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Removing a few walls creates a new openness between a kitchen, dining room and family room in this makeover.

When Kristin Altendorf set out to renovate the kitchen in her Lake Drive Tudor, she knew the project would entail much more than a cosmetic face-lift. But she was undaunted.

“It was a pretty closed-in kitchen,” Altendorf says of the original floor plan. “I opened it up big time.”

With the help of Gabor Design Build in Germantown, Altendorf took down two walls: one between the kitchen and dining room and one between the family room and kitchen, converting a four-foot hallway into additional kitchen space.

The new layout created space for a kitchen island and cleared a view from the dining room at the front of the house into the family room at the back, allowing light, and traffic, to flow throughout.

The new concept is so open that visitors don’t even need to ring the doorbell to announce their arrival.

“The UPS man comes to the door and just waves to me in the kitchen,” Altendorf says.

Altendorf was looking for a neutral, clean look in the new kitchen. The space features crowd-pleasing white cabinetry, but it’s not lacking in color or character. Brown-gray quartz countertops and glazed crackle subway tile create contrast against the cabinets, and a black kitchen island is the room’s dramatic focal point, topped with a gold-flecked granite countertop. The concrete light fixture above the island is one of Altendorf ’s favorite finishes.

A decorative inlay that was already on the dining room floor also serves as a natural transition from the kitchen into the dining area.

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“It provides separation without a wall,” Altendorf says.

The remodel took months, but Altendorf feels it was worth the wait (and it was made easier by having a second kitchen in the basement, with two ovens of its own, which she used during construction). With six burners, two ovens and an open layout that encourages mingling, it’s now the perfect party space.

“I cook more now,” she says. “I didn’t like cooking before – I still don’t like cooking – but I love having everybody over and having this big island spread.”


Pro Tips

1) Call in the pros, but stay involved. Look for a reputable design-build firm that’s received accolades for its work, and be sure your aesthetics align. “At the end of the day, the design is really what people are going to see,” Gabor says. Even though your contractors will keep the project moving along, don’t hand over the reins completely. Gabor says it’s important for homeowners to stay involved all the way to the finish to ensure the end result is what they want.

2) Bring your own ideas to the table. “From my experience, everybody has some inherent design inspiration,” Gabor says. Plan to collaborate with the designer on the project. But don’t get married to a certain look or style. If logistics get in the way of your vision, your designer can help create a custom solution.

3) Be flexible. If your project presents a major design challenge, you may need to up your budget. Gabor warns not to take shortcuts – increase your budget if you can, and remember that a quality renovation pays for itself. “Homeowners will get that money back when they sell their home,” Gabor says.

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“Welcome Home!” appeared in the October 2018 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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