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Home improvement: Rita gets a new kitchen

Staff writer

When Jesse and Rita Brunner of Tampa decide to do something, they go all out.

During the past year, they built an addition to their two-story colonial house at 3490 Indigo, making room for a larger kitchen, a utility room with an adjacent bathroom, and a large bedroom with a bath.

They also removed a door and two windows in the living room, rebuilt two walls, and installed a new window.

Insulation was blown into the walls of the original house and two chimneys were removed.

“We ran into a lot of obstacles along the way, but we got it done,” Rita said.

The first obstacle appeared soon after the project began in late November 2007. An ice storm hit, knocking out electricity and phone lines.

A broken water line on the second floor caused water damage to the dining room ceiling and two walls, which had to be replaced.

The couple returned home one day to discover bees had invaded their house. Using insect sprays, Jesse got rid of them.

Jesse worked alongside hired help for the entire project.

“We did a lot of planning and did our own design work,” he said.

The couple obviously is proud of the results.

The kitchen

The U-shaped kitchen incorporates the most up-to-date features including a touch-controlled, built-in range top with locked burners, built-in convection ovens and dishwasher, and recessed lighting. All appliances are stainless steel.

Dimmers are installed on many of the lights, and some are motion-activated.

Custom-built cabinets include turn-tables in every corner, a built-in cutting board, a roll-out trash bin, and a countertop cabinet in one corner to hold kitchen appliances.

A wide, side hutch provides more cupboard space. The counter is a perfect place to lay out a buffet.

A peninsular counter with bar stools provides a cozy place to eat when it’s just the two of them. All counter tops are granite, and the floor is tiled.

At Rita’s behest, the kitchen sink is styled after the large porcelain farmhouse sinks of earlier days.

Heating and air conditioning was switched from propane to electric, requiring an extra amount of insulation. Two heat pumps provide the energy.

Exterior improvements

The Brunners didn’t stop with the interior. They also renovated the exterior. New windows were installed throughout the house.

They removed old vinyl siding, put on a layer of Styrofoam insulation, and installed concrete siding.

Old shingles were removed — three layers of them — and replaced with hail- and wind-resistant shingles.

Electric lines feeding the house were buried underground.

The Brunners aren’t done yet. They plan to renovate the back porch area and install a bathroom near the back entrance. They also plan to install window shutters and erect pillars on the front porch.

“People ask me why we are doing this expansion now, when our children are raised,” Jesse said. “I tell them we need the space for when they and the grandchildren come home to visit.”

The Brunners have three children — Travis, Melissa, and Nathan — and five grandchildren.

Last modified April 15, 2009

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