Kitchen renovation project

By doing the work himself, Dennis Hockman was able to pull off a major kitchen renovation — including new cabinetry, countertops, appliances, flooring, plumbing, electrical, and lighting — for less than what the average minor renovation costs. (Dennis Hockman, Baltimore Sun / October 7, 2011)

We all have that one room at home that we close the door on when friends come to visit. Whatever space that is, you're probably right to keep it hidden.

But we also have that one room that we shower with special attention and think of as the centerpiece of our own home and garden show. It could be because we spent days agonizing over the perfect wall color or maybe the furniture holds special meaning or we saved up enough money to really splurge on the accessories.

We all have a favorite space. And there's no reason it should be a secret.

We want to know more about your best rooms, renovations, additions, and interior design projects. Maybe it's a do-it-yourself project you are particularly proud of, or maybe your favorite space is the result of a year-long collaboration with an interior designer. Perhaps your favorite space is outside — a fish pond or a bedroom balcony.

Whatever it is, if it's special to you, we want to see it.

We've created a "Show Us Your Space" page on baltimoresun.com, where you can upload photos of your favorite room or space.

We are hoping to see everything from kitchen and bath upgrades and porch additions to basement renovations, landscape projects and interior design makeovers. Whether the space was a product of your sweat equity or you let the pros do all the heavy lifting, we want to know what inspired you and how you did it.

Our goal is to create a place where others can gain inspiration — or merely take a peek at what the neighbors might be up to. From time to time, we will select some of the most beautiful or interesting and unique spaces to feature in the "At Home" section.

To get us started, I offer my favorite space, my kitchen, which I completely renovated about two years ago.

The project was one of necessity. In the spring of 2008, my wife and I moved into an old Colonial revival home that needed a bit of TLC. To start, we planned on refinishing the floors and adding central air conditioning right away.

The rest, we figured, we would get around to as we could. We knew the kitchen, complete with cabinetry installed over a window and a peg board wall for hanging pots and pans, would eventually need to be gutted and replaced, but it wasn't on our priority list. Not until, that is, the first morning in our new house, when we discovered evidence of a previously well-hidden, but extensive, rodent infestation.

Not one to wait and see, I immediately began moving the appliances, lifting the base cabinetry from position, and other "exploratory" demolition. What I found was enough to decide that a kitchen overhaul would be our top priority.

We needed a new kitchen and fast — unfortunately that wasn't part of our near-term financial plan. In retrospect, the budget and time constraints are the reason it's my favorite room in the house.

In its annual "Cost vs. Value" study, Remodeling magazine indicates that here in the Baltimore region the average minor kitchen remodel costs $20,762. A major remodel costs $55,004 and an upscale major kitchen remodel averages $109,003.

I am most proud of my little kitchen because I was able to pull off a major renovation — including new cabinetry, countertops, appliances, flooring, plumbing, electrical, and lighting — for less than what the average minor renovation costs.

To bring down the cost, I did most of the work myself. There were months of washing dishes in the bathroom sink and cooking outside on the grill, but the end result, and the necessary savings, were worth it.

Of course, those projects that don't require an ounce of effort are pretty great, too — like the mosaic marble powder room floor I had installed. It looks great, and with all the precise tile cuts required, hiring a pro was definitely the right way to go.

For me, my home is an extension of who I am. It's one of the ways I express myself, and I have dozens of stories that go with each improvement that's been made. I bet you do too. Please, don't keep them a secret.

Dennis Hockman is editor of Chesapeake Home + Living magazine. He can be reached at dhockman@tribune.com.



Show us your space



If you've got a great living or outdoor space that makes you feel good, we want to hear about it. It can be an indoor or outdoor space — in an apartment, townhome, condo, loft or mansion. If you like it, we'll love it.

To submit your space, go to baltimoresun.com/athome and upload a picture and description in the "Show Us Your Space" photo gallery. (You will need to register on our website to submit a photo.)

You can also email your photo to homes@baltsun.com. There is no deadline, but we're hoping to feature some of the rooms in our At Home section in November.