Project Description

Ellen Robie’s mother is a professional kitchen designer. So Ellen and her husband Fred already had some pretty clear ideas in mind for their new kitchen. When it came time to bring their vision to life, they turned to Custom.

Previously, we had completed bathroom and porch projects for the Robies. They appreciated our professionalism and attention to detail, and called us again to discuss their kitchen.

While the kitchen was in pretty good shape, it really needed a refresh (particularly the 1970s-era cabinets). And Ellen had never been happy with the layout.

“The prior owners updated the kitchen in 2000, but it was really tired,” she says. “Some key features were missing, such as the exhaust from the stove wasn’t routed outside. But the layout was the biggest thing. The stove and sink were on opposite sides of the room, and the dishwasher wasn’t next to the sink. There wasn’t much storage either.”

The Robies came to us with a floor plan. Their approach was to open up the kitchen into what had been a bedroom, and to transform that abutting room into a family room.

An Extensive Renovation

Meeting the Robies’ goals required an extensive renovation, which involved all of this and more:
– Relocating appliance locations and installing new appliances
– Replacing cabinets, countertops and flooring
– Relocating and updating electrical, plumbing and heating components
– Installing new interior finishes
– Widening the opening between the kitchen and dining room
– Taking down and insulating walls

One of the trickiest aspects of our work was addressing some structural issues that emerged mid-project. In one case, we discovered a previously installed window lacked the proper support above it. In another case, we had to be creative in strengthening some ceiling joists and a structural beam that had been compromised.

“Custom worked with us to solve those problems – safely and within budget,” Ellen notes.

Kudos for Eric

Ellen praised production manager Eric Forgues, the onsite manager. Besides being personable, detail-oriented and easygoing, she says, he was great about problem solving. For instance, Ellen and Fred found a beautiful but large hutch at a salvage shop in New Hampshire. It later arrived at their home in two pieces.

“Eric said, ‘We’ll find a way to get that upstairs and installed,'” recalls Ellen. “It wasn’t easy. But he got it cleaned up, in working condition and as square and level as it could be. It looks terrific and has become the focal point of the kitchen.”

Eric also helped figure out a solution for the new peninsula on the side of the kitchen. The Robies wanted to use a heavy piece of black granite, but providing adequate support was a concern. “Eric worked out the details so that two relatively thin legs would do the job, which has given us the open, airy look we were looking for,” offers Ellen.

Now that Ellen and Fred have had some time to enjoy their new kitchen, they couldn’t be happier with the results. As Ellen points out, it’s even made their lives a little easier.

“I love how open the space is,” she says. “Now we have a family room where the kids can play and a peninsula where they can sit, eat, color and not be underfoot while we’re cooking on the other side of the kitchen.”

Project Details

Client The Robie Home
Location Arlington, MA