I am a lead carpenter for DBS Remodel, based in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and kitchen remodels are a primary focus of our business. In many of the older homes we work in, however, “kitchen remodel” doesn’t always describe what most people think. Yes, it includes new cabinets and finishes—what you see when we walk away from the job on completion. But so much more goes into it, particularly with an old house, which often requires a great deal of remediation to bring all the elements of the room to a “healthy state”—structurally sound as well as free of water and moisture problems and toxic materials.

That was the case on a job we completed in spring 2023 in a house originally built in the 1930s. In the intervening years, the kitchen had undergone at least four major remodels, possibly more; one of these had enclosed an old porch to expand the kitchen, and a wrap-around deck had been added (though it’s hard to know if the two jobs were concurrent).

On the latest remodel we were called to do, the homeowner wanted to open up the kitchen as much as possible to the rest of the house and make the room feel less confining, but she didn’t have an extra room we could open onto, so we couldn’t change the footprint. The best we could do was open one end to the adjoining living space and raise the ceiling in the part of the room that had been the old porch to create a vaulted area near a new French door that would replace a poorly operating sliding door.

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