Let There Be Light – A Kitchen Remodel Inspires Brighter Family Life

By ROB SWENSON

LEXINGTON, Mass. – There’s something magical about light. It’s comforting. It attracts people’s attention, and it makes them feel cheerful.

“Humans are drawn to light. When it’s dreary outside, humans get depressed,” says Barney Maier, a senior architect with Feinmann, Inc., a design-build firm in Lexington, Mass. “Humans respond positively to light.”

The homeowners’ desire for more light was a factor that significantly shaped the Feinmann team’s award-winning remodel of Cara and Scott Winterble’s home in Lexington.

Feinmann Lexington_001b
Showplace cabinetry provided the perfect fit for this home remodel project in Massachusetts.

Several windows were added to let more natural light into the kitchen and dining area. In addition, a wall was removed and a partial bathroom was relocated to open up space and provide better visual and physical access to the nicely landscaped backyard.

Strategically installing white painted cabinets helped substantially brighten the new kitchen.  A new backdoor and mudroom area helped give the main floor a better flow. The master bathroom on the second floor of the house also was upgraded with lighter colored hickory cabinetry.

“I was really pleased with the outcome,” says Cara Winterble. “I like dark wood, but when you add the light wood, it really pops.”

The Winterbles’ 1,800-square-foot bungalow was built in 1929. They set out to update the Foursquare, Colonial home while retaining its charming appearance. They also wanted to keep the home within its existing footprint in Lexington, a city rich in American history.

Lexington is a town of about 32,300 people in a prosperous part of the Greater Boston Area. The community is famous for being the site of the first shot fired in the American Revolutionary War. That was in 1775. Today, Lexington is home to many historical buildings and monuments that pay tribute to the Colonial and Revolutionary Eras.

Lexington was first settled in 1642 as part of Cambridge but was incorporated as a separate town in 1713. It remained largely a farming community until a population boom in the 1950s.

Cara Winterble, who is expecting her second child, can see the Boston skyline from a park near her home where she takes her two-year-old daughter to play. She and her husband had lived in their bungalow about four years before deciding a few years ago to remodel it. They called Feinmann for help in reimagining how to use the space and stay within a reasonable budget.

“They helped us with the design process. We told them what we were looking for, and after a few meetings we got there. It was really easy,” Cara says. “I kept waiting for it to be hard.”

Feinmann employees helped build as well as design the improvements. Maier was the architect for the project. Elvin Zayas-Lai was the architectural designer, and Kyle Dube was the project manager.

“The key to the success of the project was recognizing that the biggest issue was light. To get more light into the space where people were living, we had to move some things around,” Maier says. “The kitchen, especially, didn’t have enough light.”

Most projects, in Maier’s estimation, present tradeoffs. In this case, it was visual openness vs. storage space. Openness prevailed, he says, “but we were able to fit in a fair amount of storage.”

Zayas-Lai points out that moving the partial bathroom to a corner helped create a bigger area with more open space. The new design establishes a good physical and visual connection to the back yard – the “ocean view,” metaphorically speaking – ­he says. Establishing that kind of connection was something the Winterbles wanted.

In addition to a young child, the Winterbles have two dogs, which makes the back yard an important part of their home life. A new backdoor and mudroom area also improves the flow and appearance of the interior of the home.

mudroom, mud room, new cabinets
Showplace cabinetry was chosen for several rooms in this ambitious home remodel project.

Feinmann carries multiple lines of cabinets, but Showplace products were selected. The homeowners’ choice of Showplace cabinetry was a good one, Zayas-Lai says. “The design options provided the right style, a good fit, and a cost-effective price to help keep the project within budget,” he says.

Dube, who oversaw the project, agrees that Showplace cabinets worked well. “They had what we were looking for,” he says. Dube directed subcontractors as well as carpenters from Feinmann. The Winterbles moved out during construction, but Dube stayed in contact with Cara throughout the work.

“I just thought this was a really nice project because of the before and after. We significantly changed the look and the feel of the first floor, as a whole,” Dube says.

Other remodeling experts have been impressed by the outcome, too. The kitchen work won a Gold CotY Award in 2016 from the Eastern Massachusetts chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

Ironically, the Winterbles will be leaving the house soon. They will be moving elsewhere in the Boston area to be closer to family members, Cara says.

Improving their home in Lexington was not a wasted effort, however. The house has become more appealing for the next occupants and made their home more marketable. The improvements also might inspire homeowners elsewhere in the country.

Internet and cable TV programs about home remodeling have made variety in cabinet styles more accessible to fashion-conscience audiences across the nation’s regional borders, says Scott Korsten, director of marketing for Showplace Wood Products in Harrisburg, S.D. “TV and Internet coverage has made sharing ideas easier and more popular,” he says.

Expanding our cabinetry offerings, including door styles, wood species, finishes and customization options, has become a way of life at Showplace,” Korsten says. “It helps us better serve Feinmann and other independent dealers across the nation who sell Showplace cabinets to increasingly aware homeowners.”

