How to Remodel you Home for an Open Concept (A Project Case Study)

Project Case Studies

Anne came to us with one main goal, improve the flow of her home, by developing an open concept floor plan. The home consisted of tight closed off rooms that lacked functionality. Her hope was that improving the flow would make it easier to get her family ready and out the door in the morning and improved the quality of their family time in the evening.


Merrick’s team took that idea and expanded upon it. Not only would we open up the kitchen but we would shift and expand it. The formal dining room was rarely used by the family. So, we stole that space for the new kitchen, doubling its square footage. The garage was connected to the home by an underused sun room. We tore it down and rebuilt the space with a tight envelope so we could incorporate it into the home.

Her home had two additional points of entry that were used regularly. A mudroom in one part of the home would not necessarily relieve congestion at the other. So naturally we designed a home with two mudroom areas, one to each side of the kitchen.



DenAccess to the basement stairs was originally in the middle of the kitchen. We needed to move that out of the kitchen to improve the traffic in the home. So, we pulled the right side of the kitchen away from the stairs creating a wide hallway and large coat closet, Mudroom 1. The old exterior door to the sunroom was removed and the opening widened to create a smooth flow from the garage to the second Mudroom and into the kitchen.  This mudroom is used every day while the kids get ready for school it has a door directly to the back yard and garage. It is wide enough to house custom cubbies the homeowner is planning to build for themselves. There was enough space in the original porch foundation for a small bonus room, which the client uses as a quiet study and music room.


Creating a kitchen with improved flow was the key to this design. The original was tight and  lacked counter space. To compensate, the homeowner was using a credenza as an island, which made things even tighter. The oven door could not be opened all the way without pushing it out of the way.  If the dishwasher was open the fridge was blocked and if two people tried to cook in there it would be chaos. Eating in the original kitchen was never an option.



This home is surrounded by beautiful trees, but their shade makes the home gloomy. We added recessed lighting on dimmers throughout the great room to brighten things up. A few outlets were also put onto switches to control lamps for softer lighting when desired. LED undercabinet lights shine light directly onto work surfaces helping with prep work. While the pendants were selected to soften all the task lighting and allow for more ambient lighting during parties and meal times.









Once construction got started we uncovered a few problems. To keep the budget in check we wanted to reuse the foundation of the original porch, but we uncovered that it did not have an adequate footer. So we excavated underneath and added one, allowing us to repurpose the original concrete slab.

It was important that the flooring be cohesive from the family room to the new kitchen. We did not want there to be a threshold anywhere to interrupt the visual flow or act as a tripping hazard. When the walls to the dining room were removed we discovered that the floors were drastically uneven. The sub floor had to be ripped up and redone to level the floors out. Even after that was done we still encountered buckling in the hardwood floors where the new hardwood was toothed in with the original flooring from the old dining room. Near completion we had to put on the brakes and reverse to adjust the sub floor again and reinstall a section of the original hardwood. In the end, all the extra effort was worth it. The floors line up beautifully with the original in the family room.

large white kitchen


While the client wanted a great room she still felt that having defined spaces was important to maintain the character of her home. Part way into demolition she requested that we scrap the flush mount beam our contract called for. Instead the beam was installed below the ceiling and trimmed out to define the family room and kitchen as distinct rooms. This saved money, time and added traditional character.

The Kitchen is now the showpiece of the home and you see it the moment you step through the front door. The new kitchen has a large eat-at island that easily accommodates four, with a large kitchen sink facing out into the family room. The aisle is 3’6’, twice the space around the credenza in the original kitchen. If needed, you can now have all the appliance doors open at the same time, which makes the kitchen much more functional for multiple cooks, an original goal of the client.

With multiple cooks in mind, the kitchen was designed in 3 zones. Right by the fridge is a snack zone, that features a charging station close to the rear entry and a microwave drawer that is easy for the kids to use. The island sink is just off center from the range to make it easy to pivot from one spot to another when working in the main cooking zone.  The pantry zone, off the garage, features a wall of built-in pantry cabinets and dry good basket drawer.

The new kitchen has 3 times the amount of counter space as the original, so the stone selection was key to the design. Our designer worked with the client extensively to find the perfect slabs for this kitchen. The final selection was Sea Pearl Quartzite, a natural stone with veining similar to marble, but with all the strength and stain resistance of engineered quartz.


large white kitchen

This kitchen was designed to be used. The cabinets are solid plywood with full extension drawers & roll outs and soft close doors. The original kitchen had the microwave over the range which can be dangerous even for adults to use. We knew we could do better in the new kitchen. So the appliance selections and layout were planned to be kid friendly. They are smudge proof and the bottom freezer and microwave drawer make access easy and safe.




large kitchen island

White kitchens have been, and will continue to be popular. We paid special attention to the aesthetic details to ensure that this white kitchen would stand out from the crowd. 39” wall cabinets were run to the ceiling and topped with a curved crown molding. Cabinet sides were finished with furniture end panels with the exception of the two cabinets by the fridge. Those are turned 90 degrees to create a drop off station by the rear entry. So instead, the upper cabinet was outfitted with an operable side door and the lower with an applied panel. We wanted the island to have more of a furniture feel so the toe kick was done away with and replaced with baseboard the wraps all the way around. To keep the kitchen from being a wash of white and stainless steel, a dry goods basket cabinet was added in the pantry zone. The same zone also includes a glass front display cabinet that extends down to the counter top breaking up the white even further. Light gray glass tile brings in a complimentary hue with the added benefit of adding a little sparkle.


open concept kitchen family roomThe layout out of this remodeled home flows smoothly from the front door to back and out to the garage. All the twist and turns created by the closed off rooms are gone and the home is now pulled together by one straight hallway that ends in the kitchen. We not only improved the flow of the entire home but we created a showpiece kitchen that lives up to Anne’s dream.

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