A remodel that was the difference between life and death

March 30, 2009

Jim Lillibridge had only been home from heart surgery for three days before he suffered some complications. A wire implanted in his heart had come loose and was emitting shocks into Jim’s body. Jim, Sgt. 1st Class, US Army, retired, said, “I thought I was having a heart attack.” His wife, Boni, called paramedics. When they arrived at the 1960’s ranch, the stretcher couldn’t make the 90 degree turn in the only hallway to the master bedroom where Jim was. Luckily, Jim was able make the short walk to the stretcher. But, they knew something had to be done if they were going to stay living in this house.

Retiree Boni Lillibridge, knew her 1960’s kitchen badly needed rejuvenation. Boni’s a great cook and baker who loves cooking for Jim. They have a big extended family, her kids, his kids, all the grandkids, and her dark, narrow kitchen offered little counter space, little storage space and the appliances were outdated. The stove was electric and the oven was only 24”. 

Boni came to a seminar at Borchert Building Company called “How Much Should a Good Kitchen Cost?” to explore her kitchen remodel and to find professional contractor. At the seminar, she not only learned a lot about the kitchen remodel process, she found that owner, Bill Borchert was a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS). It was important to both Boni and Jim to have a professional fix their traffic flow problems as well as modernize their kitchen.

Bill Borchert’s challenge was to redesign the floor plan, keeping the footprint of the house but making a clear path to the master bedroom while turning the cramped, dark kitchen into a light, bright, cooking, baking, eating, gathering space.

“While design is the least expensive part of the remodel process," says Denise Borchert, office manager of Borchert Building Company, “its probably the most important part. We always emphasize this in our seminars. This is where the costly mistakes can be avoided with proper planning. We like to ask a lot of questions, how many cooks are there? Are you left-handed or right-handed? Do you do a lot of entertaining? These questions help us determine the client’s personal style and solutions for their lifestyle – we just don’t build the traditional work triangle concept.”

Borchert completely gutted the kitchen, removed the wall that separated the kitchen from the dining room and created a peninsula that hosts a sink, food prep area and a spacious snack bar. He closed off the now unnecessary doorway leading into the living room. In its place, he constructed a wall for a cook top with a custom wood hood creating a dramatic focal point. At the time the home was built, most kitchens had an area with a table and four chairs. Knowing the homeowners are empty nesters, Borchert eliminated the rarely used nook and installed a pantry, base cabinets and the double ovens that Boni desired. When the extended family gathers, the peninsula doubles as a serving counter, a seating area and openly flows into the dining room.

Boni wanted a bit of a nod to the traditional flair in her kitchen, without being too stogy. They decided on off-white, painted maple cabinets with a chocolate glaze, Cambria Quartz in Ashford and maple flooring to finish it off. A simple ceramic backsplash compliments the soft white cabinets and the chocolate brown accent wall adds dramatic beauty. Corbels on the island gave the kitchen that little bit of flair.

“Natural light makes a big difference in a kitchen,” says Bill Borchert. He dropped in a solar tube to provide the natural light the kitchen sorely needed. Knowing that that you can never have too much light in the kitchen, Borchert incorporated task lighting and under the cabinet lighting into the new design.

In creating the clear path to the bedroom that the couple needed, Borchert installed a door from the garage, which never had an entry door into the house. He installed a new pocket door that leads directly into the master bedroom which is separated from the kitchen by a small mud room. Now it was a straight shot along the back of the house into the master bedroom.

Everyone got what they wanted in this project – Boni got her warm, beautiful, comfy kitchen where the extended families can gather and she can create spectacular meals, and Jim can now rest assured that if an emergency occurs, their safety is guaranteed.

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