At Home in Arkansas: This room feels so light and airy. But since your home is a 1940s bungalow, I’m guessing it wasn’t always this way.
Homeowner Sheb Fisher: It was a very small space before the renovation, with a tiny cooking area, a breakfast space and even a washer and dryer at the end of the room.
When you and your husband, Danny, decided to renovate, what did you have in mind?
We have always spent a lot of time in the kitchen and it was important to us to make it feel more open and inviting, creating a gathering place where we could all be comfortable. Since the house is small and only has one living area, we wanted to have an additional place to relax. We envisioned a large island with seating as well as a banquette area as ways to create more gathering spaces, and we wanted a higher ceiling so it felt more open and light. Adding storage was a priority as well, since the tiny cooking area didn’t have adequate cabinet space.
What was your inspiration for the renovated room?
I pulled pictures from various magazines over the years and began to see a common theme as I looked back—white kitchens, banquettes, shiplap wood walls, glass-front cabinets. We managed to incorporate all of these elements plus the wonderful wooden rafter beams.
Another goal was to maintain the home’s bungalow style, and during the renovation, we tried to keep in mind the character of the house. The simple lines of the cabinetry, the wooden rafters and the lighting helped to tie it into the rest of our home.
Walk us through the logistics of the renovation and how you transformed this room.
Danny and I took our ideas to architect and contractor Chris Milligan, who helped us refine our concepts and create a final plan, and then we worked with Chris on the construction. We bumped out both exterior walls, adding about seven feet to the width and five feet to the length, and we vaulted the ceiling into the attic space to make it feel much more open. We had previously turned an old garage in our backyard into a guesthouse, and with this renovation, we created a courtyard garden between the kitchen and the guest space. We also removed the solid wall to the dining area and replaced it with a glass-front cabinet as a partial divider, which helped increase the flow of natural light into the dining room.
With the variety of service areas in the new kitchen—a wet bar, a cooking zone, the island and the banquette area—it looks like you were able to add ample storage as well.
Yes, we have a wide variety of storage areas now, keeping kitchen essentials in the cooking section and using the large built-in cabinet near the banquette for everything else, from my art supplies to brooms and dustpans.
Did you encounter any interesting twists or surprises during the process?
Our contractor, Chris, surprised us by making our farmhouse table out of wood removed from the attic. And the banquette seating area turned out even better than we envisioned, becoming one of our favorite spaces to sit, visit, eat and hang out. Also, the back patio area became a natural extension of the kitchen and therefore created yet another usable space for relaxing or entertaining. We gained more than just square footage—we gained a variety of living areas as well.
Architect/contractor Chris Milligan, Dwellings Inc., Little Rock, (501) 831-0729, dwellings-ar.com
Design Sheb Fisher, Cynthia East Fabrics, Little Rock, (501) 663-0460, cynthiaeastfabrics.com
Appliances Metro Appliances & More, Jonesboro, (870) 933-7800; North Little Rock, (501) 758-1988; Springdale, (479) 750-2200; metroappliancesandmore.com
Countertops Inside Effects, Little Rock, (501) 954-8866, inside-effects.com
Fabrics, upholstery, window treatments Cynthia East Fabrics, Little Rock, (501) 663-0460, cynthiaeastfabrics.com
Flooring Ken Holmes Floor Co., Little Rock, (501) 663-7868
Tile Acme Brick, Tile & Stone, North Little Rock, (501) 812-5574, Fort Smith, (479) 782-7974, Russellville, (479) 968-6900, acmebricktileandstone.com
Windows Ace Glass, Little Rock, (501) 372-0595, aceglass.net