Lake Highlands residents Bob and Vickie Allen lived with their unlivable kitchen for nearly eight years before taking action.

Like many area homes of the period, the Allens’ kitchen had a built-in breakfast area with a banquette and table at one end, at the considerable expense of floor and counter space.

There were other problems, too. “The kitchen had two round sinks,” Vickie Allen says. “Both were the same size, and both were too small to do a load of dishes. I don’t know what they were thinking.”

The lack of laundry room was another sore point. By removing the banquette and table and putting in an additional wall, the Allens were able to enclose a laundry room and even add a small lighted display shelf and window in the hall behind the kitchen. “The wall there was bare, and too skinny to hang artwork. So I decided to give it some interest and lighten up the laundry room at the same time.”

When they had the new, larger double sink installed, the Allens asked the contractor to “bump out” a triangular window to add interest and light. New countertops are granite, and walls and cabinets are a striking combination of Chinese red and orchid.

An artist by avocation, Vickie used her dynamic sense of color lavishly in the new kitchen. “I had seen that combination in a magazine and I just wanted to see if I could make it work in this space,” she says.

The new countertop extends into the former banquette area in flowing “P” shape suggested by an architect friend. This allows room for dining and perfectly complements the contemporary look of the new kitchen. In the same area, the wall between the seating area and the laundry room boasts a separate sink area “for washing vegetables or working with plants,” Vickie says. Hanging above the sink is one of her artworks.

Completing the look are new, modern appliances and new hardwood flooring to match the adjacent living areas.

The Allens’ remodeling made use of existing space to update their kitchen and make it more functional for the family of four. The new space makes it a pleasure to cook, entertain, and even repot the occasional plant.