BEFORE – When remodeling a kitchen, Merri Stratman of Kitchen & Bath Showcase, likes to reach for the sky. However, for this project, the ceiling of the clients' kitchen was literally closing in on their heads: Due to roof line constraints, there was a dropped ceiling in the corner of the kitchen. Stratman's biggest challenge was being able to expand the kitchen while finding balance and symmetry despite the room's structural restrictions.

AFTER – Stratman explains, "In design, my goal is to always achieve form, function and fashion. The clients wanted the added kitchen space to accommodate the growing needs of their family, while still trying to achieve balance based on the changes to the roof line." To do this, she began by adding a new focal point in that area: a large, white oven hood. Stratman could use the curves of the hood to create an illusion of lift and space that distracts the eye from the challenging corner. Another focal point in the kitchen was a new "work" island with a wide berth around it to allow enough room to work and have a comfortable amount of space to move about. The island features maple cabinets with details such as raised-panel doors, molding and beaded edges, gray paint with black highlight glaze and a cracked look to mimic antique cabinetry. A distressed walnut plank top (114"x51") adds to the Old-World theme of the kitchen and balances the weathered ceiling beams. The second "sitting" island contains various forms of storage, such as a beverage refrigerator, a wine rack, plenty of room for dishes and a special area for the dogs under the counter. The island incorporates a gentler look with a simple raised-panel door style with gray glazing overlaid to soften and mute the simpler line of the door. To connect the two islands and highlight the antique look, a one-of-a-kind custom hutch is situated between the two islands. The hutch offers storage for wine glasses, collectibles, and tableware. The white beaded board interiors contrast with the grays, blending nicely with the rest of the kitchen. Taking the space from 11'x16' to 21'x20', Stratman was able to meet all of her clients' needs. As she says, she could create a "warm family kitchen [that is] comfortable no matter how crowded it gets."