After 8 years, the final touch on our kitchen/family room remodel

cloud_swiftJanuary 10, 2013

This isn't a nightmare remodel that took forever - 8 years ago we started on the kitchen part of our kitchen/family room with much help from this forum. Then we took a remodeling break for a few years before tackling the family room.

In 2011 we got rid of the dark huge faux rock hearth with the tiny firebox - replacing it with an EPA II fireplace that would heat efficiently and cleanly (and be allowed to burn on most no-burn days). Along with that, we put new flooring in the whole area (we hadn't done that with the kitchen remodel because we were keeping about the same foot print and it made more sense to replace it when we took out the hearth.

Before (with the mock up of the new fireplace next to the old hearth):

We asked for advice here including on choosing doors for the new family room cabinets that would be different from the kitchen but harmonious with it and on knob placement.

The final step was the great couch hunt as our couch was on its last legs and the chair really didn't go with the room. I think I sat in just about every couch in a showroom in the Sacramento area trying to find ones that are comfortable and go with our room. We appreciated help here on choosing color. When we ordered the seating they said it could take up to 6 months for them to arrive which would have been March. Then we got a pleasant surprise just before the new year to make a delivery appointment. The couch and chairs arrived last Thursday.

Here is the final result:

Cabinets: natural cherry custom made by a local shop, not built in, they are finished on all sides so they could be arranged differently and used separately if we moved.

Knobs: walnut from neighborhood tree trimmings turned by my DH

Floor: Lauzon pre-finished natural maple solid wood (not engineered wood)

Fireplace: Lennox Villa Vista
surround - Azul do Mar quartzite (from remnants of the kitchen slabs)
hearth - Shanxi black "granite" (probably basalt or gabbro)

Seating: Ekornes Stressless Space theater seating and Dream Recliners

Our cabinet maker suggested a unit for the AV components that has adjustable shelves mounted on a turntable so one can get to the back of them for more easy cabling.

Close up to show off the knobs my husband made - we worked a lot on the shape to get something that would be simple and very comfortable to use:

With the blinds closed:

Blinds open and showing the seating with kitchen in background (my iphone camera is confused by the light from the windows and distorts the color):

Thank you to the members of this forum for their help along the way. We are so happy with the room now.

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Wow! What a great space! The sofas and chairs look so comfortable. I've always loved the contemporary look of the Stressless products. The cabinetry turned out great. Love the nobs your dh made. Nice contrast to the cabs. And the turntable is brilliant! Enjoy your finally done space!

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 5:45PM
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Wow! A long time coming but so worth it Your kitchen is beautiful and your family room compliments it perfectly. Congratulations on a great job! The fireplace is such a huge improvement. May you and your family enjoy many happy times cuddling on that yummy sofa!

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 6:07PM
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I remember the Couch Color Pageant! This is the Cognac, maybe?? Everything looks nicely tied together.

Getting rid of the old hearth was genius--look at how much more functionality you have and how family can hang out but cooks still are involved.


    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 7:26PM
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We have had our Ekornes couch and chair for about 15 years. They wear really well and I had no idea they were still around. Lovely space!

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 8:10PM
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Looks fantastic. It just proves good things come to those that wait. Great job.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 8:21PM
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Looks fantastic- love the audio cabinet features and don't you just love your chairs!
I might have to show DH your cabinet - but maybe not....

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 9:02PM
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What an improvement over the old fireplace. While I love stone, the new fireplace just seems more in scale. I love our "one" Ekornes chair. And you have a whole set! They are a lovely brown. It looks very comfy. Great job and congratulations on your completion.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 10:30PM
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ohhh.... I think we got our fireplaces from the same rock pile (I have a little less black). My family room is an add-on in the 60s and it is set to be remodeled just after the kitchen.

