top of page

Case Study : Architect, Karen Smuland's Personal Kitchen

Updated: Mar 20, 2019

Jack loves his new pull-out bin for food storage and hidden dishes that keep him from snacking between meals.

Last fall I had the privilege of photographing Architect, Karen Smuland’s renovation of her 1927 Tudor kitchen. She and her husband, Mark, purchased the home in 2014 when their two children were still living with them. The Smulands planned to remodel when the kids left for college but addressed aesthetics in the meantime to feel more comfortable in their space.

Karen took some time to share their renovation story with me.

Knowing you weren’t going to remodel until your kids were out of the home, what did you do to create a comfortable living space in the meantime?

"There was dark and dated red wallpaper covering what felt like every inch of the kitchen and an equally underwhelming floral pattern in the small living room and dining area. It made both spaces feel cramped and dark. Scraping the wallpaper off made an immediate difference. We replaced the cast-aluminum light fixtures (complete with candle bulbs) with modern, functional ones. The old, cracked countertop tile with blackened grout was replaced with large-format porcelain tile. By the time we painted the kitchen cabinets, the space was already considerably brighter and at least felt larger–though still impractical.

"By 2018, the refrigerator was icing up so much that we needed to regularly chip it out just to close the door! New models wouldn’t fit into the small space and the adjacent wall prevented full clearance for the refrigerator door. The kids had left home, so this was the final push we needed to begin the remodel."


How did the renovation impact your daily lives?

"We lived in the home during the entire 5+ months save for a few days during the demolition. We decided to replace most of the thin oak flooring on the main floor with new, white oak flooring to match the kitchen and maintain the flow of the space. As remodels go, the floor was so uneven that the sheathing also needed to be replaced.

"When we learned this was going to a major demo project, we left for 5 days and it was completed while we were gone. Our builder later told us he could look through the floor joists from above, down into the basement. Which also meant the dust and debris were shaken onto belongings we had put in the basement for safe-keeping during the remodel!

"We planned the remodel for spring and summer so we could grill and eat outdoors. We had a great temporary kitchen set-up with a microwave, toaster, coffeemaker and refrigerator–mainly for breakfasts. We ate out often and lunches were mostly re-heated dinner leftovers.

What wasn't working about the existing space and how did you approach the solution?

"With 4 years to experience the nuances of the original floor plan, we knew exactly what we wanted to do differently and how to approach a solution.

"It felt like there was more house than square footage to accommodate it. The kitchen was extremely small and completely closed off from the living room and dining area. The dining area was a tiny alcove in the living room that wouldn’t accommodate more than 4 people at a table barely large enough to hold a pizza. It was clear we simply lacked square footage so we went to work creating more.

"The first phase of the solution was opening the space by removing the wall between the kitchen and living room. Then, we gutted the existing kitchen and turned it into the dining room. We could finally fit a standard size dining table!

"With the groundwork laid for next steps, we were ready to design and build our new kitchen addition.

"The addition features a curved roof which creates an airy space and reflects the curves of the existing second floor dormer roofs. A new dining area is located in the former kitchen nook which is open to both the kitchen and living room. The curved roof is cantilevered on one end to create a covered roof over the new French doors. The doors open into a mudroom area off the kitchen with hooks, cubbies, bench and closet–all built-in to match the kitchen cabinets.

"We used white, modern cabinets to match existing trim color, modern bronze hardware to relate to traditional brass hardware elsewhere, and elongated hexagonal tile to relate to the pointed arch theme that recurs in the rest of the house."



Visit Karen's website:

77 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page