Before & After: A Complete Kitchen Makeover

House hunting. An exciting life event that is simultaneously one of the most stressful things you can do. Luckily, Megan Aeling is a realtor for Fox Homes & Realty, so when she and her husband, Eric, started looking for a house fall of 2020, they knew what to expect. They toured several homes and made several offers only to have them snatched off the market before their eyes. Despite the initial disappointments of losing property offers the two agree they ended up finding the right home—things always have a way of working out.

The house they bought had been sitting on the market for a while and had already had a price reduction. The Minnetonka home needed renovations but with an open entryway, spacious bedrooms, and a functional main floor layout, major structural changes wouldn’t be required. The kitchen especially was spacious. “We loved that we could see right to the dining and living room while standing in the kitchen,” Megan says. “With two young kids that is a blessing, we can always see what they are up to and that they aren’t getting into too much trouble!” They submitted a low offer and were surprised when they got accepted. They closed in January of 2021 and got to work.

Eric performed most of the remodel work himself, as a project manager and one of the founders of Mission Construction, coordinating a kitchen construction project was nothing new to him. However, kitchen remodels can be disruptive even with the most careful planning. 

“Eric worked on the kitchen when he had time outside of his job so we had to be patient and flexible,” Megan says. “We set up a temporary kitchen in the playroom and did dishes in the bathroom. Despite these discomforts, it was so fun to see the progress he made each weekend.”

When they bought the house they hadn’t planned on a full kitchen remodel, just minor updates. They ended up fully gutting the kitchen with upgraded appliances, new lighting fixtures, hardwood floors, countertops, cabinets, and subway tile backsplash. 

The kitchen had a cased opening wall to the dining room that was not load bearing. They decided to remove that wall to make one large room. “We also really wanted a center island instead of a peninsula. We didn’t know if it was possible because, although the kitchen was spacious, it was on the narrower side. We knew we could get an island down the middle but didn’t know how we could fit stools.” In the end, their cabinet designer, Kona Cabinetry, helped them come up with the solution of seating on the end of the island that could be pushed under the countertop. 

Figuring out the right layout—and figuring out where costs could be cut—was the most difficult part of the project. “We were initially going to have two pantry cabinets but saved money by only getting one. We also added a thicker crown at the top of the cabinets to reduce cost.”

Kona Cabinetry presented renderings after Megan and Eric told them the look and feel they were going for. Originally they wanted to go with timeless white cabinets. Kona suggest a matte black, which was a bolder design choice. But paired with sleek gold hardware it gave the kitchen a modern and streamlined look.

“We ended up loving the look of the black cabinets,” Megan says. “But if anyone is considering doing the same, they should know that the black finish shows dust and fingerprints more easily. We were told this but I underestimated it!” 

Like any home project, not everything goes to plan. Eric spent a long time trying to remove the original tile flooring, which was very thick and laid in a bed of concrete. “When remodeling a home, it’s important to be patient and know that there will be unexpected changes, challenges, and costs that come up,” Megan comments. 

The end result of their makeover is a fresh and modern kitchen that’s both stylish and functional with tons of storage and countertop space.

Today, the Aeling’s new kitchen is the center point of their house when hosting. “That was part of the reason we wanted to buy our house, we saw the space and the potential to be able to have friends and family gather together,” Megan says.

For more home remodel stories, tips, and ideas, follow Project Remodel on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest

Photos were completed by Andrea Dobbs.

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