The Bickenbach Home
A kitchen renovation/expansion was the centerpiece of a project that gave this family some much-needed additional space.
It’s a familiar story: A couple with a growing family starts to feel the squeeze and must decide whether to create more space or find a new house.
After giving it some careful thought, West Medford’s Eileen and Kurt Bickenbach decided they wanted to stay right where they were. So last year, Custom Contracting completed the renovation/ expansion of their kitchen along with adding a mudroom and renovating a half-bathroom.
Loads of Potential
When the Bickenbachs bought their home in 1999, they knew it had potential. It also had a big backyard, which meant there was plenty of room to grow.
With one young child and a baby on the way, Eileen and Kurt realized their kitchen was too small for a family of four. The lack of space meant they usually ate meals in the dining room and that storage was at a real premium. The outdated appliances and linoleum floor didn’t help matters either.
The initial stages of their search for a remodeler did not go well. They were already nervous about spending a significant sum of money, as this was their first renovation. And when one contractor committed to the job and then mysteriously backed out, they began to have even more serious doubts.
Beverly Lividoti, a Custom Contracting client who also lives in West Medford, recommended that Eileen give us a call. General manager Scott Blain paid the Bickenbachs a visit, and they were impressed.
“Scott was so fantastic. He listened to everything we said about how we live in the house and what we envisioned for the project,” said Eileen. “He walked around with us and asked the right questions. When he left, we felt we could trust him and that he could do the job.”
A Complete Gut of the Kitchen
In the home’s original layout, a door off the driveway led directly into the undersized kitchen. Our plan called for converting the entry space into a mudroom by putting up a wall and then expanding the kitchen area into the playroom in the back of the house.
The kitchen renovation involved a complete gut – we ripped out the ceiling and floors, and tore the walls down to the studs. The new hardwood floors and French doors leading to the deck add warmth to the room, while the new appliances bring it into the 21st century. Meanwhile, the red birch cabinets lining two walls have created much more storage space.
Eileen’s favorite feature? The white antique-stained island, which serves as the focal point of the kitchen. Often times, her two kids join her as she prepares meals there.
“We’ve been surprised at how lifechanging this renovation has been,” said Eileen. “It’s really changed the way our family lives in the house. We hang out in the kitchen a lot more, and entertaining is so much easier.”
The Communication Was Excellent
The Bickenbachs chose to stay with Eileen’s mother during the renovation. While living away from home is never easy, Eileen said Custom Contracting at least minimized their anxiety.
“The big thing we worried about with the renovation was the stress. But we had none because Custom Contracting was there to answer every question,” she said. “If you’re going through your first renovation and putting so much money into your house, you fear the worst. But the communication with Custom was excellent. Scott kept checking in on the project to make sure we were happy.”
Eileen also praised the work of certified lead carpenter Tom Culkins, who managed the project.
“Tom was great,” she said. “He built the kitchen almost all by himself. If I had any concerns, he was there with answers. Very calm, low-key and relaxed.”
We’ve already begun work on a new project for the Bickenbachs: converting a porch into a home office. Sometime soon, they also want to add a master bedroom and bathroom in addition to renovating an existing bathroom.
“And we’ll go with Custom for that too,” said Eileen. “For us, there’s no point in looking for anyone else. There’s no one else we could trust more or who would do a better job.”