Renovation Through Reallocation

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A few simple moves improve flow and function in this Overland Park kitchen.

Story by Andrea Darr    |    Photography by Matt Kocourek

In some cases, a bigger kitchen is not always better. A few tweaks from a trained professional can make all the difference.

The owners of this mid-century split-level in Overland Park learned that reallocation is a simple trick to improving how a kitchen functions.

The avid cooks, who’ve lived in the home roughly 10 years, knew the space wasn’t fully working for them.

A few years ago, the couple tried their own hand at updating the kitchen by painting cabinets, buying new appliances and installing a walnut countertop as a warming accent.

“They were making due until they decided to do a full remodel,” says Jill Painter, CKD, owner of Bella Kitchens, who was called on to do the major overhaul.

After seeing Painter’s work in the previous year’s kitchen roundup issue of Kansas City Homes & Style, the couple checked out her website and decided Painter was a good fit for them.

After meeting with the clients, Painter understood that they wanted a space more in line with their mid-century modern aesthetic and simply more functional.

She immediately noted that the kitchen was a decent size but that all the main pieces were smashed on one side and none on the interior wall. Painter proposed switching around and spreading apart appliances to loosen things up.

“I believe every kitchen remodel benefits from relocating appliances, but it is a big change for the homeowners because they’re used to it being one way,” Painter says. “Once these homeowners got used to the idea, they got really excited to have more workspace.”

She moved the fridge to the interior wall, and the stove took its place. This opened up counter space next to the sink for the couple to prep food.

Painter ditched the couple’s regular microwave that had been sitting in an upper cabinet and installed an Advantium, which functions as a second oven, in the base cabinets near the fridge.

“I like to put the microwave and fridge near each other because the two tend to be used in tandem a lot,” Painter says.

Other tweaks to the design included a pull-out peg board cabinet for hanging utensils, a pull-out trash can with motor assist that you tap with your knee, LED tape lights hidden under cabinets and USB ports for charging electronics.

Painter had a new window installed behind the sink and lowered to counter level, which visually enlarges the space and adds a spot for potted herbs.

The floor plan has the kitchen slightly open to the dining room, so Painter removed a half wall and header and then tweaked trim details to make the transition between the two rooms more seamless.

She also altered the flooring between the kitchen and living room by stopping tile at the threshold and extending hardwoods in the living space to making the room seem larger.

Cosmetically, the space has cleaner lines that match the rest of the owners’ taste.

Playing off their desire for warm wood accents, Painter installed grain-matched walnut wall cabinets, as well as open shelves balanced on each side of the space. The base cabinets are rift cut white oak in a horizontal grain to add texture, and painted a rich blue-gray that Painter says offers “a unique chameleon color.”

The owners were inspired to use raw steel in the project, so Painter collaborated with a metal fabrication company to create a backsplash that gives unique character to the space plus added magnetic functionality.

Going for a mixed-metal look, Painter ordered brushed bronze cabinet pulls that read “goldish.” “They warm up the walnut and make a nice contrast to the slate-colored base cabinets,” Painter says.

Behind the stove, hand-painted tile adds a hint of pattern.

Painter says it was a challenge to incorporate and harmonize all the different elements because one thing affects another, but she enjoyed working with new materials and seeing how far creative attention to problems would take this space.

“This project has a lot of small details that add up to a big impact,” Painter says.


Kitchen Company: Bella Kitchens

Contractor: Jim Luke Construction

Countertops: Dimensional Stoneworks

Raw Steel Backsplash: KC Metal Worx

Plumbing Fixtures: Kitchens & Baths by Briggs

Backsplash Tile & Floor Tile: Sunderland Brothers Co.

Appliances: Factory Direct Appliance

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