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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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