Historic Home Renovation Creates Timeless Showplace

Story by Rob Swenson

LANCASTER, PA. – Details matter in restoration work, especially when a historic home is being remodeled. So David Rader typically begins design work by reviewing old records.

“The one thing I really like to do, when customers are open to it, is to spend time researching and finding as much information about a house as possible,” he says. “Then you can work forward.”

Rader sells kitchen cabinets made by Showplace Wood Products and two other companies through Lasher & Associates in Pennsylvania and New York. He also does design work on the side. When friends Stacey and Lois Rawlings asked him for help in extensively remodeling a vacant but potentially elegant farmhouse they had purchased, Rader headed to the courthouse to research property records.

Lancaster is a city of about 60,000 residents in south-central Pennsylvania. It’s the home of James Buchanan, the nation’s 15th president, and part of a region rich in U.S. history.

Although the brick house acquired by the Rawlings had been built about 1875, records dated the overall property back to at least the mid-1700s. The property included the house, which hadn’t been occupied for several years and needed a lot of work, plus two barns and a garage. The buildings sat on about 10 acres of land.

The Rawlings, whose active household included three teenagers, sought Rader’s help in remodeling the kitchen. They wanted to update the kitchen but also preserve some of the historic look and feel of the room. “What we wanted to do in the renovation was reflect some of the time period,” Stacey Rawlings said.

Property records provided some interesting and useful insights to complement Rader’s observational skills. Early in its existence, the kitchen area had featured a large fireplace for cooking and an elevated tub that held rain water. That was about it. Through the years, features such as modern plumbing and appliances had been added. A stove had been moved into the fireplace area, for example. Laminate countertops that appeared to be at least 30 years old would have to be replaced to give the kitchen the desired look.

Changes that had been made in the kitchen over time reflected historic and social trends as well as a chain of ownership that once included at least one well-known local family. At one point, the house apparently had a detached summer kitchen, also known as a servants’ quarters. But the two structures had been linked by a hallway, probably in the early 1900s. That presented one of the initial challenges for the homeowners and Rader.

Rader suggested that a wall separating the two parts of the kitchen be demolished to create a bigger, more open kitchen area, and the Rawlings liked the idea. Removing the wall more clearly exposed another issue: The floor was not level. There was more than a 4-inch difference in the height of the floor from one part of the expanded kitchen to the other.

The upside of tearing out and replacing the old floor was that the Rawlings got the opportunity to install new plumbing and electrical infrastructure, including radiant floor heat.

The entire kitchen area essentially had to be stripped down to the shell and rebuilt, Rader and Rawlings said. Stacey Rawlings did a lot of the demolition work himself, and seeing parts of the house get torn apart was difficult for him and other family members. Conversely, seeing the new kitchen come together was exciting. The new, bigger kitchen area is roughly 22 feet by 30 feet.

To give the kitchen the desired look while also providing modern convenience, Rader suggested using a semi-custom line of inset-style, oak cabinets from Showplace Wood Products, a respected national brand. Inset cabinetry is built in a way so that the door fits within the face of the frame. “Showplace just has superior products, and they best fit the need,” Rader said.

Rader showed the Rawlings samples of the cabinets, which are manufactured by Showplace in a plant at its headquarters in Harrisburg, S.D. The Rawlings agreed that inset cabinets with decorative, finial hinges were a good fit, and an order for cabinets and moldings was placed with Jemson Cabinetry in Ephrata, Pa.

“A major renovation was going on in the rest of the house – all new electric, water, sewer. We needed to stay on schedule, and the cabinets arrived on the exact day they said they would, and it all fit, which was remarkable,” Stacey Rawlings said. “When it was all installed we said, ‘Wow. That’s amazing!”

The old countertops were replaced with soapstone, a product that has been available since the 1800s. When treated with a small amount of mineral oil, chalky grey soapstone turns into a beautiful, dark stone with white veining, Rader pointed. The Rawlings also had custom-made windows installed to complement the historic design of their house.

Work on the kitchen and the rest of the house is finished. The Rawlings have moved on to restoring other buildings on the property.

Scott Korsten, director of marketing at Showplace, got an opportunity to tour the Rawlings’ restored home while on a business trip in the region. Although the family had only recently moved in, they graciously agreed to show their house, including the kitchen area and the newly installed Showplace cabinets, Korsten said.

“The fact that our cabinets can be custom-built to fit exacting spaces was especially important in the remodel of this historic property”

“It was especially gratifying to see how well our cabinetry fit their goal of maintaining the historic appeal of the home. The fact that our cabinets can be custom-built to fit exacting spaces was especially important in the remodel of this historic property,” he said.

Assisting with the remodeling was an especially satisfying project for Rader. He appreciated what the Rawlings wanted to accomplish and that they were open to his suggestions. “It was a pretty special project,” he said.

The extensive remodeling of the kitchen was a positive experience for the Rawlings, too. “I would and have recommended Showplace to other people. It was a great experience,” Stacey Rawlings said. “We are enjoying the kitchen and the cabinetry.”