Couple wins chance to trade 'ugly' kitchen for modern redo
Today’s real estate experts say kitchens sell homes.
But for Brian and Dawn Moulton, who moved into their two-bedroom ranch-style home in west Springfield on July 3, 2007, the front room, full basement and proximity to good neighbors in a park-like setting were among convincing selling points.
They weren’t scared away by the ugly 1950s-era kitchen, even though its list of shortcomings was daunting.
Yellow countertops that were worn and faded in places. Scratched laminate wood flooring. White metal cabinets that had rust and odor.
Dawn removed the cabinets’ hardware.
“I took them off because I thought maybe I could paint them, but then I couldn’t get them back on, so I rearranged the ones I could get back on,” Dawn said.
“I am like kind of a neat freak, and so that’s kind of the other issue that I was having with this kitchen. I’m constantly scrubbing everything ’cause it never looks clean.”
With Brian deployed to Iraq with the Army Reserves (he went on the couple’s first anniversary), Dawn entered the 2008 “Ugly Kitchen Contest.”
Distinctive Designs for Kitchens and Baths, The New Arizona Tile Co. and Dick Van Dyke Appliance World partnered to create the contest, giving contestants the chance to win up to $20,000 in cabinetry, countertops, floor coverings, backsplash and appliances.
Seventy-seven contestants completed one-page questionnaires and submitted three pictures of their kitchens and $50 for the benefit of Habitat for Humanity of Sangamon County. Proceeds of $3,850 were donated to a Habitat home.
Judges visited the homes of five finalists. The Moultons were chosen as the homeowners with the ugliest kitchen.
Distinctive Designs’ Darlene Weaver was the designer, and LeeAnne Atterberry was the project manager for the Moultons’ remodeled kitchen.
“They just came in one day, and I was just, like, in awe because right away they just came up with all these really great ideas that totally make sense,” Dawn said.
“If Brian and I would have tried to do this on our own, which we would have, we never would have thought of anything like that.”
Demolition began before Christmas, with the help of Dawn’s dad, Hal Wakefield, and brother, Dan Wakefield.
A lot of the work occurred while Dawn was at work as a teacher in special education resource at Graham Elementary School. The surprises that awaited her when she returned home reminded her of Christmas, she said.
“I would come home and there would be walls. And I came home and there were pipes. Then I came home and there were lights. Then the really fun part started, when I came home and there were cabinets and counters. It was a long process,” Dawn said.
Dawn kept Brian informed of the progress.
“They were still working on it right when I was home for my two weeks of leave,” said Brian, who was home for 14 days beginning Jan. 9 and had to leave on Dawn’s birthday, Jan. 23.
The renovation was complete by the time Brian came home for good in April.
Dawn and Brian recently gave a visitor a tour of their renovated kitchen.
“Pretty different,” Dawn said.
“It’s a lot different,” Brian replied.
The kitchen has a new laminate wood floor, tile backsplash, energy-efficient appliances such as an Advantium (speed cook) oven, maple cabinets to replace the rusting metal cabinets and grayish laminate countertops.
Hutches flank a table topped with the same laminate as the countertops. At first, Dawn had doubts about the design, thinking the table would stick out too much.
“The whole time, I was kind of wondering. I had never seen this in a kitchen before. I worried about this taking up too much space in the kitchen. But I love it,” Dawn said.
The Moultons eat on the table. Dawn also sets her computer on it.
“I use this. I don’t know how I ever lived without it,” Dawn said.
The kitchen renovation was something the Moultons planned to do “years down the road,” Dawn said.
“I feel sometimes very undeserving because sometimes I look at it, and I’m sure there is someone who needs this kitchen more than I do,” Dawn said.
“I hope that I can figure out something to do with the results of this that I can be deserving of it, but I’m very thankful, too.”
Tamara Browning can be reached at (217) 788-1534 firstname.lastname@example.org.