Refresh Your Look

01 Mar 2015

Building. Remodeling. Updating. All projects begin with a dream. Find your inspiration with these four amazing makeovers


  Signature Kitchens of Charleston

Authentic Kitchen & Bath Concepts

What’s the best way to take an outdated and inefficient kitchen and, without making any major changes to the layout, transform it into a modern monument to beauty and function? Ask designer Brenda Romito, who overcame some interesting hurdles on a project she completed in the I’On neighborhood in Mount Pleasant.

“We were doing a remodel for the new homeowners. The home was less than a year old, and the cabinetry was of inferior quality,” said Romito, who is with Authentic Kitchen & Baths Concepts. “They knew they wanted to change the cabinets, but we had to stay within the existing footprint and keep the existing appliances because everything was brand new.”

One major challenge, since the new cabinets reached almost to the 12-foot ceiling, was devising a way to make the upper cabinets both pleasing to the eye and easy to access. Romito solved this problem by adding into the mix an 8-and-a-half-foot ladder that can be hooked to rails installed around the perimeter of the room. The ladder slides sideways along the rails so the homeowners can get to items stored in the upper cabinets.

“It serves a purpose and is a really nice design feature,” said Romito, who added that she also made a permanent “home” for the ladder on the dining room wall.

“That was my first time using that design concept, but I’ll most likely do it again soon. I’m happy with the way it turned out,” she commented. “Otherwise, the homeowners would have had to bring in a huge ladder every time they needed something from the upper cabinets.”

Another hurdle Romito faced was dealing with the issue of height. The wife stands 5 feet, 7 inches tall, while the husband at 6 feet, 4 inches, was having an interesting and somewhat painful problem: He was hitting his head on the vent hood over the range. Romito raised the hood so it was close enough to the range to work efficiently but high enough to suit the man of the house.

The new cabinets have a Moonglow (off white) painted finish and Macadamia (brown) highlight and glaze, are 48-inches high on the bottom and 24-inches high on the top, and have beaded inset doors. The project also improved the look of the kitchen by replacing the painted ceiling with traditional tin ceiling tiles with a copper finish, according to Rejean Gregoire, who established Authentic Kitchen & Bath Concepts 15 years ago.

The pine floors were also refinished and all the countertops were replaced with galaxy black granite, and the top of the island with Bacurau granite. In addition to seating for four people, the island features a microwave drawer and cabinets.

According to Romito, since the pattern movement on the granite needed to be centered properly on the island countertop to match the backsplash perfectly, she made a visit to the fabricator when the piece was being cut.

The 3-inch by 6-inch Subway tile that makes up the backsplash, “is really special,” she said. Romito went with an off-white neutral Chamomile crackle finish “to kind of blend with everything,” and she also selected matching 4-inch by 7-inch harlequin tiles accented with bronze pins, and 2-inch by 12-inch bronze liner framing the areas over the sink and range. The bronze liner was continued around the perimeter of the kitchen, “so it all tied together.”

“I wanted a pattern but I wanted something that wasn’t overpowering,” Romito commented.

She pointed out that the black countertops feature copper flecks to match the backsplash and the top of the island. The wood on the island is Liberty Bell, a warm brown stain on maple that is repeated in the sink cabinetry.

Gregoire, whose son, Jonathan, also works in the business, pointed out that the ladder made for a project you don’t see every day, at least for most companies.

“It was an unusual project, but it wasn’t really unusual for us,” he commented.

Authentic Kitchen & Bath Concepts

2457-5 Ashley River Road, Charleston


Jilco Kitchen and Bath

Remodeling an entire kitchen can be a difficult task, especially if the homeowners plan to remain in their house during the entire project. The job becomes even harder if you have to depend on the schedule of other contractors who must complete their work before you can dig in and get to yours. And, to add just a little bit more pressure, if your client is a contractor himself, he is probably going to scrutinize your work with a more discerning eye.

Designer Savannah Classen of Jilco Kitchen and Bath faced these issues with a project she completed recently on Freeman Street in Mount Pleasant’s Old Village. The project took six to eight months to finish, mostly because the new kitchen was part of an addition to the home, as was an upstairs bedroom. The homeowners, a builder and his family, chose to stay in the house while the renovation work was going on.

