Her ‘Tetris’ cabinets drove her nuts. See what she did to create the a dream kitchen.

Discover 4 remodels that will inspire and give you total kitchen envy

Four kitchens throughout the Treasure Valley underwent major remodels. The results? You'll have to see them for yourself. Read more about these kitchens at
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Four kitchens throughout the Treasure Valley underwent major remodels. The results? You'll have to see them for yourself. Read more about these kitchens at

Susan Marston originally bought her Whitewater Park neighborhood house as a vacation rental. After a divorce, she moved into the 1,400-square-foot home because it is a more manageable size for one — but the kitchen was a problem.

“My friends used to call it the Tetris kitchen,” she says. “I don’t know who designed it, but it was bizarre.”

Marston kitchen before 1
Before: One of the biggest challenges when she bought her 1,400 square foot home near Esther Simplot Park was the “dysfunctional” kitchen, she says. “I’m a cook and I was miserable cooking in it.” The quirky cabinetry had to go, she tore out a half wall that sectioned off the space and added an small island. Provided by Susan Marston

The one row of cabinets was set at different heights, and “there was this huge gap between them and the ceiling, so there was no storage. I’m a cook! It was miserable being in here.”

But with an arsenal of ideas from years of obsessively watching HGTV shows such as “Property Brothers” and mostly “Fixer Upper,” she was more than ready for the challenge.

“Watching Chip and Joanna (Gaines) mix contemporary and rustic pieces showed me how to achieve my desired effect,” she says.

Marston also thought long and hard about how she uses a kitchen, and what she would need to be happy.

It’s important to design for function,” she says. “You can have a beautiful kitchen but it needs to work cohesively.

Homeowner Susan Marston

She worked closely with her friend and contractor Ben Lafon of Boise’s AHW Remodeling and Construction.

“He was so quick,” she says. Everything happened in just a couple of weeks.

Marston didn’t move any major appliances; instead she opted to upgrade them. She bought a package — dishwasher, cooktop, oven, microwave and refrigerator — from Jim’s Appliances in Boise to get the best deal.

She designed her color scheme around the quartz she found for her countertops, Denali quartz by Lucastone. She admits it was expensive, but “it was the first thing I saw when I walked into Francini (Marble & Granite) and nothing else matched up for me,” she says.

So she decided to afford the quartz by looking for bargains in other areas. It just took more effort to shop around.

“I got my sink at Costco, my light fixtures at Home Depot and my glass backsplash at Lowe’s, and saved at least $2,500 doing so, and I got exactly what I wanted,” she says.

She budgeted about $30,000 for the project, but the total, after deciding to redo the flooring, was closer to $45,000.

Marston also had some fun creating a truly personal touch in the area dedicated to her passion for wine collecting.

Marston wine area closer
“The wooden wine box wall sort of came out of nowhere,” Marston says. But really it was a natural after she went for the wine refrigerators. “When I asked Ben (Lafon) what he thought about the wooden box wall backsplash, he was very excited,” she says. “He even added some of his wine boxes to the collage.” Matt Green Provided by Susan Marston

“Before I just had this little white refrigerator and so I would store wine under the house, which is not good,” she says. “I decided to put these two wine fridges in and then I realized I had all these boxes, so I got this idea to do a wine box backsplash. Ben loved the idea and even contributed some of his French wine boxes.”

Marston worked for Hewelett-Packard Co. for 17 years. Then the corporation sold her division to a Canadian software company and she now works for it from home.

Marston kitchen stove wall detail
Susan Marston completely gutted her kitchen to create this “cook’s paradise,” she says. She traded Formica countertops for a gorgeous quartz she found. “Once I saw it, nothing else could compare. I matched it to the wall color and cabinet color and it was perfect, so I didn’t sweat the cost.” Matt Green Provided by Susan Marston

“I’m here everyday and if you had seen what a dysfunctional space this was,” she says. “I come down now every morning now and I just say, ‘Thank God,’” she says. “I have the kitchen of my dreams.”