Tour My Kitchen with Dan and Carol Wilson

Tour My Kitchen with Dan and Carol Wilson

When Dan and Carol Wilson from DeKalb, Illinois decided to update the kitchen in their 45-year-old house, they wanted to bring the outdoors in. Avid gardeners, the Wilsons had created a yard full of flowers and ferns—not to mention "Wilson's Creek," a fish-stocked pond and stream. With such amazing garden beauty right beyond their back doorstep, they wanted to enjoy it even when they were indoors.

A retired electrician and "wannabe" architect, Dan drafted some possible floor plans for their dream kitchen. Thinking they should get a pro's advice, they visited a few designers, too, but ultimately went with one of Dan's original plans.

Dan's remodeling handiwork did not end with the design. He also did the electrical, plumbing and ductwork, as well as laying the hardwood and tile flooring. One personalized touch Dan added to the kitchen was a built-in docking station for Carol's iPod. "I wanted to incorporate speakers throughout the house," says Dan. "With the docking station, I can hook up the iPod and play it throughout the house and yard."

From start to finish, the project took about 11 months, and the couple was without heat during a frigid Illinois winter. "It got a bit frosty," Dan chuckles. With no working kitchen, they had to set up a makeshift one in their utility room. And because the renovation included destruction of their laundry room, Carol became a regular at the local laundromat. "Not something I ever want to do again!" she says with a laugh.

In the end, though, the shivering and sweat paid off, in the form of a beautiful space. Large windows and glass doors let in tons of natural light and create an open concept so guests sitting in other areas of the house feel connected to the kitchen. "We both love to cook, so we do a lot of entertaining," Carol notes. And the large granite-topped island seats four, which is convenient when the grandkids visit.

As for bringing the outdoors in? "When I'm standing at my sink, I see many of our flowers," Carol says. "And when I'm at the range, I can see the gardens to the left and right, and the pond and stream directly ahead." Mission beautifully accomplished.

Photo Gallery of Dan and Carol Wilson's Kitchen »