I do love the AV cabinet, and the spin around feature certainly beats lugging all that equipment around to fix the wiring in back. I plan too to hide the speakers behind cloth. Do you have others? I can't tell from the pictures. Sorry to get off topic, everyone. Was it tough to rebuild the fireplace? You moved it like four or five feet to the right, didn't you? And how big is that TV? (Oh way off topic now)

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 1:14AM
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Wow, that was one LARGE rock wall. What a difference getting that out of there made. What a comfortable, lovely space you have now. Love your big windows, too. That AV setup is very clever... have to bookmark that idea.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 8:15AM
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What a comfortable, useful space!
Do you ever leave it? :)

I think I'd talk DH into a few more projects. Those knobs are flawless. Just gorgeous.
Your home looks so much better without that rock wall. I try to imagine what people were thinking...


    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 9:14AM
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Ohh!! My mouth curved up into a big smile at the first picture of your new space. Before I even had time to think about it.
What a pleasant space. And what a change.
I bet your mouth curves into a smile every time you walk into that room.
Don't you miss that gigantic black ogre who used to squat by the wall disquising himself as a fireplace?

Gone, thank goodness, but not, I am sure, forgotten.

I think those blinds are a fabulous choice, by the way.

Thank you for sharing this.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 11:02AM
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Wow! It looks great! Enjoy.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 11:42AM
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Wowzers! You have created such a warm and comfortable space. I love the cabinet style and color too.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 12:14PM
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Bellsmom! You're brilliant! I love the collage!

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 8:24PM
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Thanks everyone for the compliments and good wishes! We can't believe how well it turned out either. We agonized a lot over which seating to order. Even though we played around with layouts on paper, I was worried that the theater seating group would be too big but I really wanted 3 seats there. The room feels much more spacious with the new seating then with the old couch - I think that's partly its a visual illusion because this one looks less bulky and partly the Space is less deep than on the old couch with its bulky cushions.

mtnfever, the Couch Color pageant definitely helped us get clarity on the right color. For those who missed it, I highly recommend the approach of making large samples of a color to consider instead of trying to imagine with a tiny sample chip. I'll link the thread below for those who didn't see it.

We knew we wanted to get rid of the hearth when we bought the house decades ago, but it took a long time to get around to it. On the other hand, I don't think we would have made as good decisions if we had replaced it back then.

Bcafe, in the stores, they use the Stressless name and logo more than the Ekornes one so it would be easy to think that the company wasn't around. They still have the Ekornes non-reclining couches and chairs too. The website is

Enduring - yes it wasn't in scale and was way too dark. Even more, I hated it because it was fake stone. It always looked really fake to me though I've had others who were sure it was real stone.

Gooster, yes all the front speakers are behind speaker cloth sections in the cabinets. The center is between the two drawers of the credenza; left and right on pull out shelves in the far left and right cabinets. The subwoofer is the black box on the floor and the rear speakers are white and mounted near the ceiling - you can see one in the first picture.

Yes, we moved the fireplace to the right - doing so was only slightly more work than tearing out the hearth and installing a new one where the old one was. The hearth was fake stone on a metal mesh backing over a wood frame so that was much easier to remove than it looks like it would be. There wasn't a solid brick or stone chimney - just a flue pipe to remove and this is on an inside wall - the works were all in the empty space between the faux stone and an interior wall - so there was no external chimney to move to match except a little box on the roof.

This is a one story which also makes moving things easier - the main work of moving it was patching the old hole in the roof and making a new one for the new flue to go through. We had moved it too far to be able to slant the flue to reach the old hole.

When our GC took out the old hearth, there were some surprises. A joist had been cut for the old flue to go through the ceiling and it hadn't been sistered or anything - just two joist ends hanging in space in the ceiling. Our GC repaired that. There were electrical outlets on the bottom of the hearth and there were wire junctions just hanging in space inaccessible under the heart where the wiring was connected to wires from the wall. The fireplace was apparently a very early addition to the house poorly done.

The TV is 65" - the size was chosen to be big enough that text viewed from the couch when using the screen for the media computer would be about equivalent to looking at text on a desktop computer screen. Also it works nicely for viewing while cooking and yet isn't overwhelming from the couch. The gap could accommodate a 73" screen, but I prefer having a little space around the screen.

