In a traditional sense, one could make the case that the kitchen is one of the most utilitarian spaces in a house. It is, after all, a room with a straightforward purpose. It exists to store, prepare and serve food to occupants and guests.
However, when we shift beyond the practical concept of a “house,” which is a building where people live, to something more like the idea of a “home,” a welcoming place of comfort and togetherness, the purpose of the kitchen becomes much broader. It is a space where form and function truly come together. This is where design comes in.
Kitchen remodels are one of the most common upgrades people make to their homes. Each family has needs and preferences for how their kitchens should work.
Chrissy Serrano is a North Carolina-based home design and lifestyle blogger accustomed to making stylish design choices and sharing tips with her audience and followers of the Chrissy Marie Blog. When she and her husband moved to a larger home to accommodate their family of six, they loved the house but knew the kitchen would need some work.
“My husband might call me picky,” Serrano admits. “I know what I want in a kitchen, and I knew it was unlikely to find what I envisioned as my future kitchen in a house already on the mar- ket. When we were looking, we just assumed almost any house we would find would need at least some kind of kitchen renovation.”
Once the Serranos settled on a house, it was clear a major renovation was needed to achieve the kitchen the family was seeking. Even with her considerable expertise, Serrano knew she needed additional help.
“I have a good eye for design and I trust my taste, but I have no experience in kitchen remodels,” she says. “With an investment this large, I wanted to make sure any bold choices were done right. I wanted someone with experience and talent to give me some new ideas for the space, so
I hired Katie O’Neal Design to guide us through the process. I trusted her to take my aesthetics to the next level and make sure the kitchen functions in a way that would make for easy living for years to come.”
“Chrissy contacted me in summer of 2021 looking for design help,” recalls Katie O’Neal, owner of Katie O’Neal Design. “We completely renovated the entire first floor. All new electrical, flooring, enormous millwork, cabinetry and countertops. We carved out space from the dining room to add a scullery, renovated the powder room, opened walls up to create a more social floorplan, arched doorways and changed lighting. We also put in new appliances and plumbing and rebuilt three mantels. You name it and we reimagined it.”
“When we walked through the house for the very first time and I saw the four walls around this spacious kitchen, including the window wall between the living room and kitchen, we knew this would be a major undertaking,” Serrano says. “I liked the idea of some walls up around the kitchen but not completely closed off. The wall made the two living spaces feel disjointed, and the window looked incongruous and dated the home.”
Serrano and O’Neal decided immediately that the window wall had to go. It would take away storage and counter space but would open the kitchen to the living room. They did leave three walls up, so the kitchen wasn’t open to the entire downstairs.
“We didn’t want an open concept, just a better flow,” Serrano explains. “Our primary goal for this remodel was to lighten it up because the previous kitchen felt dark at all times of day, as well as to update for style and efficiency. I wanted to keep the charm and character the home already had and elevate it.”
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