Remodeler’s Corner: Retro Rambler in Southwest Rochester Gains A Modern Kitchen

Jennifer and John Goodman’s home was taken right from the pages of a magazine. Their house design is “Better Homes and Gardens” Idea Home Plan 2809-A. 

The layout was one of six plans published in the September 1958 issue of “Better Homes and Gardens” magazine, available to homebuilders for assembly as shown. Local contractor John Weis & Sons obliged the publication and constructed the concept home—breezeway, carport, angled ceilings and wall-tall windows.  

Plan 2809-A still charmed the Goodmans in 2000, more than 40 years later, when they purchased the retro rambler in southwest Rochester. “It was just a beautiful, open floor plan,” Jennifer says of the house, sweeping her arm toward the floor-to-ceiling windows. 


The kitchen had a view outside but not much space inside. At one end, a wall cut the kitchen off from the living area; a peninsula counter with hanging cabinets jutted out at the other end. The U-shaped kitchen was small, efficient for one person.  Everything was in easy reach—sink, range, cabinets, refrigerator. “You just spun around and cooked,” says Jennifer.  “It was too crowded for us, a family of four.” 

The kitchen also needed upgrading to replace dated features such as a single-bowl sink and older appliances. While eager for the improvements, the couple did not want to lose the character of their ranch-style home. 

Today, their kitchen is in full view of the rest of the house, blending seamlessly into Plan 2809-A. It even adds a touch of modern flair.


The Goodmans contacted Beyond Kitchens, L.L.C. early in fall of 2014. “She wanted [the kitchen] opened up,” says Diane Quinn, owner of the design-build firm. By late December, the remodeling was underway; it was completed in March 2015, three and a half months later.

Creating space was Quinn’s first construction chore. Both legs of the U—the wall to the living room and the peninsula counter/cabinets—were demolished. The result was an uninterrupted interior view from the main living area through the kitchen. 

The remodeling project essentially lined up the kitchen’s work counters, appliances and cabinets along the walls, opening the narrow middle aisle. The small family room that had functioned as a dinette effectively disappeared. Beyond Kitchens also extended some wall space for the kitchen by replacing a sliding patio door with a single, walk-out entrance. 


Perhaps the project’s most unusual feature is chalkboard door that conceals an alcove that was remodeled into a six-level pantry. The door rolls open and closed on a visible track mounted on one wall of the kitchen. The chalkboard is the message center for the Goodmans and their two children, ages 9 and 12. The nook had not always been a pantry. Jennifer previously used the tiny space as an office.


Meanwhile, the remodeling added new features to the Goodman kitchen, including a quartz countertop (Cambria Hyde Park) and double-bowl sink. Jennifer says, “That was a must-have.” It also features a natural gas range with a large ventilation hood. With the remodeling, the couple switched from electricity to natural gas for cooking. And finally, they included a wine refrigerator with capacity for 44 bottles.

New decor tied together the project in a number of ways. A hickory wood floor flows through the new kitchen and into the living areas. A stone and glass backsplash features earthen colors matching the slate tile at the home’s main fireplace. The cabinets are made from rustic alder wood and stained in dark brown tones. “I love antique and rustic stuff,” Jennifer says. 

Quinn selected doors with recessed panel doors and simple lines. In the 1950s, “There was not a lot of ornate detail to it,” she says. The hardware for drawer and door handles were selected for modest rustic appeal. Pendant lights in the kitchen follow the same decor—a touch of antique but not ornate.  Jennifer chose one favorite lamp to hang over the sink. “I like the old Edison bulb with its multiple filaments that light up,” she says.

The family was able to stay in the house during remodeling. The Goodmans keep a framed copy of the 1958 Better Homes and Gardens article describing their house plan. The remodeling project done by Beyond Kitchens also was featured in the Rochester Area Builders Inc. 2015 Remodelers Tour last fall. 

Bob Freund is a freelance writer based in Rochester.