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Room to Entertain
By Tracy Dickinson| Photography by Tim Abramowitz
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A remodel for all seasons that improves on tradition.

The annual clambake at Jonathan and Melinda Hansen’s house in West Des Moines is a summer tradition. But it was never easy packing two dozen people in a kitchen that barely seated four. Add a huge pot of steaming clams and a typical July night in Iowa, and the event was often hotter than the Hansens had anticipated.

“We’d all be crowded in here with steam in our faces,” laughs Melinda. “Finally we decided it was time for a bigger kitchen.”

The Hansens had seen multiple projects from Harrington Homes and were impressed with the company’s work.

“We knew Terry, and we’d seen other homes she’d done, so we just called her up and asked her to help,” Melinda says. The Hansens told her they wanted more space, a gas stove, and a room that was made for entertaining.

But the remodeled kitchen also had to fit with the home’s existing look.

“The Hansens faced the dilemma that many homeowners do,” explains Terry Harrington. “Their home’s trim was golden oak, and though they didn’t really like it, they didn’t want to replace or refinish trim in the entire home.”

Harrington brought in Alvin Stecker of Stecker Design Consultants, who saw the potential the home offered, and Andrea Singbush of Interiors by Andrea, who took Stecker’s design and interpreted the Hansens’ style to finish the space. Between them, Stecker, Singbush, and Harrington came up with an open, light-filled room that offers comfortable family dining and plenty of space for entertaining.

The focal point of the room, a dining alcove with a cathedral ceiling and floor-to-ceiling windows, overlooks the back and a new deck and stone patio.

“We already had the table,” Melinda says, “but we could never fully extend it because we just didn’t have the room.” Now the 8-foot table has a place of honor.

To bring the kitchen’s decor out of its ’80s rut and also solve the cabinetry dilemma, Harrington suggested a unique finish treatment. Swan Creek Cabinetry painted the pieces a rich yellow, then laid a chocolate stain over the top, giving the cabinets a soft, golden hue that complements the home’s existing woods as well as the new granite countertops and natural-stone backsplash.
“Terry asked a lot of questions about how we use the kitchen and what we wanted it to be,” adds Jonathan. “We didn’t have a specific plan in mind, but she and Alvin and Andrea took those conversations and gave us a kitchen we love.”

Singbush also helped the Hansens update the adjoining family room with new furniture and a new paint color, among other things. And the wood floors on the main level were refinished, so the new flooring flows unnoticed into the old.

“They just came up with a lot of little ideas that make a huge difference,” Jonathan says. Examples are the desk area with hidden shelves for cookbooks, a combination convection-microwave oven as well as a standard wall oven, and oversize storage areas in the cupboards for those massive clam pots.

Despite battling the rainiest spring and early summer in recent years, Harrington Homes had the addition, patio, deck, and new landscaping completed right on time for the annual clambake.

Some traditions just improve over the years.


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