A Kitchen Remodel Fit for a Townhouse

This isn’t Carmen Zahiralis’ first kitchen remodel, but it was a long time coming. Almost thirty years in fact. And she couldn’t be happier with the result.

Her story is pretty common amongst homeowners with maturing properties. “It’s been years of wanting to do the kitchen. It’s a small kitchen in a townhouse I have owned for almost 30 years,” says Carmen. "It just needed an update.” Several of the drawers were jambing, a shallow sink and freestanding trash can were daily annoyances, and she didn’t have sufficient space to store appliances and other kitchen equipment.

The previous owners had made some upgrades, blocking off the passthrough area and building a pantry. But the addition to the kitchen wasn’t cohesive, the newer butcher block countertop clashed with the existing (and outdated) ceramic tile countertops. Carmen found the white cabinetry a bit boring and sought a pop of color in her space.

Both function and form needed some love.

Kitchen cabinet with faucet and sink in background
For this homeowner, both form and function needed a little love.

But finding the right time, and the right budget for her kitchen remodel project was easier said than done. Like many other homeowners, spending the majority of their past year working and living indoors, Carmen and her husband Tom felt it was finally time to make the upgrades they wanted to their space.

Having done kitchen remodels in the past, Carmen returned to the big box stores, looking for inspiration and guidance also on this project. But she found that she wasn’t quite as inspired this time around. Aiming for a sleeker look, the budget for fixtures and finishes quickly started to balloon. “I just wasn’t as excited about it,” she says.

Knowing that a kitchen remodel was going to be a big disruption to their day-to-day life, especially during a pandemic, they started to hesitate.

Lowering the cabinets meant appliances were installed at a height Carmen was comfortable reaching. “We got everything where it needed to be, and it works great for me!” she says. 

Carmen describes her style as modern and minimalist, saying “I like a subtle look, but warm still.” With that said, she also wanted some guidance on making some of the choices on materials to use in her space. “Design is not my forté, so I do reach out for help when I need it,” she happily acknowledges.  

Working with Beam, Carmen and Tom quickly started making some key decisions and moving their kitchen remodel forward. “I hadn’t even thought about Ikea,” Carmen recollects. But after helping the couple scope their remodel in detail, a Beam Project Expert matched them with a local general contractor who specializes in Ikea cabinetry, to install the modern, minimalist kitchen that Carmen had envisioned.

“He was the right choice for us,” she says. Knowing the general contractor had familiarity with the product, Carmen was excited to get his input on functional design decisions like "what type of sink should I order?", countertop materials, and extending the kitchen cabinetry to the ceiling. Decisions that are among her most satisfying looking back.

“There are so many decisions behind a remodel,” she says, describing the back-and-forth with her Beam Project Expert and construction team. From the dimmer switches to the door handles, to how to work around an existing soffit or install plumbing discreetly beneath the sink.

“We got everything where it needed to be, and it works great for me!”

This is the support that contributed to Carmen’s excitement about collaborating with Beam on her kitchen remodel and what she learned through this process. “Now I know what questions to ask,” she says. Navigating a remodel can be unclear and murky territory, but she was able to rely on her team to back her up.

Undergoing the kitchen remodel meant a few weeks of paper plates and plastic forks, cooking out on the grill, and "let me just tell you, washing dishes in the bathroom - it isn't fun!" Carmen jokes. But it was worth it in the end.

Today? “I do find myself cooking more. My kitchen looks neat. I don’t have garbage cans sitting over there by the window anymore, right?” She points and giggles. Carmen is excited to be enjoying her upgraded space. “Stuff that used to be in the garage; didn’t have a space – I can now store it where it needs to be. I have a cabinet where my pots and pans can fit!”

Palo Alto Townhouse Kitchen Renovation
Describing the modern kitchen she had once only envisioned, she shares, “I love it very much.”

Describing the modern kitchen she had once only envisioned, she shares, “I love it very much.” She takes a pause when I ask her what she loves the most. But soon she’s chattering on about pullouts, choosing the right backsplash, new stainless steel appliances, and all the other little details that come together to make a kitchen feel like home. Because this kitchen feels like home.