The challenge: Although the kitchen in Frank and Barb Abramson's St. Louis Park home was sizable, it was inefficient, poorly lit and straight from the '70s. They wanted an updated kitchen with better function but within the same footprint.

The designer: Duane Skyberg of Renasci Designers, 763-546-5400,

Work flow: The U shape and distance between the refrigerator, stove and sink made it "a one-person kitchen," according to Skyberg. "It was a dead end. There was no way to circulate. Two people working in there would run into each other." He tightened the work triangle by moving the refrigerator near the sink, put a cooktop where the stove had been and added double ovens and a built-in microwave.

The wall came down: In order to open the space up without building out, Skyberg removed a wall that had housed the refrigerator and opened the kitchen to the family room. While it didn't change the square footage, it allowed for more of what Skyberg calls "walk around" space.

Treasured island: With their children out of the house, the Abramsons wanted a place for casual dining. Skyberg managed to fit in an island (shaped like an elongated hexagon), which he installed at an angle. It not only serves as a gathering spot, but provides extra workspace, too.

Neat trick: The shape of the island allowed Skyberg to fit it with less-expensive standard cabinets rather than costlier custom cabinets.

Nice surprise: The Abramsons lost little or no storage space, even though they lost a wall. That's because Skyberg eliminated the soffit and took the cabinets to the ceiling, built cabinets into the island and added a built-in buffet along the wall to the dining room (not shown).

Light it up: Opening the kitchen to the family room brought in lots of natural light. They also added task lights under the top row of cabinets and pendant lights over the island.

End result: Frank Abramson calls the remodeled kitchen/family room combo "a user-friendly, family-friendly space. It's not a great room, because it's not that big. We like to say it's a really good room."

To submit before-and-after photos of a redecorated or remodeled room for consideration, send uncompressed jpeg images to Please include your name and phone number.