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Making Memories
By Tracy Dickinson | Photography by Tim Abramowitz
home :: home & garden :: featured remodels

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A Johnston remodel honors the past—and the future.

When Brad and Lori Elmitt moved from Chicago some 25 years ago, they bought a new home in the fledgling Green Meadows West development in Johnston. They were one of the first buyers in the neighborhood, so they had their pick of lots and worked with the builder to custom-design the home.

With the children grown and beginning to raise families of their own, the Elmitts started weighing the benefits of staying in the home or moving to something “more suitable” for the future.

“We’d been talking about it a little,” Lori says. “After 25 years, there were a lot of things that needed updating, and we weren’t sure if we wanted to put the money into updating or just move.”

The Elmitts opted to stay.

“I was more willing to move,” says Brad. “But I’m the practical one.”

In a sense, the couple chose to remodel for the same reasons so many do—the location. But for the Elmitts, it went a little deeper.

“Our kids told us we couldn’t move,” says Lori. “This is their home, the place they grew up and had campouts in the backyard and went sledding. They wanted their own kids to have those memories, too. So we started talking about what we would change if we did remodel.”

And then the oven died, and the what-ifs became a bit more practical.

A friend recommended Beisser, and the couple met with Rob Walker and kitchen designer Barb Hyde from Beisser to talk about the project. They worked through several ideas before settling on the final plan.

Lori explains, “We just played with the layout, which seemed like it took forever, but Beisser gave us time and freedom to do that. And Brad is a marketing person, so after I would spend all day playing with the plan, he’d look at it at night and say, ‘I think we need to do this or move this.’ It was great because he had a different perspective on it.”

“We had originally recommended a larger island and serving area because they thought they might want to open up the kitchen to the living room. But the more we talked about how they use their kitchen and how they live, this layout made more sense,” Walker says.

The room’s footprint didn’t change, but key changes made a dramatic impact on how it functions—rearranging the work triangle, moving the sink and window, eliminating the desk area. Now the room’s function and style so perfectly suit the family that Lori says she can’t imagine moving.

“Redoing the work triangle made a huge difference,” she adds. “I also had them move the light fixture over the table so we could have the table closer to the windows. It’s amazing what a difference that made.”

By moving the dining area just a foot or so, the traffic path opened up, so Beisser was able to create a buffet and storage area, expanding the usable space when the Elmitts host family gatherings.

“We can use the island to serve and the buffet. Everybody can be in the kitchen, and it doesn’t feel cramped,” Lori says.

Brad jokes that they replaced all the old white cabinetry with new white cabinetry. And the old white table was professionally refinished and repainted white. But the transformation is obvious nonetheless and beautiful.

“Everything is just fresh and new and so much better for having all the kids and grandkids over,” Lori says. “We moved the stove; now there’s no stove top on the island where the grandkids can reach it. We have cabinets all the way to the ceiling, so there’s no more going to the basement to get serving dishes or the crockpot.”

Because the footprint didn’t change and the home was well-built to begin with, Walker says they didn’t run into any major surprises during the remodel, although they did end up tearing out everything down to the studs, which they hadn’t anticipated.

“The old kitchen had wallpaper everywhere, and we had planned to just remove it. It ended up being easier to just replace the drywall entirely and start over. And since we were replacing trim anyway, it made sense,” Walker says.

The finished space with its soft white cabinetry, gray-and-white quartz countertops, and refinished wood floors beautifully blends the hominess the children remember with the updated touches Brad and Lori wanted, like the chrome chandelier, the undercabinet lighting, and the mixed textures and finishes from the white tile backsplash and contrasting woods.

“It was harder living through a remodel than we thought it would be, but I’d hire Beisser again,” says Lori. “Their team was amazing. They were meticulous, I never felt like they were pushing their design or their preferences, and they respected our budget and our decision-making process.”

In the end, the entire family got what they were hoping for. Brad and Lori have a kitchen they love that’s designed for their extended family but comfortable for just the two of them. And the kids get to keep making memories in the new and improved family home.


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