Tremendous Transition

A talented team updates a Birmingham kitchen // Photography by Beth Singer

It was a “lovely Tudor” with a less-than-lovely kitchen, says architect Glenda Meads, describing a Birmingham renovation she recently worked on with homeowners Jackie and Keith Albertie. While the approximately 4,000-square-foot house dated to 1926, the home’s original service kitchen had been updated through the years, most recently in the 1980s, complete with red oak cabinets, an outdated granite color, and an awkward peninsula and bay window. Jackie, an interior designer with Jackie Albertie Designs, says it definitely wasn’t her favorite look.

The family of five, with one child still at home, bought the classic home in 2012 and lived with the kitchen for five years. They painted the cabinets white, replaced the hardware and lighting, and dreamt of the day they could embark on a full-scale renovation of the space.

That day finally came in 2017, when the Alberties hired Meads, owner of Birmingham-based Glenda Meads Architects, to design a 1,000-square-foot addition on the back of the house that would include not only a new and improved kitchen, but a convenient mudroom and a second first-floor bathroom.

Meads was up to the challenge. “My philosophy on additions is to rethink the connection to the entire house,” she explains, adding that a better relationship with the nearby dining and family rooms were among the renovation’s many goals.

SIZZLING STYLE Bumping the back of the house out 12 feet into the backyard allowed for a new kitchen across the rear of the house as well as better access to the newly redone outdoor space.

Plans included bumping the back of the house out 12 feet into the backyard. Doing so, Meads says, “gave us great breathing room to run a new kitchen across the back of the house,” and provided better access to the beautiful and newly redone backyard.

The architect worked closely with Jackie, who designed the layout and everything except for the light fixtures and backsplash. Jackie collaborated with Lori MacDonald, from Acorn Kitchen & Bath in Pontiac, on the cabinetry and with fellow designer Lynn Witmer, of Witmer Design, on light fixtures and the backsplash tile. Witmer says the kitchen design is fresh and unexpected, and Albertie “had great vision” for the space.

That vision was inspired by her prior house, which had an open layout and a pleasing mix of old and new, Jackie says. She calls the house’s style “traditional with a modern spin,” adding that the blend and philosophy inspired everything the family has done to the house.

The kitchen’s crisp white cabinets and porcelain countertops are a nod to the 1920s. More contemporary elements include black metal doors and window framing, exposed vents, a striking appliance wall, and heated concrete floors — an unusual feature that required installing concrete planks for stability.

Meads defines the spiffed-up 15- by 30-foot space as “industrial modern,” and says the addition’s flat roof was key to the renovated kitchen’s high ceilings, which allowed for fun elements such as the bright yellow Cosi lights. “It would have been a completely different space if we had 8-foot ceilings,” the architect explains. “This room has real punch.”

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