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For the Choe family, most of their home life has is centered around the kitchen. “We noticed that most of our time was spent in the kitchen, prepping food, eating meals, cleaning up, and hosting loved ones,” says Sunoh Choe. But their existing kitchen with its compartmentalized, closed-off layout, and outdated furnishings, wasn’t functional. 

Creating Harmony in Design

The couple hired Avex Kitchen Design & Installation to create an open plan inspired by how they moved about and utilized the kitchen. “We wanted our new kitchen to function more like an open concept one with a large, central island, beverage cooler for entertaining, and a natural flow from the kitchen to the dining area,” Choe says. 

One of the biggest issues with the kitchen was its existing cabinetry. “It was original from the 70s, and featured exposed hinges that were stiff with multiple coats of thick paint, small awkward sizes, and dinosaur-like squeaky drawers,” Choe says. Although the new kitchen included a few splurges like Calacatta Arno quartz countertops, a reflective Cafe Appliances brass oven, and a large Kohler farmhouse sink, custom cabinetry was out of the question.

Scandi Sleek

Rather than build-out fully custom cabinetry, Choe chose to install modern cabinetry inspired by Scandinavian design: a mix of BOXI by Semihandmade’s Oat Slab and Salt Shaker cabinets with Semihandmade Night Sky Shaker fronts for the bar. “Another thing we cared a lot about was cleaning and maintaining our new countertop and cabinets. We really appreciate how easy it is to clean BOXI cabinets because of the smooth, factory-finished surfaces,” Choe says.  

 

Think Outside the BOX(I)

Installing semi-custom cabinetry meant they had more flexibility, which later helped when unexpected issues arose. “We discovered that one of the walls we were demolishing was load-bearing, a detail caught by the inspector, and it also housed a heating duct that needed to be relocated,” Choe says. “Going semi-custom with BOXI cabinets gave us some flexibility with making it work for our unique space.” 

Despite some challenges, the couple completed the kitchen remodel according to their original vision. “The end result was totally worth it. It looks amazing and refreshed. We receive compliments from our friends and family and we recommend BOXI as often as we can,” Choe says.

The kitchen space has also expanded into becoming a bigger gathering place than before. “This past Christmas, we were able to host our entire family and had 12 people gathered in our kitchen. It’s still one of our favorite spots in the house for hanging out and hosting loved ones,” he adds.  

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Renovation

We don’t believe that renovations should be daunting. The key is to arm yourself with the right knowledge, people, and products to achieve your goals. It also helps to ask the right questions: How much does it cost to renovate a kitchen? How do I find the right general contractor in my area? Where do I even start if I’ve never remodeled before? This is where we come in. Through hard-to-believe before and afters, first-person renovation accounts, and step-by-step DIY projects, we demystify every aspect of remodeling and give you a ton of full-house, bathroom, and kitchen renovation ideas. Semihandmade was built on a strong make-it-yourself spirit and we’re carrying that legacy beyond DIY kitchen cabinets (though we’ll certainly touch on those too) by bringing you a ton of weekend projects for novices (have you ever tried making your own planter?) and experts (try your hand at a full-wall media center). What do people really mean when they say a house has “good bones”? Before and after projects show first-hand what’s possible in a transformative remodel. How do you make the most of a narrow galley? Should you swap your upper cabinets for floating shelves? What would it look like if you opened up your small kitchen? Renovation ideas abound in our spotlighted projects. A lot goes into a kitchen renovation, but it’s usually hard to tell from a beautiful “after” shot. Our monthly series “Island Hopping” is about getting a behind-the-scenes account of what the process is like through honest conversations—you know, the kind that typically take place around a kitchen island. We’ll chat with designers, homeowners, and architects about their projects, hoping to peel back the curtain on picture-perfect spaces.