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PICS: A makeover that doesn't overpower your home

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Washington - Amy Dibner and husband Bruce Marshall share a love of mid-century modern furnishings and decor.

Which is precisely what they did when expanding their small Cape Cod house to accommodate a larger kitchen and dining area, a sunroom.

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The sitting room of the Marshall/Dibner home has the original exterior wall of the house preserved. A window has been repurposed as shelving. Washington Post photo by Katherine Frey.Bruce Marshall and Amy Dibner enlarged the footprint of their Cape Cod-style home with a rear addition. Washington Post photo by Katherine Frey.With the addition, a dining area was incorporated into the plan. Washington Post photo by Katherine Frey.The couple paid $625 000 for their home in 2007, and the addition, completed late in 2015, cost $440 000, including a master bathroom renovation, a new patio, fencing and professional landscaping. Washington Post photo by Katherine Frey.

Dibner and Marshall were clear on what they wanted: an addition that would complement and not overpower their home.

The main goal was to create an uninterrupted flow of space in the kitchen, dining area and sunroom.

The original kitchen and dining area are now devoted to an open dining area and a wall of pantry shelving and closets.

The new addition includes hardwood flooring sanded to match the original flooring. A large centre island includes dark cabinetry and a white quartz top that matches the countertops. A gray-and-white tile backsplash extends to the upper cabinets on one wall. Dibner and Marshall chose stainless-steel appliances for their clean lines and efficiency. 

Dibner requested plenty of drawers for lower storage, including numerous drawers on the island. She picked handles from Ikea that are simple in design and blend with both the dark and light cabinets.

"We asked to have the island raised to bar table height since we're both tall," says Marshall. "It's easier to cook that way, and we've found our friends like to stand at the island, too."

The island includes electrical outlets to make it easier to work on a laptop in the space, too. The outlets throughout the kitchen are hidden under cabinets and below countertop edges.

Orange and steel modern bar stools add a pop of colour to the space and pick up on the adjacent exposed brick wall, which has been painted orange. This was the original exterior wall of the house and now forms the back wall of the sunroom.

"We wanted to keep the window from the exterior of the house to bring in natural light to the bedroom," says Dibner. "

In addition to carefully placing studs in the exterior wall to match the places where Dibner wanted to attach shelves, the design included space for a folded dining table she found on the 1stdibs website.

"I knew I wanted a big table that could accommodate as many as 12 people so we could have big family gatherings and entertain, but I didn't want that table taking up space all the time," says Dibner. "The table fits perfectly into the dining area when we're ready to use it."

The table folds up to a depth of six inches and, when not in use, functions as a shelf that complements the midcentury modern shelving purchased from Design Within Reach.

Tips for a successful remodel:

  • Start by educating yourself about what you like and dislike so you have an idea of what you want before you start the project.
  • Interview several potential contractors and choose someone you feel comfortable working with and who you trust to be in your home for a few months.
  • Consider hiring a design-build company that will work within your budget and explain what it will cost if you want to increase the scope of your project.
  • Ask references about their experience, especially with keeping a consistent schedule.
  • Ask how much of the work will be done in-house and how much will be done by subcontractors. The more subcontractors you have, the higher the likelihood of schedule disruptions.
  • Expect the unexpected. Once you open up your house, you'll often find additional problems to address.
  • Be ready to make a lot of decisions – both minor and major.
  • You may be able to benefit from economies of scale if you opt to do several projects at once, and you'll definitely avoid the hassle of multiple separate renovation projects.
  • Keep your neighbours informed about what's happening at your house.

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