“Behind the Curtin” provides an inside look at local homeowners’ beautifully-crafted houses, giving insight into what it takes to renovate, upgrade, and style the most coveted parts of their dream homes. In this video series, industry expert and business owner Joanne Curtin explores local homes while interviewing their owners who live well in their homes to better understand their thought processes when making important decisions. Join Joanne to get a look into the world of luxurious real estate one wonderful home at a time.
“Behind the Curtin” Episode 9 – A Scullery Retrofit in Milton, Georgia
In this episode of “Behind the Curtin”, we delve into the captivating world of scullery design and functionality, as Joanne Curtin sits down with homeowners, Jessica and John Lee. This entertaining interview promises to unravel the mystery of scullery design, where innovation meets aesthetics in the heart of the home.
Joanne: Jessica, John, thank you for talking to me today. Where did you live before you moved in to your current home?
Jessica: We lived inside the perimeter, in a small neighborhood. It was up and coming, and it was before we had kids. It was a wonderful neighborhood. But as our family grew, the small house and yard wasn’t enough space for us anymore.
Joanne: What was it about this house, in particular, that attracted you to it?
Jessica: We both came up with our own “non-negotiables” list. John wanted a flat yard. I wanted a front porch. We both wanted a daylight basement. And essentially, we both wanted a house that we could invest in for the long haul.
Joanne: What have you done to increase the value of your home?
Jessica: The home was in foreclosure when we purchased it. We immediately invested almost $100K because of all the deferred maintenance. We took the brick off the front of the house and replaced it with stone. We resurfaced the floors, painted our cabinets, and updated all the bathrooms. We also redesigned our “mud room”. The way our home is situated, people naturally come to our side door. So, we felt like this area off the kitchen needed to be more inviting and not just a spot where everyone dropped all of their belongings.
The main impetus for the kitchen project was how much updating the kitchen needed. We actually had duct tape holding some of it together! So, since we were doing the remodel, I wanted to make sure that we could essentially take this shell [of kitchen space] and make it very practical for our family. And out of that came the idea of a scullery, or working kitchen. We actually called it “the kids’ kitchen” because we wanted them to have a place to make their messes. The reality is it also offers us a lot more prep and storage space. So, it’s changed everything in our kitchen.
Joanne: Did you use a designer? And what was that like?
Jessica: We used a contractor who had an in-house designer. But essentially, we came up with the plan ourselves. We admit that we’re very particular and we took the reins on the design. Before we found our contractor, we had multiple people from different companies come out, but they couldn’t see our vision. They thought it wasn’t possible.
Joanne: Tell me a little bit more about the choices you made for your kitchen remodel.
Jessica: I think the trend is moving towards very simple design. People are moving away from knickknacks and appliances out on the counters. So, we extended the countertop up on the backsplash because we wanted the clean lines. And we moved the plugs and light switches from the walls to under the cabinets because we wanted that clean look. But of course, we still have appliances that we use. We still have to cook and live our daily lives. And so, we wanted to make sure we had a spot where we can still make messes and actually it [the scullery] provided a lot more storage space. The scullery has a sink so we didn’t have to put one in the center island. We house our microwave oven in there as well, in addition to a smaller “kids’ fridge”. It’s so much easier for the kids to prepare their own snacks now.
In the course of remodeling the kitchen, we played around with the design of the pantry, laundry room and side entrance. We didn’t need to dedicate a whole room for the laundry, since we have units on each level. This gave us the space needed to create our scullery. And it also gave us the chance to find a spot for everything. Even simply preparing our morning smoothies is easier because we don’t have to move all around a large kitchen. Everything is conveniently located in the scullery.
Joanne: What’s your favorite room in the house?
Jessica: I definitely think the scullery. I honestly love being in there. I didn’t cook much before but I love it now. And having the big island in the kitchen as a place for the kids to come and hang out with their friends is something I had always envisioned.
John: Before we had the kitchen redone, I would always direct our guests to the basement. We would hang out down there or by the pool. But now the kitchen is a great spot for entertaining guests as well. But my favorite room was the screened in porch. Of course, now we hang out more in the kitchen and family room.
Joanne: What did you splurge on?
Jessica: Well, I feel like the scullery itself is a splurge. And we really do love our gold fixtures. But being practical, we repurposed our kitchen cabinets to fit in the scullery.
John: I definitely think moving the stove from the island to the other counter and adding a hood.
Joanne: What have you learned from this process?
Jessica: We worked with five or six different contractors on different projects since we bought this house. But I think, you always want to get to know your contractor. They should be honest, upfront, and responsive. The contractor we used for the project said in our first meeting that inevitably something would go wrong. But he assured us that when that happens, we would sit down together and work it out. I really appreciated that.
John: We also learned the importance of picking out your countertop, especially if you want a seamless countertop like we have on the center island. We actually shortened the size of the island to accommodate the countertop we picked out. Otherwise, they would have run a seam down the middle. And our contractor learned a lesson in that process as well. Different styles come in different sizes and your choices are limited if you have already built the island to certain dimensions. So, if you want more options, pick out your countertop before you design your island.
Joanne: Is there anything you would recommend not skimping on if someone is considering a remodel like this?
Jessica: We were both glad that we invested in new cabinets in the kitchen that have the soft close feature and go all the way to the ceiling. The countertops are quartz. And even though I initially wanted marble, we decided quartz was a better material for us.
John: So, this isn’t necessarily related to the kitchen, and Jessica really helped me understand this, but after you finish a project like this what you realize is that the stuff that is important to you – your family, your friends, how you live, how you entertain – makes it worth it. For example, putting a fireplace in the screen porch is nice, but what’s better are the memories you and your family make around it.
Jessica: This home is a gift. And we want to make it a blessing to others as well. Obviously, the remodel adds value to the home. But it also adds value for our family and friends. We can open up more of our home to them. We are people that serve and give back and share. So, that’s what it means to us.