Remodeler’s Corner: Pleases with Space and Style

Contractor: Kitchens plus

Project: Kitchen Remodel

Subcontractors: Gary Einck Plumbing, Bruce Hanson Remodeling, Laitala Tile, Leth Electric, Merschbrock Drywall and Painting, Schotts Hardwood Flooring, Ultimate Surfaces

Βrent and Beth Carey’s newly remodeled kitchen becomes the center of attention whenever the Rochester couple has family in town or entertains guests for an evening. 


Hosts and guests can comfortably gather in the kitchen to chat. At meal time, guests can flow on either side along a 9-foot long center island to fill their plates from a buffet-style spread. It’s a favorite hosting style for the Careys. At the same time, without being crowded for work space, someone can be preparing food using the quart counter tops.

 Before the Careys and the Kitchens Plus design firm in Rochester remodeled it, “The kitchen was really cramped,” says designer Becky Mickelson of Kitchens Plus. At one end, a peninsula counter jutted out from the wall and acted as a room separator. At the other end, a tall cupboard intruded into walking space from another wall. And there was not a lot of work room in between.


The couple and Kitchens Plus, which acted as designer and general contractor, went to work in fall 2015 to create a spacious kitchen without expanding the house. They removed the peninsula and added counter space at the end of the kitchen. They took out a cabinet-style pantry and a door leading into an adjacent room. Then, the Careys decided to forgo part of their formal dining room and moved a kitchen wall 5 feet to make room for a walk-in pantry. 

The island is the centerpiece of the Carey kitchen. It features a quartz stone top that flares into a semicircular seating area for conversations over snacks with their two children or drinks with guests. Mickelson says she has rounded out the ends of kitchen islands similarly in other designs.

The homeowners say Mickelson also found a way to open the view into the kitchen as people enter. By eliminating a door for stairs into the lower level, it was possible to remove part of the wall of the stairwell and get a glimpse of the kitchen through the open corner.


A view of the backyard was important too. “We really wanted a long window,” Beth says. So, the remodeling project doubled the length of the existing window from 3 feet to 6 feet. 

Another priority for the project was additional storage. Drawers in the base of the island added substantial storage; overhead cabinet space also increased. Yet, the largest single addition is the walk-in pantry, a separate room behind a frosted glass door off the kitchen. Instead of cabinets, the Careys installed open shelves for storing dry foods, packages and cans and a long counter top to use as a work space.


The Careys refreshed most of their appliances during the remodel. They switched their oven from electric to natural gas, and perhaps most eye-catching is the oven’s stylish ventilation hood, which is trimmed with glass rim.

The oven is accented by a striking Glazzio Urban Pollen back splash, a mosaic of different sizes of glass and stones. A ribbon of the decorative tile continues into the rest of the kitchen back splash. There, it is surrounded by larger tiles with a sandy color and small white speckles. According to Mickelson, this type of tile is called “crackle.” From a design standpoint, “I like mixing the different tiles,” she says.

Brent, an information technology specialist for a software company in Rochester, drew on his computer skills to choose the tiles. “I was able to make a 3-D model to picture and compare the various types,” he says.


While updating the kitchen, the Careys says they also wanted Also coordinate its modern look with other parts of the house. For example, the Glazzio tile complements—but is not exactly like—a mosaic around their fireplace in their large family room within sight of the kitchen. 

The Careys also installed the same American walnut hardwood flooring in the kitchen and adjacent dining room for continuity.  According to Brent, base for the center island is dark cherry wood, which is a good match for the walnut flooring beneath.

Their kitchen project was an important step in a renovation plan that started when they moved in 2008. “Basically, in the eight years we’ve lived here, the whole main floor (now) is…different,” Brent says. 

The Careys first contacted Kitchens Plus during last fall’s Remodeling Tour by Rochester Area Builders. Mickelson says the  design firm plans to enter their kitchen in the annual tour this year. 

 Bob Freund is a Rochester-based writer.