Lessons From the Butterman Kitchen Remodel

We just finished one of the most enjoyable projects we’ve ever worked on.  I love this business… creating something out of nothing, or recreating something out of something else provides a satisfaction that’s hard to match.  What makes this process even better is the opportunity to work with great people and see their vision come to life.

This kitchen remodel for Norman and Marilyn Butterman was one of those projects.  Their story is definitely worth sharing…

Mr. & Mrs. Butterman have lived in their home in Greenwood Village for a couple decades.  The house is about 35 years old, and most of the finishes were original (before we got our hands on them!).  They’re very pragmatic and despise waste. (A lesson we could probably all learn from).

At any rate, they decided several months ago that it might be time to update the tile in their kitchen, foyer and powder room – and while they were at it, the kitchen was due for a makeover too.  Their white 8×8 tile floors had been cracking for years – not the grout – the tile was actually cracking (we discovered the cause was 1/4″ plywood backer – don’t let your tile guy install tile over wood without a mortar bed please!).  Their kitchen was dated; dark brown cabinets, white tile countertops (which were cracking too), dropped ceiling in the kitchen, cramped layout – basically, dark & cramped.  And darn-it if I didn’t forget to take ‘before’ pictures!

The kitchen was functional, but needed some help to make the space more usable.  Counter space was at a premium and range was nowhere near the prep space.  Cabinet space was also difficult to come by.  Basically the layout needed some help.

The Buttermans took the attitude that if they were going to spend the money to update their kitchen, they would keep their eye on practicality, but also make sure their updates would be good for years to come.  This meant over-ruling some of my suggestions in favor of finishes they felt have greater staying power.  Mostly though, it meant selecting solid products that would last for decades.

Here are their selections:

  • Flooring: Dal-Tile Pietre Vechiee 20×20 tiles with 1/8″ grout joints. I love it when tile manufacturers make quality natural-stone/granite/travertine products out of porcelains.  They are generally much more affordable, scratch-resistant, lower maintenance, and give almost the same look and feel as the real thing.  The natural stone look was important to the Buttermans because it’s a look that doesn’t go out of style. 
  • Cabinets: Aristokraft Westbury in a natural oak finish – upgraded ‘select’ construction with full extension dove-tailed drawers.  Oak cabinets meant durability to the Buttermans.  I did my best to persuade them to select a maple or cherry cabinet in a different door style because I felt that it would provide them with a more current look and would appeal to more people if they ever wanted to sell.  They assured me they didn’t have any plans to sell the house and they wanted what they wanted.  Can’t argue with that!
  • Countertops: 3cm Golden Crystal slab granite with a double roundover edge.  They loved this granite from the moment they saw it.  I had my doubts at first, but there is no arguing with the finished product!  It’s beautiful!
  • Doors & Trim: 6-panel hemlock fir doors in a natural finish.  The old doors were really dark.  The new doors are very light.  They blend very well and keep the room light and fresh.
  • Baseboard: Dal-Tile Pietre Vechiee 3×13 bullnose tile.  Classy, clean, and very easy to maintain.
  • Appliances: They insisted that if they were going to remodel the kitchen, they wanted the newest technology in appliances.  How many 80-yr. old couples do you know who are willing to learn how to use an oven that can cook 8 times faster than conventional ovens?  These two are awesome!

    • Cooktop: GE 30″ Induction Cooktop in stainless steel (you can boil a pot of water in 30 seconds with this cooktop!)
    • Oven: GE Trivection Oven in stainless steel (traditional, convection, and microwave technologies combine to cook up to 5 times faster than conventional ovens!)
    • Microwave: GE Advantium Microwave in stainless steel (doubles as an oven and a microwave AND has speedcook technology to cook up to 8 times faster than regular ovens!)
    • Fridge: Kept their existing stainless steel side by side with bottom freezer.  A great upgrade from a couple years ago.
    • Dishwasher: Kept existing white dishwasher.  Despite my best efforts, they wanted to keep the existing dishwasher because it was only a couple years old.  I told you, they are very practical.

  • Lighting: We added 6 fluorescent can lights and relocated the ceiling fan.  They kept their existing breakfast nook light, and over-the-sink light.  =)
  • Sink/Faucet: Kept existing stainless steel sink, but had it undermounted under the granite.  Kept existing stainless steel faucet which was a very cool traditional design to begin with.

One of the ways we tackled their space issue was by adding a peninsula to their kitchen layout.  There really was not room for an island, but we made a peninsula work and it added valuable countertop and cabinet space.  In addition, it provided a more central food prep area and also gave easy access to their refrigerator for putting groceries away.

There was only one problem with this new layout – the fridge took up their old desk space.  They needed a spot to have their phone and computer.  So, we removed some dated columns separating the breakfast nook from the living room, and added a corner cabinet with a granite-topped halfwall.  It required moving some wire, but it freed up the space they needed in the kitchen, and fulfilled their need for a simple desk area.

In addition to the remodel, they also had us help them with a few other projects around the house that they’d put off for a while.  One of which was building a custom mail box (to look like their house).

All in all, it was a great project for a great customer.  Thanks Mr. & Mrs. Butterman for the project, and for the excellent recommendation too (see Butterman Testimonial )!