CEFreeman, the knobs took a lot of thought and work. He has made things like bowls and salt shakers before but never has made things that need to match as a large set. I came up with an initial design for the profile after seeing something similar in a magazine and then he made some initial variations so we could perfect the diameter, height and shape details. Then he made about twice as many as we would need since these are done freehand and the wood also varies. I sorted them into matched pairs and we used the best matches on the pairs of doors where the knobs are right next to each other in the wide cabinet and the credenza. We also put matched pairs on the left and right opening tall cabinets in case they are ever in a room where they are right next to each other.

He also repairs furniture and is the only reason we still can use the rather fragile dining table chairs we have. But he does full time day care for our youngest grandchild so I only get so much project time from him.

Bellsmom!! Yikes - so that's why we had to replace the hearth - to keep trolls from hiding there. I love your concept - so did my husband. (The eyes were elevations I made of our plans for the wall.

When I asked about vertical blinds on the Home Decorating forum, there were a lot of people who were anti-vertical, but for the windows and style of this house, I think they are the best solution. Part of some peoples objections were based on cheap industrial metal verticals. These ones have fabric laminated to plastic for the vanes so they are quieter. We popped for the backstaker option so when partially open the stacked vanes are at the edge of the windows. We also like that the blinds can be tilted to block sun when needed while still letting us see the yard and monitor grandchildren on the patio.

Marti8a, we chose to keep the same wood for the cabinets as in the kitchen - natural cherry - because we already have several woods in the area - maple floor, oak breakfast table and counter stools and some dark unidentified wood for some of the original built-ins and breakfast room doors. To differentiate them from the kitchen cabinets (because I didn't want the family room to look like the kitchen had extended into it), so we chose a different door style - a more sophisticated mitered corner raised panel instead of shaker, but still with simple lines and furniture style knobs instead of big kitchen ones.

Here is a link that might be useful: Couch Color thread

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 9:09PM
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Congratulations cloud_swift! I love that last shot especially, what a great space with all that light from the big window and the sliders. Great looking indoor space and great looking outdoor yard view too. Enjoy!

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 9:24PM
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Yeah, congratulations! Love your new space. The sofa and rug are fantastic.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 12:47AM
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Cloud_swift - I'm wondering why you would ever close the shades with a view like that, just gorgeous. Love your fireplace wall transformation and can just imagine how comfy your seating area is. And my, what a nice TV view for you as you prep:). One question: is that a skylight of some sort in the ceiling behind the hood, or just lighting? I've noticed it before and wondered.

P.S. bellsmom-love it!

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 9:57AM
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Glad the color worked out since I was one of the peeps who recommended cognac and I was able to see IRL as we have the same color..

Hard to cover your view - but sometimes it helps with temp control!

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 12:13PM
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NICE furniture (Those Stressless recliners are SO comfy) and what a lovely new fireplace! Congratulations on those rather large final touches!

    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 3:16AM
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Old bat,as a2gemini points out, the shades help with temperature control. The shades are usually open during the day in our mild winters. In the summer, we often have them covering the window but tilted so we can see out through the slats but they block the sun from these West-facing windows. The ability to see out while having some of the sun's heat blocked is a strong factor in favor of blinds for our windows.

At night they also help with lighting the rooms. The windows last night are so black. Closing them makes the room much brighter. In winter, it also helps keep the room a bit more comfortable as they block the cold from the window a bit.

What you see on the kitchen ceiling is a light box for florescent lights. We like the bright even light that they provide for the work area in the kitchen. We resisted suggestions to replace them with a more "modern" approach of putting in can lights - it would take a lot to provide the same light the box provides. We feel the light box is architecturally consistent with our house and looks better here than having so many cans. We have updated the insides of the box to use more modern florescent tubes than the 70's models and we replaced the old yellowed panels with new ones.

This post was edited by cloud_swift on Sun, Jan 13, 13 at 15:09

    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 3:01PM
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