PHOTOS BY NICK’S PHOTO DESIGN
Even though Sandy and Joel Shilling made the most of the kitchen in their 1972 Montclair Portland home—successfully hosting Thanksgiving dinners and squeezing cookware into existing cabinets—the room needed an update. “It wasn’t that I wanted an entirely new kitchen,” Sandy says, “I just wasn’t getting along that well with the old one.”
The space felt shadowy and underlit despite a large skylight and windows with views of the backyard. Then there were the generic white tile countertops, a single small sink and a narrow aisle that became impassable when the dishwasher door was open. The kitchen lacked flow and style, especially for a couple that liked to spend time cooking together.
When it came time to choosing a firm to help remodel their space, the Shillings hired Square Deal Remodeling Company—the same folks who nearly two decades prior had redone the kitchen in another of the couple’s homes.
Square Deal president and founder Jim Kreipe, CR, CKD, was the designer and contractor for the Montclair kitchen. He began improving the room’s lighting by boosting the brightness around the existing skylight over the island. “We explored a lot of lighting solutions,” Kreipe says, “and ended up bridging the skylight with a custom fixture.”
Sandy liked the Steampunk style of the light which she repeated in the fixtures above the sink and table. “The kitchen is classic, but the lighting brings it more up to date,” she says. “The lighting gives the room an edge and makes it a little off center,” Kreipe added.
The Square Deal team also strategically relocated the ceiling’s canned lights to create glare-free ambient light. They drew attention to the room’s natural light by installing a four-panel window above the sink. “The repeating pattern breaks up the window while creating interest,” Kreipe says.
Working within the kitchen’s original footprint, Square Deal opened up the once-cramped space by removing a ceiling beam that divided the casual dining area/family room from the kitchen.
Sandy says the new island is her favorite feature. “Everyone wants to be right here.” Not only does the island have a vast surface area, Sandy can watch the evening news on the TV in the adjacent family room while cooking on the five-burner stove.
To help her decide on the color palate for the new island, Sandy wrapped the old one with black fabric. She liked the grounding effect of the dark color, so she chose cherry wood with a black stain for the island’s new cabinets. The color is repeated in the black granite countertops surrounding the main sink. The island surface is PentalQuartz “Gobi.”
Kreipe made the island extra functional by installing a range of pullout drawers on both sides. “Drawers are great because you can easily see what’s in there and the stuff comes to you,” he says.
Other new features in the kitchen include a second oven—where Joel can bake his Thanksgiving pies— and second sink. A bank of storage cabinets replaced the old pantry closet.
The project began in January 2012 and was completed just six months later. Most of that time was dedicated to planning. “Often it takes as much time to plan as to build,” Kreipe says.
In the end, not even unwanted surprises—including discovering that some of the original structural framing had been damaged years before—could derail this kitchen remodel.