Home » Home and Garden » New Kitchen for 2022: a GHI Renovation Story

New Kitchen for 2022: a GHI Renovation Story

posted in: Home and Garden

We’re elevating GHI member John Gareri’s kitchen renovation story from his Facebook account to Greenbelt Online, with permission. Why? Because it’s SO dramatic a change, and others can learn from it.


John’s report was titled “How I spent time in 2021… I got a new kitchen!”

I started the design process in February by contacting a designer who has done a lot of these homes, in fact, he lives in one. (David Frauenheim of Be Smart Homes.) Mine was built around 1937. It is made from concrete and concrete blocks and some plaster. There is no wood or other common building materials, aside from some thin drywall added relatively recently during some renovations.

All of that means lots and lots of challenges. The floors are 7 feet (yes, you read that right), of hardened concrete!

(Editor’s note: Asked to clarify the 7 feet, John wrote that: To drill into the floor to run things like electrical and plumbing up through the floor they have to drill through several feet of concrete. Most people think the crawl space is really close to where they live but in most cases there’s 5-7 feet of concrete to get through. Then they can start fishing their plumbing or cabling.)

David and I agreed on final plans in April of 2021. At that stage, I started the permitting process. Because I live in a cooperative, (GHI Homes)  I first had to get approval from the coop, and that took until May 15. The next permit was from Prince George County. That took another 6 weeks.

By June 25, I could finally get the cabinets and appliances ordered, and tradespeople found and organized. Do you remember how hard it was to buy some of those things in June/July 2021? Everything took several months!

On October 11, I was back from a trip to Maine and had enough materials and confidence that the builder could get started without running into long delays. The worst thing I wanted to have is a demolished kitchen and a builder who could not go further.

There were a few expected delays along the way: waiting for inspections, schedule of the electrician and plumber, countertops to be measured, made, then installed, holidays, etc, etc. The project wrapped up on December 29 when the county made its final inspection!




Thanks from John

I have a lot of people to thank for the amazing kitchen I now have.

  • David Frauenheim for a great and unique design and all the help guiding me and everyone along the way.
  • My builder Douglas Barrera, who executed the bulk of the plan the plan, was great to work with during the process.
  • Don Hudson, who persevered for two days putting a 6″ hole through the concrete wall so the range hood could be vented outside.
  • David Lilly of Lilly Electric and Shane Fuegel of Bionic Plumbing. They were both super easy to work with and made the seemingly impossible, possible.
  • And finally, friends and family with suggestions and feedback along the way. Most especially my brother and neighbor Joe Gareri and his wife Holly Wheeler. The occasional meals helped me avoid the constant task of deciding what microwave thing I could make or where to order takeout from.

If you want to see pictures that I took throughout the project, have a look at the photo album in google photos, https://photos.app.goo.gl/j3LkGKR6MT2kQs5f7

How Long Without a Working Kitchen?

So many kitchen renovators or potential renovators fret about having to go without a working kitchen for so long during the process.  Asked how long it was for this project, John responded:

I was fortunate because I have a garage and I was doubly fortunate because my neighbor offered space in her garage, as well. When the cabinets arrived from the cabinet maker they went into her garage and my garage collected everything else. Several days before the builder installed the cabinets we had to bring them into the house so they could acclimatize to the atmosphere in the house. I did set up a microwave in my living room and had access to my refrigerator the entire time. In fact, the refrigerator is the only appliance that I kept from what came with the house. Everything else was either too old, too big or something else.

A Word from the Designer

This Greenbelt GHI masonry was a new home for our client, John, and the kitchen didn’t match his style. Needless to say, it didn’t match anyone’s. He also had a few items that needed to fit into a GHI kitchen, fridge, wine fridge, microwave, full-size range, vented range hood, wash, and dyer, and we were not to move the circuit box, etc… It is a lot to fit into a small kitchen as anyone with a small kitchen can tell you. I am very proud of how this turned out with what may be the first island in a GHI home (without moving it to an addition). But this island serves a real purpose. The counter-depth washer and dryer are hidden from view, located in this island covered in mid-century style terrazzo quartz countertops.

David Frauenheim of Be Smart Homes

  1. Reed Johnson
    | Reply

    Great transformation you did there with John’s kitchen. I also love how you pointed out the importance of knowing the length and experience of having no kitchen while the renovation is ongoing. I think this is a major consideration for homeowners when remodeling. Great before, during, and after photos, as well! Well done!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *