We recently completed a kitchen remodel on Banner Mountain for Margaret Boothby. The remodel also included updating the main public spaces of the home.

The ranch-style house was built in the 1960s and had the original kitchen with plywood cabinets, tile counters and linoleum flooring. There had been minor remodels over the years, but most of the home was original construction.

Margaret found us at the The Union Home and Garden show, where I had given a presentation, “The Seven Deadly Sins of Remodeling.” We worked well together planning the remodel and solving challenges along the way.

When I visited her home, the first thing I noticed was how narrow the entry was. The front door opened to a hallway, constrained by a half wall on one side, which separated the living room.

There was no room to meet and greet, instead you opened the door and walked backwards to allow guests to enter.

The second thing I noticed was the “popcorn ceiling” in the living room, entry and hallway.

This should be a red flag for homeowners and contractors. Many homes built before 1978 contain asbestos materials both inside and outside the structure.

Asbestos may be found in siding, floor tiles, roofing products, drywall and in acoustic ceiling texture, aka popcorn ceiling. I sent a sample to the lab for testing. The results indicated 10 percent chrystotile asbestos, which is a known carcinogen.

The bad news is that homeowners and contractors cannot safely remove asbestos ceilings without contaminating themselves and the home. The good news is that there are remediation companies that can safely remove the texture and/or drywall completely.

We removed the half walls that divided the living room, dining and entry. All three spaces would be united with a common floor surface creating a space for free flowing social activity.

A surprise came up when a small decorative post was discovered to have been holding up the roof. There was no pier in the crawlspace below and the subfloor had been slowly sagging under the load. Someone had taken out a bearing wall, but never put in a beam.

Since we wanted to unify the spaces, I designed a hidden beam to fit in the attic. We added posts into the existing walls and poured concrete piers beneath.

When homes have been remodeled several times, it’s good to have a contingency fund for hidden extras. These issues usually crop up in the first week when the framing and utilities are made visible.

The original windows had aluminum frames and offered poor insulation. Margaret told me she wouldn’t sit by the large living room window in the winter, due to the cold draft.

We replaced a total of four windows with Milguard vinyl-frame, insulated windows. We also installed a Milguard Tuscany Series French-Style Sliding Vinyl Door in the dining room.

The old fireplace had a woodstove insert, with a traditional flagstone surround from the 1960s. Like many of our clients, Margaret preferred a gas stove for warmth and as a convenient alternative heat source during power outages.

I suggested we raise the stove so it would broadcast heat more efficiently. We applied tile directly over the stone for a clean, understated look.

With the walls open, we installed wiring for a flat screen TV on the wall adjacent to the fireplace, so both are available for relaxation and viewing.

The new painted kitchen cabinets have plenty of storage, including a corner susan, a recycling center and rollout trays in base cabinets. The counters are Silestone Giallo Nova, which is complimented with a basket-weave tile backsplash.

The color palette was light tones and neutral colors; easy on the eyes.

Margaret requested an oversized single sink and we found a Rohl Allia which fit the bill perfectly. I really like the durability of fireclay sinks. Solid surfaces like Silestone allow us to undermount the sink for easy cleanup.

The lighting in the kitchen is very efficient with LED recessed lighting. Decorative pendants are hung over the raised peninsula cabinets, adding a spark of color.

We ran gas for a new stove with a microwave above. The large refrigerator with a freezer drawer and French doors above, is built into the cabinets.

The owner wanted to save custom oak wall cabinets on the other side of the dining room. We added painted base cabinets below with matching counter top to tie it all together. It’s great when you can save an important element in a remodel and have it fit into the new plan.

The plank vinyl flooring was installed throughout the kitchen, dining, entry and living room. It has become very popular in recent years. It’s impervious to water, and very resistant to damage from pets or wet, muddy shoes; perfect for foothill living.

The new kitchen has been in use during large family gatherings and is considered a success. The home is warm and inviting with an open layout and improved insulation.

The complex project took a total of three months, but the owner was able to stay in the home except during asbestos remediation. The 50-year-old home has a new lease on life for many decades to come.

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