Upgraded and Updated

When Ellen and Andy Michnovicz built their family home in 1989, it was perfect for them and their two young boys. They embarked on a few minor remodels over the years—new tile and carpeting, a facelift for the powder room—but by 2014, they were ready for a bigger change. Their younger son, now a teenager and an avid tennis player, often has the team over, and they enjoy hosting other gatherings of friends and family. They needed a general contractor who could make efficient use of the space they had and give it a contemporary makeover in the process.

A trip to the annual Las Cruces Home and Garden Show introduced them to Kevin McGinley of McGinley Construction and he proved up to the challenge.  He set to work drawing up plans with modeling capabilities so the family had a visual picture of the end product.

First order of business for the McGinley Construction crew: Knocking down walls to replace the enclosed rooms typical of late-1980s builds with open spaced living.  “The biggest change was bringing down the walls and making the kitchen, dining, and living spaces essentially one big room,” Ellen explains.

Stout Wood Flooring replaced the outdated carpeting and tile with engineered hardwood flooring throughout. All the walls were resurfaced from an orange peel to a light hand-textured finish. Kevin added bright white, 4-inch baseboards and leveled out the fir down ceiling for a sleeker look. “They seem like small changes,” Ellen notes, “but they really upgraded the space.”

Thanks to the newly open floor plan, what was originally a formal living room/music space is now used a lot more frequently, most often as overflow seating when large groups are gathering around the kitchen. With the help of Decorating Den’s Sherry Franzoy, Ellen “broke up the neutrals and beiges” with pops of color, like bright green furniture and colorful artwork.

To fulfill one of Ellen’s most important requests—a more functional kitchen—the space was completely gutted and outfitted with brand new cabinetry and countertops. (Ellen coordinated with Pat Weaver at Kitchen Concepts on the glazed cabinets and the Dallas white granite countertops.) Gleaming stainless steel appliances replaced the dated white ones, and the soffit lighting panel was retired in favor of recessed can lights. 

While removing the wall between the kitchen and living room gave the Michnovicz family a whole lot more room to entertain, it also took out an entire wall of storage space. “I needed to make sure I got my storage back,” Ellen remembers, so it was replaced by extending the new cabinets all the way to the ceiling and installing an island that stretches the length of the room.

“I used to have a little, square island and it had a cooktop right in the middle with just a tiny bit of countertop space on each side that I couldn’t do anything with,” Ellen remembers. “I wanted enough room for everyone to have a project going. My husband likes to cook outdoors and then he’ll bring his brisket in here and carve it while the boys and I are working on other things. We really like being able to do that.”

For even more storage space, Ellen painted and repurposed a section of her old cabinets into a coffee bar in the adjacent dining area.  She says Kevin also made one tiny change that did wonders in enlarging the room. “The door leading into the back of the house, opened into the dining space and Kevin changed it so it opened on the other side. It’s such a small thing to think of, but it really made the room feel a whole lot bigger,” she notes.

Sherry helped Ellen update the space with silhouette blinds, contemporary seating, and a table that—when outfitted with its leaf—can seat up to ten. “I had a formal dining room, but I only used it occasionally, mostly as my desk,” she explains. “When everything opened up so nicely, I started thinking, why do we need two eating areas? We’ll just put a dining table in here instead of kitchenette seating and make this the formal and informal dining room.”

With no need for formal dining, the McGinley Construction crew erected a wall and incorporated the extra space into the master suite as a sitting area. This gave them room to expand both the master closet and, eventually, the bathroom, and to install a linen closet (more of that storage Ellen loves) in the hallway. Ellen says future plans include finishing off the master bath and bedroom and redoing the walls with the hand-textured finish.

In the meantime, the Michnovicz family is content enjoying their expanded living space. “We’ve had several opportunities to entertain since the remodel and it just works great,” Ellen confirms. “The added countertop space is a huge bonus. We have seating around the table, at the bar, and in the living room. Everyone just congregates around. This is where we spend the most time. I’ve always considered it the heart of my home.”

Photos by Kelly McGinley