If you're a kitchen designer by trade, remodeling your own kitchen should be a breeze. Not necessarily so, says designer Amber Jensen of Whispering Pines,
North Carolina. "I was the toughest client I've ever had." She did 30 revisions of her original plan, in part because she had to satisfy four cooks.
"Cooking in our family is a team effort," she explains. "All four of us—me, my husband Dave and our two children, Jaleigh, 13, and Colton,
10—are usually in the kitchen at the same time. So it had to be a place where we could all gather. "The togetherness during meal prep is just as
important as the actual meal, when we sit down together to hear about one another's day."
That togetherness carried over into the remodel. The whole family helped with the kitchen demolition. The kids hauled out debris, while Mom and Dad
tore down a wall and removed the old, ailing appliances.
"It was important to have the kids help with the hard work, such as tearing off sheetrock and tile, and sweeping up the mess. It was good for them to
see how much work goes into a major renovation, and they learned many skills in the process. They felt rewarded when they saw it all come together."
After the tear-out, the Jensens let the professionals come in and put it back together. The sleek, open look with warm, walnut cabinets and an oak
hardwood floor really appealed to our judges. And the efficiencies are every cook's dream.
One of Amber's favorites is the warming drawer. "I use it every day," she says. "It gives me the chance to cook a meal, set it in the warming drawer
and run to get the kids from volleyball or football practice."
They also added a microwave drawer, an extra sink, convenient pull-out pantry cabinets and spice racks on the doors below the new cooktop. Quartz
countertops with recycled glass accents complement the cabinets.
"I really love the open feel and how it brings everyone together in one big space," Amber says.
"Not only is it beautiful, I also love the way it fits our lifestyle so perfectly."
Amber Jensen Kitchen Drawings (pdf)»
Photo Gallery of Amber and Dave Jensen's Kitchen »
Amber Jensen's Recipe: Broiled Steak Fajitas»