Home & Garden

Boise homeowners decide their kitchen has to go. Check out the remodel.

So you’ve got a problem with harvest gold countertops, dark wood paneling and fake brick vinyl floors that never look clean no matter how much you scrub? Kitchen design circa the 1970s is not your thing?

Frank and JamieLou Delavan are with you. So much so that they’ve invested three months of sweat equity and around $60,000 to speed their disco-era kitchen into the 21st century.

They’ve remodeled just in time to sell the Collister neighborhood home they’ve lived in for 15 years. The good news is, with their sleek and spacious new kitchen in place, they’ll actually be able to attract a potential buyer. Or two. Or way more.

“The 1970s kitchen wasn’t going to help us sell this house,” said Frank Delavan, a former Hewlett-Packard executive who now runs a home inspection business. “I knew the kitchen needed to be done.

“The goal was to start in March, finish in spring when people are out looking for a great home for a family. When people walk in and see the kitchen and the backyard and the deck, it meant the value of the home was going to come up.”

The Delavans’ Northwest Boise home was one of nine featured on the recent 2017 Remodeled Homes Tour sponsored by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s Idaho chapter.

After 15 years in their four-bedroom home on a tree-filled acre, the Delavans knew it was time to scale back. Their son and daughter were long gone. They were living in a fraction of their beloved two-story house. And they knew this was not the best structure in which to grow old.

But there was one big barrier on the road to a new home: that creaky kitchen.

“It was cramped and dark and hard to move around,” said JamieLou Delavan, cultural liaison for the state Department of Health and Welfare’s public health division. “I’ve been wanting to take down the wall between the dining room and the kitchen for several years. ... And I’ve been wanting to take down some of the cabinetry hanging from the ceiling for quite awhile as well.”

When they finally decided it was time to act, the Delavans called Sarah Cunningham at Ethos Design + Remodel + Real Estate in Boise. Cunningham had worked with the couple on their 2013 master bathroom remodel. She knew the kitchen had to go, and she knew the Delavans were skilled enough to pitch in and help keep costs down.

“Typically, I don’t let the homeowners do a lot of work because it can really cause some issues down the road,” Cunningham said. “This was an exception.”

Getting started

Step one was demolition. The Delavans ripped up carpet, tore up floors and smashed through the wall separating the dining room from the kitchen. They took out the kitchen ceiling, which had been lowered by a previous owner to accommodate different lighting. They pried up the dated maroon tile from the home’s entryway.

The house had been built in 1949 and added to in the ’70s, and “whoever put up all of the cabinetry and whatever else loved really long nails and screws,” JamieLou Delavan said. “Here’s me, like, ‘We are going to salvage these ... maybe somebody else would like them, could do something with them.’ But it’s like, we cannot get these things off the wall.”

Needless to say, the cabinetry did not survive the remodel, although the couple salvaged doors and some aging hardwood flooring.

Blending a new kitchen into a nearly 70-year-old house with bad 1970s updates spurred a lot of discussion among the homeowners and remodelers.

“You walk into the living room and you very much see 1949, arched doorways, cove ceilings,” Frank Delavan said. “We were going to knock this wall [between kitchen and living room] down and put a beam up. But then we lose the character of that room, because we’re modernizing the kitchen.”

In the end, that wall stayed, along with an arched doorway between the two rooms that served as an entryway between old and new. Nearly everything else, however, was updated.

The new look

The faux brick flooring was replaced with luxury vinyl plank in soft gray, patterned to resemble end-grain wood. The dark, dated cabinets gave way to clean, white, Shaker-style cupboards. The wall between the kitchen and dining room was removed to make the area more spacious.

A backsplash of bright white subway tile was installed, along with a stainless steel farmhouse sink. And the harvest gold counters? Think modern black quartz.

Goodbye, 1970s. Hello, 2017, and a chance for the Delavans to sell their home and move on.

With an updated kitchen, Cunningham said, “you’re broadening your market when you go to sell. There are a lot of people who want to walk into a turnkey, existing, updated home.”

Because “the power is in negotiating,” said Cunningham, who will list the remodeled home for sale in mid-June. “If you have a kitchen and it needs a serious overhaul — and this one did — you have people who can really negotiate you down for that.

“Now, we’re in a strong position. I’m really happy with how it turned out.”

So are the Delavans.

Remodeling tips

Remodeling your kitchen can be a life-changing experience — and not always for the good. But knowing what to expect can help you endure the disruption, said JamieLou and Frank Delavan.

▪  If you stay in your home during the remodeling process, JamieLou Delavan said, “there’s going to be dust.” Cordon off the affected rooms with plastic sheeting to keep it contained.

▪  Don’t forget the pets. The construction turned the Delavans’ cocker spaniels, Mable and Della, cranky. “If you have pets, be aware of keeping as much the same as you can during the chaos of the noise and the changes,” she said.

▪  Set up a backup kitchen in a pantry or spare room. The Delavans, luckily, had a separate bar where they could wash dishes and plug in a microwave.

▪  “For me, the big takeaway was project management,” said Frank Delavan. “You really have to plan. ... Set a date. It’s a go. You’re going to be displaced for anywhere between 90 and 120 days.”