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An Inspired Design
By Tracy Dickinson | Photography by Tim Abramowitz
home :: home & garden :: featured remodels

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A kitchen remodel takes advantage of beautiful views.

They say inspiration can come from anywhere. For Greg and Tresa Boal of West Des Moines, the inspiration for a kitchen remodel came from a trip to Burlington. And that inspiration changed their view for good.

“We were driving home from visiting friends, and we were marveling at the sunshine they had in their kitchen, which we just didn’t get in ours,” Greg says. “Their home looks out over the Mississippi and has a completely different style, but they get great natural light into their kitchen. So we came home, looked at our kitchen, and wondered how we could get more light in ours.”

The first obstacle the couple had to address was a wall that separated the kitchen and dining room. If it wasn’t a load-bearing wall, removing it would open up some wonderful possibilities. So the Boals did some research, talked to some remodelers, and ended up with Woodharbor.

“We liked what Greg and Cheryl had to say,” Greg explains. “They asked a lot of questions, and they went back and forth with us on the details of the project. It became clear very quickly that Greg and Cheryl understood what we wanted to accomplish.”

“They had a general idea for the project,” says Woodharbor’s Cheryl Arganbright. “They knew they wanted more light, a larger island, and more storage space. They hoped by removing the one wall all three could be achieved, but they weren’t sure exactly how to go about it.”

“Even when we bought the house in 2014, the kitchen was our least favorite room. It was dark; the island was too small. But at that time, we had no idea we were going to do anything this extensive,” Greg says.

Once the couple learned that the wall between the kitchen and dining room was not load-bearing, their dream of a light-filled space became more of a possibility. And their conversations with the Woodharbor team helped them fine-tune the space they were imagining.

One thing that made the whole process go more smoothly was what Tresa called the “prework” stage. “We spent a lot of time talking with Cheryl about design and layout, researching products, and finding out what could and couldn’t be done.”

For example, much of the main floor, including the original kitchen, had Brazilian cherry floors. The Boals wanted to keep that in the new design. But installing new flooring next to existing material without a noticeable dividing line can be a challenge.

“They had some pieces left over from the initial installation,” explains Arganbright. “We were able to go to the supplier and find more of that same product so we could match it.”

“One of the beautiful things about Brazilian cherry is that it darkens and lightens with natural light, so it eventually adapts to the room and the light it’s exposed to,” Tresa says. “After a few months, you can’t even tell which pieces are new and which were there before.”

In addition to blending new flooring with old, Woodharbor was able to make the new kitchen blend seamlessly with the existing paint and complement the home’s trim style.

“With the paint, all we had to do was touch up around the new opening,” Tresa says. “We really didn’t want to have to repaint because we’d had the whole house redone when we moved in a couple of years before. After removing the columns that were between the kitchen and dining room and redesigning that opening, they just had to paint the new walls and blend it with the old.”

Upper cabinets feature a hand-glazed finish in creamy white, which enhances the natural light from the newly opened space. To further break up the wall of cabinetry, Tresa chose glass fronts and in-cabinet lighting for some units.

The new and enlarged gold-flecked island countertop complements the dramatic backsplash, which catches the light and warms the space even at night.

Although it seems everything about the kitchen is new, the seamless transition Woodharbor achieved makes the room feel like it’s original to the house. And, unlike many remodeling projects, this one didn’t expand into other rooms beyond the original plan.

The homeowners swapped the dining room and sitting room furnishings to take better advantage of that beautiful view. The remodeled space is surrounded by windows and open to the spacious new kitchen. Whether the family is gathered around the gorgeous island or entertaining guests, they find themselves in awe of the transformation.

“We spend 70 percent of our time in the kitchen or the sitting room,” Greg says. “Before this remodel, we couldn’t see that view while in the kitchen.”

“This project didn’t really morph into anything else, but the lighter change has made such a difference. It has carried over into the decorating of the rest of the main floor. We’re in the process of taking it from a traditional look to more of a transitional one,” Tresa says.

Greg adds, “When we said we wanted to make those changes—to get more light and open up the room—what we didn’t realize when we had it done was how much it would help give us a vision for the rest of the house.”

“We just love it. We wouldn’t have done this if it hadn’t been for Greg and that drive home from Burlington,” Tresa laughs.


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