Renovation Diaries

This Couple Knocked Down a Load-Bearing Wall to Open Up Their Galley Kitchen — And They Have No Regrets

published Jul 20, 2021
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Andrea Surette and husband in kitchen.
Credit: Jennifer Chase

The kitchen renovation Andrea Surette and Jeremy Muenz completed on their 100-year-old Washington, D.C. row house was nothing short of magnificent. They turned a dark and cramped little space into a big, bright, beautiful, relaxed-glam kitchen that makes you want to pull up a barstool, pour a drink, and hang out forever … just admiring their handiwork.

And none of this would have been possible if they hadn’t made a major, major change to the floor plan. 

Credit: Andrea Surette

The original space was a galley kitchen that clocked in at around a 100-square-feet. It was closed off from the rest of the home with just a pass-through to the dining room. And the sink, stove, and fridge were all lined up against one wall. Hardly ideal for functionality, let alone aesthetics.

But when the couple walked in, they immediately saw the potential — if they could just open it up.

We know, we know, “open concept” may be the most overused term of the millennium. And sometimes it seems like people do it just because, and later regret it. Houses were designed with rooms for a reason (as many of us learned during quarantine life!). But it was not only warranted in this case — Andrea and Jeremy believe (strongly!) that it was the single best decision they made in their renovation. 

Credit: Jennifer Chase
Andrea and Jeremy love looking at their custom piece of art across from the sink while they do dishes. "It’s a row house but it makes it feel like we are looking out a window onto a beautiful marsh," says Andrea. The artist is Nicole Thomas and she’s local to the DC area.

It’s easy to see why. There’s a limit to what you can do with a long, narrow galley. Taking out a couple of walls — 10 dumpsters full of plaster, in total! — immediately gave them a blank canvas for the kitchen of their dreams. 

Credit: Jennifer Chase

Thanks to the huge new space — some 400-square-feet when you count the sunroom — they were able to design a truly functional kitchen around a glorious 10-foot island, not to mention spring for a huge refrigerator and a 36-inch range that lets them cook to their hearts’ content. And friends and family can all gather in the kitchen together for holidays and, you know, random weekday evenings. 

Credit: Jennifer Chase

A bonus to this design is that the kitchen space got to claim the adjacent sunroom. “It’s a really beautiful space to have like two lounge chairs,” Andrea says. It’s truly a multi-purpose space. “I drink coffee, I do yoga in that room, and work out in there.”

Credit: Jennifer Chase

It also is the perfect place to showcase a family heirloom, the lovely midcentury modern buffet that Andrea inherited from her grandparents. It stores dishes, gives her a place to display plants, and just brings a sense of love and family to the space.  

It was definitely a significant expense to remove walls, but because they saved in so many other areas by doing the renovation work themselves, it was easy to justify. Going open concept also adds to the value of the house, they feel, so it was a smart investment in more ways than one. 

See Andrea’s Full Reno Diary