Like many young couples, Marcy and Jason saved and saved until they could afford their first home, a rowhouse in Del Ray. The house they bought had good bones, beautiful wood floors, classic features and was located on a charming street. But the kitchen was the victim of ’90s style. Not only was it not their taste, it was dingy and over 20 years past its prime.
Marcy and Jason are both architects (at Wnuk Spurlock and Cooper Carry respectively) and weren’t afraid to tackle this major first-time DIY project themselves. Their years of studying architecture and experience at work prepared them well for the job, and by doing this themselves, they could save a significant amount of money. Jason joked, “I think it’s some sort of rule that if you are an architect, you have to do at least one renovation on your own!”
Here’s another before shot of the kitchen — the laminate countertops and appliances were overdue for an upgrade and boost of modern style.
If you are familiar with the typical Del Ray rowhouse, you may notice the layout of the kitchen is a little different. In most cases, the exterior door is in the kitchen, creating the classic galley. The previous owner had swapped the door with a window and reconfigured the cabinets to create a more functional U-shaped kitchen. And in the dining room, the previous owner swapped the window for a glass-pane door with steps leading out to the garden.
One of their issues with the kitchen, however, is that when the previous owner swapped the door for the window, the owner installed a very small window, letting in very little natural light. It was also not sealed well and would trap condensation. This window is better suited for a basement!
Throughout this project, when Marcy and Jason were stumped about renovation tasks they consulted the Internet, coworkers, friends and family. But to widen the opening for the window, they decided to contract out the job.
Here’s the new window outside:
And a view of the entire back of the house, where you can see the outline of the original kitchen door and window on the left:
Another structural change was modifying and rerouting some duct work and removing the non load-bearing wall that separated the kitchen from the dining room. Removing the wall would give them more room for the fridge and a built-in pantry.
Next came electrical upgrades and then drywall. Fortunately they weren’t changing the blueprint of the room — just putting in new materials — so there was no need to move gas/water lines or anything too technical (relatively speaking of course).
And finally, you start to see it all come together when the new floor and cabinets, assembled by Jason, make their way in the room.
Marcy and Jason both have full-time jobs, so work could only be done on nights and weekends. In the end, the project took six months to complete.
Here they are in the home stretch, with the cabinets (they are white underneath the temporary blue protective film), countertops and most of the new stainless steel appliances installed.
And before the protective film on the cabinets can be removed, Jason and a friend meticulously install the mosaic-tiled backsplash, a refreshing shade of green.
Stay tuned tomorrow when we share the amazing after photos, supply lists and insight from Marcy and Jason on DIY. We’ll even point out important green elements, including how much of the old kitchen was recycled, and show a unique custom element Jason built from scratch.