The entire kitchen, now twice the size of the original, was moved from the old part of the house to the new section. The focal point of the bright new room is a brick hood that surrounds the range, extending from the ceiling all the way to the floor and built by the homeowner. Jilco’s job was to provide the cabinetry for the perimeter of the room as well as for a good-sized island. Jilco also built custom doors for the oversized refrigerator and installed crown molding in the kitchen and in the adjoining family room.

In designing the kitchen, Classen said her aim was to make certain the brick hood remained as the center of attention in the room. Along those lines, she avoided stainless steel appliances “that would have taken away from the brick as the focal point and from the beautiful glass doors.”

The white upper cabinets on the perimeter are frameless, “one of my favorite door styles,” according to Classen. Four of them, and two more in the butler’s pantry, have glass fronts accented with mullions, a style preferred by the builder’s wife. The bottom cabinets are attractive as well as practical. Two of them have organizers, while another 27-inch base cabinet is the perfect home for a built-in microwave.

The 110-inch by 60-inch island is functional as well. It serves as a substantial kitchen table, of course, but it also hides a dishwasher, a trash pullout and 18-inch cabinets all the way around. Classen pointed out that the doors on the island differ from those in the rest of the kitchen.

“I wanted a completely different style of door on the island to set it apart from the perimeter,” she commented. “I wanted to give it a heavier look, so it would look more like a piece of furniture.”

Jilco also created the four posts that support the island, with vertical lines designed to mimic the style of the island’s doors. The color of the distressed wood Classen chose for both the doors and the posts is creekstone.

Were there other challenges in completing this project other than making the brick hood the focal point? Just a few come to mind, according to Classen. She said she had to design a place for the refrigerator – at 42 inches, a little wider than standard – and then find a good use for the small counter space created in a corner of the kitchen by the width of the refrigerator. She also had to make sure the wine chiller and other appliances fit perfectly with the cabinets.

And then there were the glass doors, created by Jilco to match the drawers and cabinets provided by the company’s manufacturers.

“The client loved the mullions, and we had to create them to match the door styles,” Classen explained.

Jilco Kitchen and Bath

2300 Clements Ferry Road, Charleston


Mevers Kitchens & Baths

It’s not uncommon for people who buy a house to do everything they can to put their own personal stamp on the new home. In many cases, they will go to the expense of undertaking a total remodeling project shortly after they purchase a home, giving their new place of residence a personality that fits their likes, and the way they live. Such was the case recently in Wild Dunes, the high-end subdivision that sits on the northeast corner of the Isle of Palms.

The home, located on Waterway Island, was given a complete makeover, courtesy of contractors that included Mevers Kitchens & Baths, a Mount Pleasant-based company that has been making area homes look like new since 2002. Mevers helped give the five-bedroom home a modern, improved look by replacing all the cabinets and countertops in the kitchen, five bathrooms and the laundry room, and handling a few other important upgrades as well withcustom home builders charleston sc .

Chris Mevers, who joined his father, Billy, in the business six years ago, explained that the company installed inset cabinets manufactured by Centra Cabinetry, giving the home a “fancier, richer look.” Mevers is the only Centra dealer East of the Cooper.

“We didn’t change the layout very much. We just gave the kitchen and bathrooms a nice, updated look,” said Mevers.

In the kitchen, Mevers tore out the 22-year-old cabinetry and replaced it with modern stacked cabinets that reach all the way to the 10-foot ceiling. The bottom pieces are divinity, one of six shades of white offered by Centra, while the tops are glass, with custom hoods and lights in and under the cabinets.

Mevers said he and his co-workers faced one unusual challenge as the project progressed. He pointed out that, as is normally the case, the new cabinets were ordered from the manufacturer before the old ones were torn out. This usually isn’t a problem. However, when one of the kitchen cabinets was removed, it revealed plumbing from an upstairs bathroom. That sent Mevers back to the drawing board, at least temporarily. Undeterred, he dealt with the issue at-hand, as they do occasionally crop-up in the remodeling business and moved on.

“It actually went pretty smoothly,” Mevers commented.

He added that the project included some minor layout changes that were aimed at improving the functionality of the kitchen. For example, they moved the bar from one side of the room to the other, and relocated the space for the microwave/oven and pantry to produce a continuous, 20-foot-long countertop.

Meanwhile, moving the bar provided more work space around the sink.

In another nod to making the kitchen more practical, Mevers installed stacked drawers instead of doors “wherever we could.”

