The you-do-it kitchen: Couple created their own vision for a food prep area

The Bentleys' kitchen, after their work, has a cleaner look, with stone-look countertops, appliances that match the cabinetry, and a single tone on the sliver of wall above their cupboards, which allows display of some of their kitchen memorabilia. A window allows in more light as well. Kelly Merritt

The Bentleys' kitchen, after their work, has a cleaner look, with stone-look countertops, appliances that match the cabinetry, and a single tone on the sliver of wall above their cupboards, which allows display of some of their kitchen memorabilia. A window allows in more light as well. Kelly Merritt

Every homeowner has a dream kitchen. Some homeowners, like Adam and Leslie Bentley of East Naples, choose to design their own, however, rather than enlist the help of a professional designer.

The couple found out just how much work it is to remodel a kitchen from scratch — the project took two months to complete, but when finished, the couple had a kitchen they love.

“We live in our kitchen and cook every night and what we have now is definitely our dream kitchen,” said Leslie Bentley. “That we designed and built it ourselves just makes it even more special to us.”

The Bentleys are huge cooks — they’d rather stay home and cook than go out, so the kitchen was the most important room to them. Leslie Bentley teaches at Lely High School and is a boat captain. Adam Bentley owns his own marine-repair business. Between them there is always an abundance of fresh fish for dinner.

“We know a lot of boat captains and my sister Lisa and I are captains, so we catch a lot of fish and love to cook it and share it with friends, so we needed a kitchen that would allow for that,” said Leslie Bentley.

Remodeling the walls proved to be the biggest challenge for the Bentleys’ kitchen remodeling. The floors had to be removed and they had to install all new appliances. The Bentleys admit their kitchen remodel was a laborious process, but the end result was worth the wait.

“We liked a rustic feel and we knew exactly what we wanted to make it comfortable to us and the dogs — we have three basset hounds, Lucy, Darla and Lizzy who enjoy the kitchen as well,” said Leslie Bentley.

The Bentleys installed a new window over the sink and glass French doors for unobstructed views of the dogs when they’re outside. The new doors, which run the length of floor to ceiling, allow the dogs to have a bird’s eye view of everything happening in the yard.

“The dogs are so short and the windows go all the way down to the bottom of the floor, which is nice because they are always on patrol,” said Leslie Bentley, who special-ordered the hurricane-proof French doors from Home Depot with blinds encased between glass panes that never need to be cleaned.

Assistant Store Manager Pete Gibson at the Home Depot store on Airport-Pulling at Davis Boulevard, where the Bentleys purchased all of their products and materials, says changing doors can enhance an entire room.

“What the Bentleys did in changing out the doors can make a huge difference in a kitchen appearance,” he said.

Gibson’s advice to homeowners remodeling kitchens is to remember the details. Even the smallest details like blinds can make a huge difference.

“Blinds in the interior of doors helps with the look of the kitchen, especially a small kitchen, because it perceives a larger area than what it is, and the best part is the homeowner never has to maintenance the blinds including clean them because they are encased in the glass,” said Gibson.

The Bentleys agreed. Rather than choose standard plastic accents, they selected items like a rustic light switchplate to blend with the stone façade. A plastic switchplate would not have matched the new décor.

Adam Bentley was already familiar with the pitfalls that can occur in kitchen remodeling, issues that Gibson says can wreak havoc on the lesser informed do-it-yourselfer.

“One mistake many people make is not knowing if they need a countertop-depth appliance. Otherwise the appliance can recede from the countertop which results in a unfinished look,” he said. “If you have a larger countertop, we have an appliance that can stick out to countertop depth so everything doesn’t look like different depths.”

For consumers who want ease in matching color and hardware, Gibson steers customers towards the Home Depot’s Martha Stewart collection.

“In the Martha Stewart line you can get a Martha Stewart cabinet, and can get paint she suggests that already matches that cabinet,” he said. “She has a great following and people know she can suggest what to choose — from what’s available for your kitchen blinds, to kitchen paint and carpet.”

The Bentleys wanted a bigger sink, and opted to install a large farmer’s sink which can make kitchen appear bigger. Farmer’s sinks allow for more space for cooking preparations and cleaning up afterwards. They also extended the kitchen and moved a wall to make room for one of their other passions, Adam Bentley’s aquariums and vast collection of fish.

“When we remodeled the wall, we built it so it would be big enough for the aquarium, which holds 125 gallons of water in the fresh-water tank and Adam has some fish that are 12 years old,” said Leslie Bentley. “Our saltwater tank holds 55 gallons of water reef aquarium for non-aggressive salt water fish.”

Easy facelifts

• Home Depot’s new line of unfinished cabinets come with doors attached

• Finished cabinets preassembled for installation

• Strip old cabinets and select paint or stain for a quick update

• Consider replacing standard plastic switchplates with old world switchplates and light switches

• Get a new faucet — they can range from $19 to $300 from standard chrome to nickel

• Replace a dated sink with stainless steel or granite sink

• Consider pre-cut countertops that come in sizes from three feet up to 10 feet

• Add a kitchen island for food preparation and a stool for lounging


Questions? Get online answers

Millions of homeowners visit thousands of websites for everything from plans to products to how-to instructions. Shared stories and online remodeling communities contain valuable information for kitchen remodeling. Here are some of the busiest places online to get help and resources.

• Do-It-Yourelf. Independent home improvement website, named by Time Magazine as “one of the top 50 sites in the world”. More than 2 million people visit monthly. Forums provide first-hand remodel stories and suggestions.

• Home Depot’s Home Improver Club. Online service that allows you to design your dream kitchen. Set up consultations with kitchen designers online that can include flooring, countertops, how to buy, projects by room and kitchen design.

© 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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