"Worst Kitchen" Makeover II: From Kitchen-Dysfunctional to Chef-Worthy
For the second time, DIY Network and Food Network Magazine go in search of America's worst kitchen then undertake a complete makeover, transforming a dismal cook space into a cook's paradise.
Photo By: Charles Harris/Getty Images
Let the Renovation Begin
DIY home improvement expert Matt Blashaw with Alan Young, the winning contestant in DIY's nationwide search for America's worst kitchen
Worst Kitchen: Before
DIY Network and Food Network Magazine teamed up for their second search for The Worst Kitchen in America. After pouring through more than 20,000 photo and video submissions, they found just what they were looking for in the Charlotte, N.C., home of Alan Young. A cramped, poorly laid out and barely usable kitchen became the blank slate for a complete redesign.
Removal of a dividing wall opened up the kitchen, expanding it into an adjoining space to allow for greater ease of movement and a more functional cooking area. The enlarged space coupled with improved lighting and sleek design creates an inviting space that's ideal for casual entertaining.
DIY home improvement expert Matt Blashaw consults with contractor Jake Scott over blueprints for the kitchen expansion and makeover. The renovation goal is to enlarge the kitchen and provide it with clean lines and improved workflow while imbuing it with a feel that suggests a high-end restaurant.
An adjoining and underutilized living room figures heavily in the structural plan for the redesign. This room, and other parts of the home, had previously suffered damage after vandals broke in.
Contemporary living room furniture and lighting were selected to coordinate with the sleek look of the adjacent kitchen.
By taking out the half wall between the kitchen and living room, the kitchen could be expanded by about 12 feet. An open entry to the adjoining room, combined with the roomier and more efficient design, creates a natural flow and a relaxed feel.
Dated cabinets, mismatched pink trim, a broken pantry door and a stove with only one working burner were only a few of the attributes that landed this clunker of a kitchen in the top spot for a DIY makeover.
High-end stainless appliances, black quartz countertops with matching shelves, an energy-efficient dishwasher and a pro-quality, dual-fuel range with vented hood helped make a dream kitchen out of a formerly drab space.
Worn wood-paneled cabinetry and poor placement of appliances were other problematic features in the pre-makeover kitchen. When homeowner Alan Young first learned that his kitchen had been selected for the DIY treatment, he posted dozens of sticky notes proudly proclaiming "I am the winner of DIY's Worst Kitchen in America."
Sleek light fixtures, contemporary furniture, brushed stainless surfaces and slate-colored bamboo flooring all contribute to an upscale-restaurant motif that defines the look of the new kitchen. While the original kitchen was lit with just a single overhead dome fixture, the new space is illuminated by two imported chandeliers, can and flush-mount accent lighting and under-cabinet LEDs.
One of the most obvious problem spots in Alan's kitchen was the outdated stove — and the fact that it had only one functioning burner.
With a new, state-of-the-art range, Alan should have few complaints when it comes to preparing meals. He now has six burners to choose from along with a pasta faucet within easy reach. The dual-fuel range offers the precision of a gas cooktop paired with the even cooking temperatures of an electric oven.
The fridge in the old kitchen jutted out at an awkward angle, extending out into the middle of the room and impeding workflow. The new brushed stainless refrigerator, with double-door design, fits neatly beneath built-in cabinets.
The nook adjacent to the refrigerator offers a work surface perfect for consulting recipes online on a laptop or tablet. The shelving, in the same quartz composite as the countertops, is float-mounted with steel reinforcement and provides open storage for dishware, cookbooks and, of course, a collection of past issues of Food Network Magazine.
An old broken door is now replaced with a dark-wood-framed door with frosted glass. A convenient pass-through allows prepared dishes to be handed through from the kitchen into the dining room.
The design of the kitchen is intended to reflect Alan's personality, his love of travel and international tastes. Alan expressed a preference for clean lines, European styling and shiny, polished surfaces. New kitchen furnishings include lighting from France and Italy, and chairs from Germany. The color palette utilizing blue, silver and white, and the backsplash in blue-green glass tile, are intended to invoke a Mediterranean feel.
And That's a Wrap
Home improvement specialist and host Matt Blashaw takes justifiable pride in the complete and newly refurbished kitchen.
Afterword: A Cook's Kitchen Reborn
Once a cook for his own catering business, Alan Young can now resume his passion for cooking and preparing great meals — in a newly renovated kitchen that would make a sous chef envious. Here Alan takes a moment to take pride in his kitchen with new friend Fabrice Dinonno, chef at Lulu's Dine/Wine in Charlotte, N.C.