Before and After Makeover: Family Kitchen with Wenge-Wood Cabinets

A 1950s ranch kitchen becomes the center of the home through a 21st-century remodel.


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BEFORE: Original Kitchen

    While the original kitchen was the perfect place for the homeowners' daughters to play and make a mess as children, the grown-up family needed a gathering place that reflected their current lifestyle. Cabinetry, appliances, and flooring were all replaced to leave the '50s behind.

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AFTER: Stylish and Functional Updated Kitchen

    The new expansive island is a snack and homework stop for the homeowners' daughters. A skylight and wide new window above the sink fill the room with light. The dark wenge veneer cabinets provide just enough storage for the family -- stopping them from hoarding anything unnecessary and the kitchen's layout allows enough room for a chef to work without tripping over others in the room.

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BEFORE: Kitchen Needed an Update

    The old kitchen was great for a growing family. Little ones could do art projects and make a mess. But it was time for the kitchen to change as the family's needs changed.

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Wenge-Wood Cabinets

    Beautiful wood cabinets don't have to cost a fortune. Wenge, an exotic African hardwood, makes a serious style statement. These cabinets, however, are actually wenge veneer -- not solid wood -- so they're not a budget breaker. This homeowner paid about a third more than typical solid wood, but a similar look can be achieved with stained white oak or American walnut.

    Here, a wet bar is conveniently located next to the island, making entertaining easy. Macassar ebony veneer on the backsplash pops against the wenge veneer used for the kitchen cabinetry, creating a sophisticated focal point.

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Custom Cabinets

    The homeowners tailored the cabinet design to their needs. Since all family members are tall, the designer used higher countertops and upward-opening cabinets. Creating more space for appliances allowed the designer to consolidate the cooking area, making the kitchen even more efficient.

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Secret Study Area

    When former mudroom space was merged with the kitchen, it became a spot to put a desk with the family computer. The homeowners love the convenience of a desk in the kitchen -- and the ability to hide it simply by shutting the doors.

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New Twist on Classic Materials

    The kitchen's sturdy palette is also organic. Cabinets and shelves are wenge veneer, and counters and backsplashes are alabaster marble. The long planes of horizontal-grain wood and thick stone surfaces help the room stay true to its original ranch style.

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BEFORE: A Cramped Kitchen

    Before the remodel, this kitchen felt confined and closed off from the rest of the house. The tired design left the room looking out-of-date, and the layout left no space for the homeowners' teenage daughters. It was time for the kitchen to enter its next generation.

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AFTER: A Family-Friendly Kitchen Layout

    By combining the former mudroom with the previous kitchen, the homeowners gained space for a study spot as well as room to mingle when they entertain. Updated appliances in a consolidated cook area make the kitchen much more welcoming, and a new door by the old breakfast nook opens the room up to the backyard.

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