Kitchen Remodeling Minus the Kitchen Island

Colonial era kitchens often featured a sturdy work table for food prep. Those kitchen tables were the ancestors of today's kitchen islands. Kitchen islands as we know them -- with storage beneath and eating or food preparation space on top -- really began to gain favor in the 1970s. Now they are such a popular feature in homes that they are included as a "must have" in many kitchen remodeling projects.

Kitchen islands are a wonderful way to add counter space, storage and a place for family and guests to casually congregate. However, there are alternatives if your kitchen is too small to accommodate an island, the island hinders traffic flow, or you simply want a different look.

Morse Constructions colorful kitchen renovation

In this Cambridge kitchen, the homeowner used a table to create a wonderful, light, playful look in a smaller space.





We were delighted to see a recent article on that looks at alternatives to kitchen islands. We've shared "6 Ways to Rethink the Kitchen Island" by Houzz contributor Laura Gaskill in the photo gallery below. To view the whole article on Houzz, simply click any of the photos. To move through the photo gallery, use the arrows in the bottom, left-hand corner of each picture.


What do you think? Can you envision life without a kitchen island? Please post a comment or contact us if we may help you with your kitchen remodel.

Tags: kitchen renovation, Kitchen remodeling, kitchen design, kitchen island

Project Spotlight: Renovation & Addition in Historic Arlington Home

Arlington, MA Historic Renovation Before
The best way to explain our renovation process is to share progress updates from a real-life project. Each month, we will provide a project update and photos from a whole house renovation of an historic home in Arlington. Alterations to the 1850 home have received approvals from the Arlington Historic District Commission and we anticipate breaking ground this month.

Project At-A-Glance: October 2013

Arlington home renovation before

  • Removing a one-story kitchen and bath wing on the back of the house
  • Rebuilding the wing with a new, full-basement foundation (for a future exercise room) and two-story addition featuring the kitchen, a ¾ bath, laundry room and mudroom on the first floor and master bedroom suite on the second floor
  • Opening up the existing dining room in the main portion of the house to provide a more modern layout for the kitchen/dining area
  • Renovating the main bath on the second floor
  • Reconfiguring the existing bedrooms to add a full stairway to the third floor


Unique Challenges

  • The house is on the Arlington Historic District Register, which means that changes – particularly to the exterior – are limited
  • The existing chimney must be visible from the street but it will not be used by the two new high efficiency HVAC systems that we are installing
  • We will solve the problem by supporting the chimney at the third floor level but removing it from the floors below

Schedule & Project Team

  • Demolition of existing one-story wing and beginning excavation for new addition on 10/15/13
  • Estimated project completion 3/31/2014
  • Construction- Morse Constructions
  • Design – Morse Constructions with Lisa Wasserman Sivan
  • Civil Engineering -- Sami Kassis


How may we help you with your renovation? Please contact us for more information.

Tags: Historic Renovations, remodeling project photos, Boston home renovation

Design/Build Partner Spotlight: Lisa Wasserman Sivan

Boston area kitchen renovation

Morse Constructions is a design/build firm.  This means that you may choose us for all services from initial design, to construction, to finishing touches instead of hiring separate services from an architect, space planner and/or interior designer.

We assemble a design team that is best suited to your goals and your project. One of our Lisa Wasserman Sivanmost frequent collaborators is Lisa Wasserman Sivan.  Lisa and Morse first worked together years ago to create an open, airy kitchen/mudroom in a West Newton home (see photo above). Currently, we are collaborating on a Somerville condo renovation and a whole house renovation/addition for an historic residence in Arlington.

How does the design/build collaboration work? What are the advantages? We asked Lisa to share her perspective with our readers in the following Q & A.

Q: Thanks for joining us, Lisa. You and Morse Constructions have worked well together on a number of projects. What do you feel is the secret to this effective design/build collaboration?

A: It has a lot to do with listening and communicating with the homeowner and the whole team. Everybody comes to the table with different expertise and ideas. If you respect this, then everybody is working together toward a shared vision. This leads to more creative ideas because different perspectives are incorporated. The end result is fresh, creative and innovative.

Q: Are you finished your job when construction begins?

A: When I collaborate with Morse Constructions, the services are completely integrated from beginning to end of the project. During the design phase, there is a lot of give-and-take to make sure that designs can be constructed within the budget. Sometimes we save money through smart building, which opens up more design options. There’s always movement and flexibility between design and construction. When building begins, the collaboration continues. We work as a team until the vision is fully realized.

Q: What are the advantages to the homeowner with design/build?

A:  Since the designer and builder are working together from the outset, you know that what is designed is achievable within the established budget. There are a lot of checks and balances that are built in to the system, so you’re going to know exactly what to expect every step of the way. You’re also going to have a team that works together, rather than protecting turf. I think this is the most effective way to realize a vision and create highly functional, imaginative design.

Q: Do you stay involved after construction to help clients with finish selections and furnishings?

A: It is up to the client. Some homeowners want to select their own paint colors, light fixtures and so on. Others want help creating finished spaces. I have some projects that are purely interior design.

Read more about Morse’s six-step design/build process or contact us for more information.


Tags: Massachusetts renovation, design/build, architectural design