Creating an Open Kitchen and Dining Room

Older homes, especially the really old 100-year kind of homes, have such natural charm that our modern homes just don’t have. But the trade-off for that charm can be small cramped rooms. Our guests today did an amazing job transforming a small kitchen area and a separate dining area into a beautiful modern open kitchen and dining room that still matches all the other charm of the home:

Create an Open Kitchen and Dining Area | SoPo Cottage featured on #openkitchen #renovation #newenglander

Keep reading for all the details and before-and-afters of Laurel’s gorgeous space, and take a stroll down memory lane to check out these renovations we’ve shared where the homeowners had to get brave and take down a wall to create the open kitchen space of their dreams:

open kitchen and dining area remodel, That's My Letter featured on RemodelaholicThat’s My Letter featured on Remodelaholic

open kitchen remodel, Cape 27 feature on RemodelaholicCape 27 featured on Remodelaholic

open layout white country kitchen, Stable Living featured on RemodelaholicStable Living featured on Remodelaholic

small kitchen open space remodel, decor8 feature on Remodelaholiclovetodecor8 featured on Remodelaholic

Here’s Laurel with all the beautiful details of her New Englander open kitchen and dining room:

Creating an Open Kitchen and Dining Room in an 1892 New Englander
by Laurel of SoPo Cottage

I’m Laurel and I have a passion for renovating old houses. My husband and I have done it many times in our own homes, but now we want to see if we can turn that passion into a business model.  Are we crazy? Maybe, but we want to give it a try. Through our home renovation blog, I  share our experiences as we renovate and decorate these houses for today’s modern lifestyle.  And you’ll find out whether I need to go back to my old day job!  

When we first looked at this antique, 1892 home, we knew the kitchen/dining room had lots of potential.  But taking potential to reality is a big undertaking!

  • The pluses – it had a big beam going across the center, antique pine floors (under decades old, mauve carpeting), and a large adjacent room that had been used for storage.  
  • The challenges –  a busy traffic pattern, several doorways and windows, structural issues, insulation problems, and a furnace flue that stuck out into the space, making it difficult for cabinet placement.
New Englander Kitchen Update - before, SoPo Cottage featured on Remodelaholic
Kitchen ‘Before’
Kitchen Plan – We looked at multiple layouts (click here for details), but decided opening up the wall between the two rooms would increase dining space and kitchen space. We had hoped to put an island in the kitchen, but after seeing how narrow it would be, opted instead to keep the incredibly efficient ‘U’ shape for the workspace.  We widened the U, to provide more space for multiple cooks and created a big peninsula that incorporated seating.  That way you can chat with the cook or eat a casual meal.  We used black granite, so the counters are hard working as well as beautiful.
Create an Open Kitchen and Dining Area | SoPo Cottage featured on #openkitchen #renovation #newenglander

Create an Open Kitchen and Dining Area | SoPo Cottage featured on #openkitchen #renovation #newenglander

We also wanted to have lots of storage in the kitchen, so we added these cabinets, reminiscent of furniture hutches, and a window seat on the far wall.  The glass cabinets let you display beautiful pieces, while the counter space provides more work space – or buffet space for a party!  We used wood butcher block tops  to provide more of a ‘furniture’ feel and linkage to the antique beam across the ceiling.  Finally, we used corbels under the cabinets and window seat to provide a decorative touch and increased support.
white new englander kitchen update with wood floors, SoPo Cottage featured on Remodelaholic
new englander kitchen update, before, SoPo Cottage featured on Remodelaholic
Kitchen ‘Before’
Create an Open Kitchen and Dining Area | SoPo Cottage featured on #openkitchen #renovation #newenglander
Modern Kitchen with Antique Details

Dining Room Plan – The new dining room also had some major changes.  We removed the old, steep staircase from the back of the room and added a mudroom and powder room next to the back door – but still kept lots of space for dining. We replaced the leaky old windows with new, energy efficient ones.  And we did critical behind the walls work – structural upgrades, electrical and insulation.  Finally, we got rid of the florescent work lights and installed recessed lighting and a new pendant chandelier.

Create an Open Kitchen and Dining Area | SoPo Cottage featured on #openkitchen #renovation #newenglandernew englander dining room before, SoPo Cottage featured on Remodelaholic
demo day, taking out the dining room wall, SoPo Cottage featured on Remodelaholic
Demo Day  – check out the old dining room light fixtures!

reclaimed wood chalkboard frame, SoPo Cottage featured on RemodelaholicSpecial Touches
– And while we made many changes, we kept all of the vintage features that we loved about these rooms.  The big beam in the kitchen stayed – and we created a chalkboard with a reclaimed wood frame from some wood we found during demolition.  The corner hutch, which we think is original to the house, is still there.  And we kept all of the wood floors that were in the house ( click here to see how the flooring was restored).  
glass accents in a tile backsplash, SoPo Cottage featured on Remodelaholic
We also added some new, contemporary touches to the space.  The backsplash has a vertical glass accent, that adds sparkle to the space.  And we splurged on some of the light fixtures.  Don’t you love the unique blend of old and new that they lend to the space?  And the stainless steel appliances are incredibly durable, but also have a sleek look to them.
The Result – We had an ‘It’s Finished’ party to celebrate the completion and test out the space.   We we thrilled with how well the space flowed and accommodated a crowd (after all, when you have a party, everyone wants to be in the kitchen!).  It’s a great design with great functionality. All in all, we are really excited with how this space came out! 

Want to see more?  Here are links to two of our completed projects:  1930’s Cottage and 1940’s Ranch to Colonial


Thanks so much for sharing, Laurel! I think you are safe without your old day job — wonderful work! 🙂

If you want to see more of Laurel’s old home transformations, pay her a visit over at SoPo Cottage. 

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Lorene has been behind the scenes here at Remodelaholic for more than a decade! She believes that planning projects and actually completing them are two different hobbies, but that doesn't stop her from planning at least a dozen projects at any given time. She spends her free time creating memories with her husband and 5 kids, traveling as far as she can afford, and partaking of books in any form available.

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  1. Nice job ! Love your color choices, and you are so blessed to have nice big window in dinning room . The rooms look narrow ,but your layout & furniture choice make it all come together
    Love the new kitchen