Robert Myers

Designer Darcy Bean Sr. was able to take this small, dark kitchen from bland to grand by vaulting the ceiling and removing a wall. The homeowners didn't want to move any of the existing doors or windows but were willing to expand into the adjacent mudroom. The judges said the expansion, both out and up, creates a dramatic room that is the focus of the remodel. “The big move that makes it not just another boring kitchen is that the designer was willing to loft the space and put beadboard on the ceiling,” one judge said.

Bean added a warm and earthy feel with a combination of cherry cabinets, granite countertops, wood flooring, wood ceiling, and a stone fireplace. He included a high-end touch with custom bookcases on both sides of the fireplace. The panel agreed that the manufactured-stone fireplace at the opposite end of the room creates the perfect balance to the heavy kitchen cabinets. Bean also remedied the lack of light with recessed lights, under-cabinet halogen lighting, and rope light on top of the cabinets for ambient lighting.

Category: Kitchen remodeling, under $50,000
Location: Mahomet, Ill.
Contractor and designer: Darcy Bean Sr., Darcy Bean Custom Construction, Champaign, Ill.