A: You have a lot of variables to factor in here and not just the size of some of the new and huge TVs, which can have screens from 30 to 42 inches. The weight of today's TVs is also a major consideration. Sets with flat and wide screen technology weigh far more than traditional TVs with the same size screen, warns Susan Dountas of Sauder, a manufacturer of ready-to-assemble home theaters and entertainment armoires.

Dountas cautions that it's "more important than ever before to know the weight limit of an entertainment center or television stand before you try to marry it to your new TV." That goes for antique pieces, too. Sauder offers a guide to choosing the right piece that may help you determine if your antique is up to the job: click on "Entertainment Furniture" at

Want to beautify your home and do a beautiful thing for others in the process?

Furnishings from the Alpha Workshops in New York City are showing up in show houses and decorating projects by top interior designers across the country, where they give a special glow to both the room and the homeowner.

Hand-screened wallpapers, decorative finishes and furniture, glorious fabrics and important accessories, handmade in the Alpha Workshops offer a helping hand to people living with HIV/AIDS. By teaching them the skills to make such decorative products, the workshop is providing life-saving jobs to the artisans, and remarkable, hand-made items for interior design projects.

Just one example: New York designer Jamie Drake, whose clients include Mayor Michael Bloomberg's several private homes, also used Alpha Workshops handcrafts in the refurbishment of historic Gracie Mansion in Manhattan.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the workshops are the brain- and heart-child of executive director Kenneth L. Wampler.

To see more home furnishings and learn how to acquire them for your own rooms, click on

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Hampton Style" and associate editor of Country Decorating Ideas. Please send your questions to her at Copley News Service, P.O. Box 120190, San Diego, CA 92112-0190, or online at

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