“The kitchen is more functional because there’s more counter space now,” Mevers said. “Before it was broken into three different sections. By moving the pantry, we opened up the kitchen and gave it a better look for sure.”

And, to simply make the kitchen look better, the company put in new door panels that match the cabinets on the homeowners’ Sub-Zero refrigerator.

Beauty and functionality were important aspects of the work Mevers did on the rest of the house as well. They removed and replaced storage areas in the five bathrooms by adding drawers and substituted all the vanities, which were 30 inches high, with 36-inch-high replacements. And in the laundry room, the 42-inch cabinets are deeper than they normally would be to make it easier to access them.

The new countertops Mevers installed in the kitchen, five bathrooms and laundry room are Cambria quartz, manufactured by Windermere, the only family-owned, American producer of quartz surfaces.

“The house was ready for a re-do,” Mevers commented, pointing out that the home was originally built in 1992.

Mevers Kitchens & Baths

630-B Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Mount Pleasant


Signature Kitchens & Baths of Charleston

In a home originally built in 1984 that overlooks the Wappoo Cut on James Island, a remodeling project completed recently by Signature Kitchens & Baths of Charleston offers up a new and different color scheme, the floor has been replaced, there’s infinitely more storage space and even the electrical outlets are easier to get to.

One thing remains the same, however. Certified kitchen and bathroom designer Ann E. Chittum was able to salvage the Calcutta Gold marble that sat atop a peninsula in the kitchen.

At 36 inches, the island is now 6 inches taller than its predecessor. The 2-centimeter marble was cut and edged and doubled to 4 centimeters. The peninsula is smaller, providing easier access from the kitchen to the dining area, and it’s also more functional, with a wine chiller and drawers for storage.

Signature also made some major changes in the master bathroom on the third floor of the home. The project included remodeling all of the second floor – the kitchen, dining room and living room – and the third floor, taken up entirely by the roomy master suite.

The kitchen tile was torn out and replaced by wood. One challenge was to make all the floors, new and existing, match the new color scheme. According to Chittum, who has been with Signature for 26 years, warm brown had to become cool gray.

“It was quite a trick to make the red oak floors look gray,” she said. “We used a stain, and it took several tries to get it right. We had to blend it with the tower island, which is smoky brown pear wood.”

The 8-and-a-half-foot-tall tower island houses the refrigerator, oven, pantry and warming drawer. Signature ran the electricity and water for the tower under the wood floor.

The newly-redesigned kitchen now features nearly 16 feet of Olympus White cabinets along one wall – the cabinets are deeper than before – and Stellar Snow quartz countertops by Silestone. The old cabinets opened out, but with the new ones, the doors lift up “so they don’t hit your head,” Chittum pointed out.

Another interesting and useful feature of the new kitchen is the electrical outlets. Before, they were difficult to access. Now, they pop up out of the countertop in three places, giving the homeowners a total of nine outlets.

Dramatic changes also were made on the third floor, where the only storage in the master bath was in shelves above the bathtub and in a small medicine cabinet. Before the home was remodeled, the bathroom consisted of a wall-hung sink with no vanity, a standard tub with a tiled deck and a shower surrounded by walls on two sides and a curtain on the other two.

Now the bathroom is adorned with a free-standing tub and a 54-inch half wall between the tub and shower, with glass extending 84 inches high. The fixtures for the new tub are built into the half wall. The shower has recessed storage, where before there was no storage at all, and the vanity is mounted to the wall, with 10-and-a-half inches of space underneath. The shelving above the tub remains, though it’s been painted, and the frosted glass between the bathroom and the stairwell was integrated into the redesign as well.

Chittum pointed out that the master bath has four different types of tile: 12-inch by 12-inch Virtue on the floor; 6-inch by 12-inch Virtue that runs around the walls as a wains panel and also with a polished finish on the shower walls; Empress Silver on the shower floor; and a 4-inch wide accent of glass, stone and stainless steel that runs along three walls and serves as the backsplash for the vanity.

“It’s an unusual bathroom to say the least, and one of my favorites,” Chittum commented.

The project, which included upgrades to the master bedroom closet, provided the homeowners with additional storage space in the hall as well.

Did this project present any specific hurdles other than the color scheme?

“It was a challenge working with poured concrete because we couldn’t move the plumbing fixtures,” Chittum pointed out.

Signature Kitchens & Baths of Charleston

1926 Savannah Hwy., Charleston


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