My Home Remodel, Part 7: Let There Be Light

I love to cook. To me, it’s stress relief after a long day behind my computer. I love experimenting with new recipes and flavors. And there are few things that warm my heart more than watching my three-year-old daughter enjoy a meal I prepared.

Our NanaWall door has made our view of the lake so much more dramatic.

Therefore, there were a few requirements I had for our new kitchen that would make it more conducive to cooking and, ultimately, entertaining. I wanted more counterspace, hopefully in the form of an island; a ventilation fan that works (I love spices and I’m not afraid to fry!); and improved lighting.

The Solatube brings in daylight even in the wee hours of the morning.

Our kitchen faces north so it never receives much natural light. The existing space also included one can light over the sink, a light over the stove in the microwave/ventilation fan combo and one three-bulb ceiling fan light—none of which provided adequate lighting alone or together. The dark finishes—oak cabinets, black and brown laminate countertops and brown stone backsplash—didn’t help brighten the space either. (See the slideshow below to view the kitchen before.)

Our new stationary window no longer hinders our view of the lake with a rail.

Before demo even began, my first decisions were focused on natural lighting. We had an existing double-hung window over our sink but the rail was right in the line of sight, impeding the view of the lake we live on. I opted to replace it with a 4-foot by 3-foot stationary aluminum window in white, placed in the same position as the double-hung but in the new addition. (The addition is an 8- by 21-foot space toward the lake.)

Our electrician worked tirelessly to ensure I have plenty of electric lighting once the sun sets.

We also had an existing wood sliding glass door. The door was old; its screen was difficult to open and close; and we could see some black mold in one corner in which moisture obviously was an issue. I decided to upgrade this door to bring in as much natural light as possible without losing any coveted counterspace. Our contractor determined we could have a 9-foot-wide by 92-inch-tall glass door in the addition, so we chose a NanaWall with a “traffic white” powder coat in the interest of keeping the new kitchen light and bright. One of the three panels operates as a swing door, opening to the exterior, which will be very convenient when we use our deck and head out to our pontoon this summer. And all three panels fold on top of one another to the exterior, which will be wonderful for entertaining. When the door was installed, I sat and stared at it for a long time. It’s truly stunning and is a showpiece in our home (even now when our house is in a serious state of disarray!).

Glorious light! (This photo was taken before the NanaWall door was installed. We had temporary sheathing and a temporary door in its place. My husband and I joked the neighbors probably wondered why we went from a sliding glass door to a regular swing door.)

Beyond the window and large glass door, I wanted to install a Solatube tubular daylighting device in the kitchen to ensure we brought in as much natural light as possible. My husband Bart had never heard of a tubular daylighting device and basically shrugged his shoulders at this. The morning after it was installed, he got up first to let out our dog. He thought we had left a light on in the kitchen but soon realized it was the Solatube doing what it was supposed to do in the early hours of the morning, and he was impressed.

Despite all the beautiful natural light our kitchen now receives, I cannot forget the importance of electric lighting. Our electrician spent several days at our house, pulling wire and installing Lithonia Lighting downlights with Sylvania LED bulbs that provide a comforting warm light—exactly what I want in my kitchen. Our electrician also spent some time in our attic with the old cellulose and dust bunnies to run the wire for pendants I would like installed over my future island. His dedication is greatly appreciated by me, especially because he never grimaces at the long list of to-do items I hand him!

Our kitchen project now is in full swing. We’ve been without a kitchen for seven weeks this week, which has been challenging but I mentally prepared myself for washing dishes in a basin in the bathtub and being without the kitchen (I was less prepared for the amount of dust and dirt we’d be living in!). I’ll continue to blog as more progress is made. Stay tuned! (View the “before” kitchen photos in the slideshow below.)

About the Author

Christina A. Koch
Christina A. Koch is editorial director and associate publisher of retrofit.

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