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A Kitchen For Life
By Tracy Dickinson | Photography by Tim Abramowitz
home :: home & garden :: featured remodels

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Remodeling breathes new life into this Ankeny home.

Bill and Cindy McDermott didn’t buy their home because of the kitchen. They bought it in spite of the kitchen.

“The house was built in 1968,” Cindy says, “and most of the kitchen was original when we bought it a few years ago.”

The white tile counters, sticky golden oak cupboards, and worn appliances were cosmetically unappealing, but it was the configuration that bothered the McDermotts most.

Cindy says, “The kitchen was old and worn, and it just didn’t flow well. You couldn’t even get to the back door with the dishwasher open, and it was just cramped.”

A neighbor had used Woodharbor of Des Moines for a smaller kitchen project and spoke highly of the company, so the McDermotts contacted Cheryl and Greg Arganbright, the owners of Woodharbor.

“Within 10 minutes Greg nailed everything we’d been thinking,” Cindy says. “He saw the problems and he knew exactly how to fix them.”

Greg recommended moving the outside wall back 2 feet and reconfiguring the garage entry and half bathroom to use the space more efficiently.

Designer Debra Dorn handled the project for Woodharbor, taking Arganbright’s plan and putting it into a design that perfectly suited the McDermotts’ life and taste. The finished space not only expanded the kitchen and gave the room the improved traffic flow the McDermotts were seeking, but the new layout better suits a busy family.

“The original rooms had some really odd angles,” the designer explains, “and there was no dedicated entry at the back.”

Now the McDermotts have a gorgeous mudroom with built-in lockers and a stone tile floor, which cleans up well but handles the frequent traffic with ease. In the mudroom and now separate laundry room, Dorn chose wainscoted cabinetry and had it painted a Mississippi sage.

The half bath was moved to what used to be the open laundry area. Its creamy cabinetry is similar to that in the new kitchen.

“We didn’t want everything to be exactly the same all the way through,” says Cindy. “But we still wanted it to look like it belonged together.”

Woodharbor achieved that by using complementary finishes and trims and the same pocket doors between rooms.

The completed kitchen is everything the McDermotts were hoping for, clearly reflecting their eclectic, cottage style. A mix of light and dark surfaces adds interest and gives the room a cozy feel. Dark granite countertops provide a contrast to the Coastal White cabinetry with its coffee glaze, and wide, painted baseboards accent the hickory plank floor. A furniture-look island with black cabinetry offers work space, storage, and dining in the center of the room.

To break up the long cabinet wall, Dorn designed a slight bump-out and furniture-style base below the stove top, as well as a tall workstation cupboard at one end. This provides the McDermotts with a place to charge cell phones and tuck away paperwork behind closed doors. And Dorn surprised the family by having the doors painted in magnetic chalkboard paint so it can serve as a memo center as well.

“Greg and Debra thought of so many things we just love—the walk-in pantry with its frosted glass door, the detailing on the cabinetry, the painted baseboards. In fact, we like those baseboards so much, we’re going to start replacing all the baseboards in the house, I think,” Cindy says.

The McDermotts may not have bought their house because of the kitchen, but Cindy says they love the new space so much, they may never sell.


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