Designer’s Notebook: Farmhouse Fresh

Ealy Construction transforms a dark, crowded kitchen with water damage throughout into an open and bright, modern living space.

authors Nethaniel Ealy Alex Walton | February 10, 2021

After our clients discovered extensive water damage in their kitchen’s subfloor, they started dreaming of what their kitchen could become: an open, bright and inviting space to entertain guests and raise their growing family.

Our clients had never been happy with the home’s original kitchen. Separate kitchen and dining areas left their family feeling isolated and cramped around the dining room table, while damaged black-tile countertops and backsplashes gave a dark and dingy feel to the space. As mold started to grow behind the cabinets, so did our clients’ frustration with their kitchen.

“One day we noticed the floor around the sink was starting to peel up,” they said. “We didn’t think much of it because it was right by the sink. At some point we started pulling boards back and realized the water had gone underneath the whole floor.

“What we realized in the course of that was that water was just freely flowing out of the dishwasher and then going underneath our floating floor. There was mold on the walls, and there was water under all the cabinets. There wasn’t an easy fix to that. Once that sunk in, we realized we really needed to redo the whole kitchen. That turned into, what kind of kitchen do we want?”

As a design-build remodeler, our approach includes extensive planning with clients to create spaces that fit their personal style. We went through an extensive design process to flesh out the shortcomings of the existing space and develop the modern farmhouse kitchen that you see here.

Due to budget constraints, we needed to work with existing soffits and can-lighting locations. This left us almost no room to alter the layout. Removing the wall separating the kitchen and dining areas unified the spaces while bringing more natural light into the kitchen.

After removing the wall that supported the existing vent hood, we needed to engineer a way to suspend a new one. When we set the height of the hood vent, the deep soffit gave us less than 1 inch of clearance between the adjustable shrouds. Our lead carpenter engineered and custom fabricated brackets that could be fit inside the shroud and tightened into place with a magnet-tipped screwdriver.

The final layout carried flooring all the way through the newly combined rooms. This posed a challenge because the kitchen, dining and living areas were built out of square. Advanced planning and careful installation ensured that lines remained straight through the entire space. Cabinets were also adjusted to mask imperfections in the squareness of the room.

Because of the extensive water damage to the space, tearing out and replacing some subfloor, insulation and sheetrock was required. During demolition we discovered some additional water damage from a refrigerator’s faulty ice maker. Timely identification and communication kept the repairs in sequence and under 5 percent of the total budget.

Our clients lived in the home during construction with their five small children and a dog. Dust-control measures and HVAC protection were critical to their health and comfort during construction. Our team covered all vents and fully isolated the space with zippered plastic access points. The client gave us a great compliment that the disruption and dust “was far less than you warned us it would be.”

When the homeowners threw us a party to christen their new kitchen, their smiles were brighter than the sunlight pouring into the space.

The final layout combines the kitchen and dining rooms into a communal space. A massive increase in counter space allows for two breakfast bars that tie in the adjoining rooms. Bold, blue cabinets make a statement, while reclaimed wood shelves echo existing reclaimed wood accents and tie the kitchen in with the rest of the home.

Newly installed quartz countertops and subway tile backsplash contrast with darker cabinets and LVT flooring selections, emphasizing the bright and open feel that our clients love. A farmhouse sink and new chandeliers reinforce the farmhouse theme while a new gas range, dishwasher and relocated light switches make the kitchen a pleasure to work in.

At the close of construction, we came in on-schedule and on-budget, including the minor change orders for the unexpected water damage.

Our clients were thrilled with the transformation from a dark, crowded kitchen to an open and modern living space, and they were happy to share that in their testimonial. “We got rid of the wall, added two bars and opened up the dining room, so it’s now part of the kitchen, and that took away all of the isolation. It’s just an excellent living space. It feels new and fresh, and it’s actually a place you want to be.” QR

Nethaniel Ealy, owner of Ealy Construction, is a serial entrepreneur who lives in Moscow, Idaho, with his wife and five children.

Alex Walton, marketing director at Ealy Construction, is a graduate of the University of Idaho and loves creating memorable and enjoyable customer experiences.

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