You may ask what I am doing naming a project after onions here? Let’s frame it up for those uninformed about Vermont’s favorite onion, the Winooski. Winooski, both a city and a river in Vermont’s Champlain Valley, was named after what the Abenaqui called the region. It got it’s namesake for the wild onions that used to grow along the riverbanks, the Abernaqui called it “the land of the wild onion”. You may know the city as “Burlington’s Brooklyn”, but it’s also the place some folks we hold very dear to our hearts reside, Chris’s sister Faye & our soon to be brother-in-law Corey.
Last year, when Faye and Corey announced they were embarking on a major re-imagining of their duplex in the heart of Winooski we were both wondering if they had lost their minds AND excited to help. Don’t get us wrong, they’d made a great little home for themselves in the middle of the city, managing to find space for chickens, an impressive vegetable garden, and even some fruit trees… but the chopped up layout, general cramped feeling, overall lack of space and endless city permitting had us asking “WHY on earth would you do this to yourself?!” But they forged ahead despite the naysayers, and after spending the weekend in their newly completed space, call us converts! We <3 Winooski!
It comes in handy to have two kitchen & bath designers in the family, but these two clearly did not need us. Corey’s profession as an engineer coupled with Faye’s organization & planning skills, meant they pretty much had it all figured out before they even talked to us. For this project, they drove the car, while we backseat drove… but I like to think we were at least as helpful as a driving instructor might be, offering input on their choices both visually & functionally, what brands could be trusted, and ironing out all the little details. We told them where to splurge (hello soapstone counter-tops!) and where to save (that stock vanity top sure does look expensive doesn’t it?); We forced them to enclose their refrigerator (which they later thanked us for and said made a huge difference!); and jockeyed for the “Moonshine” colored cabinets rather than a basic white (which looks SO good here), and supported all the fabulous choices they made on their own. [And we might’ve passed along some sweet family discounts]
The kitchen in itself was a beyond drastic transformation, they went from a small closed in space with a freestanding fridge next to a range with maybe 2 feet of countertop on either side, a giant old sink with drainboards and no counter space, no storage, and a high top pub table as their only dining space… to a spacious open concept space with plenty of counter space, storage, an island with seating space and a large dining space with a grown up table.
Most of this was accomplished by knocking down all of the walls in the common areas, the kitchen expanded into the old mudroom, and a small addition was added to the rear & side of the house, creating a dining & mudroom space. The kitchen kept the same layout for the most part, with the sink moving into the island to allow for oodles of counter space. Their biggest addition to the space was something they both dreamed about, a Vermont Bun Baker, a wood stove with so much more than just cozy ambiance, it has the ability to bake home-made bread inside! We can’t wait for a chilly winter visit to try some wood fired buns!
Since they still ended up with just one bathroom, which would also house laundry, this space really had to work double duty! Rather than try to squeeze a double vanity in, they opted for a single, which got them more counter space… and room for a partition wall for the toilet. To create space for the laundry, they stole space from the former large laundry closet in the second bedroom which shares a wall with the bath, went from side by side’s to stackable units, and ended up with lots of extra space for laundry baskets and towel storage (and still managed to have space for a more proportionally sized closet in the bedroom!) Though initially they hoped to get a separate tub and shower to fit – there just was not enough space, so they went with a Tub/Shower setup knowing once Kids came that would be the most practical. To keep it feeling spa-like, we added white tiled walls, a modern hand shower and rain shower head, and the Kohler Expanse Tub combined with a curved rod kept things feeling nice and spacious.
All in all, it was a great project to work on – and so nice to get to experience it fully once it was completed with an overnight. It’s rare we actually get to watch someone cook in a kitchen we sold them, or use a shower we had a hand in designing, so this was a really special experience. Faye & Corey also taught us a thing or two! They found a pullout faucet for their bathroom which was something we did not know existed – is that not the most convenient thing for cleaning toothpaste smears?! (See video evidence below!)