Andy and Teresa Dyer were no strangers to renovations and building projects when they tackled a major overhaul in their Lansing home with a big vision in mind. The planning, designing, eye for detail, hard work, and sweat equity that went into this project make the end result that much sweeter. We were honored to be a part of this transformation and share the Dyer’s vision for a showcase kitchen.
When the Dyers purchased their Lansing home in June of 2012, Teresa had big plans for the kitchen and dining room areas. In the fall of 2016 they set about making that vision a reality. Teresa envisioned a kitchen that felt welcoming to many with enough room to entertain, all while feeling like a showpiece out of a magazine. The project began by removing a wall that separated an unused dining room from the kitchen space. Next up was taking the kitchen and adjoining family room down to the studs. With a bare canvas, they were able to run all new electrical for can lights, pendants, sconces, and functional outlets. They also adjusted the location of all kitchen appliances, requiring them to redirect plumbing and gas lines. A seven-foot window was added to mirror the one from the original dining area to open the space, add light, and provide design continuity. New drywall went up, beautiful cabinets were installed, new flooring throughout, granite countertops, state of the art appliances, and finishing touches were completed to create the showcase kitchen the Dyers dreamed about. Teresa is confident that the vision she set out to create has been accomplished. They can comfortably fit eight countertop height stools around the arch-shaped island and have room for others to sit at the dining room table or chose to dance near the bar area. She shared this with me in our interview, “Overall, we wanted the ‘wow’ effect and we achieved it!”
With a 16 foot island and over 100 square feet of granite, the countertops were definitely going to be an important part of the selection process to ensure the WOW effect Teresa was striving for. The Dyers were referred to Great Lakes Granite and Marble by Alex at Cabinets to Go. Andy and Teresa met with Aaron, project manager at Great Lakes. After discussing their project and sharing their vision for a showplace kitchen perfect for gathering and entertaining, Aaron selected a few slabs to show the Dyers. They toured the warehouse and further discussed the project, coming to the realization that they wanted to find a piece of granite that was a bit more exotic. Aaron immediately had some ideas and referred the Dyers to three nearby granite supply companies.
Occasionally, when a customer is looking for a unique or exotic stone, we may not have it in stock. In that case, we have relationships with a number of granite supply companies to refer our customers to. These suppliers only sell slabs and often stock three to four times the inventory of Great Lakes, this is impressive considering we stock over 900 slabs and over 180 colors in total! Slabs of granite on average. Andy and Teresa selected a beautifully exotic stone, Delicatus White, from Dwyer Marble and Stone Supply. Teresa was especially impressed with Aaron’s knowledge of what they were looking for and referring them to Dwyer to select their stone. They were able to secure the exotic stone that fit with their kitchen vision, while still working with Aaron and Great Lakes Granite & Marble for templating, fabricating, and installing.
With a 16 foot island, slab selection was key for this project. A seam is unavoidable for an island of that size, so Aaron went to work with Dwyer selecting slabs that would be mirror images of each other on the island. This technique of matching two or more slabs of stone, so that the two adjoining surfaces mirror each other like an opened book is referred to as bookmatching. This ensured that their big, bold, statement island would have a beautiful appearance. The seam was partially hidden under the cooktop on the island as well. Once the slabs were selected and brought into Great Lakes, Aaron met with Andy and Teresa to layout their kitchen design. Templating is another key in the project management step, selecting how your granite will be showcased in your kitchen. Ensuring patterns you love in your stone are highlighted and areas you may not care for are less visible or perhaps even eliminated when cut out for your cooktop or sink. When I asked Teresa about her experience with Great Lakes and specifically Aaron, she shared the following with me, “Aaron was patient and very knowledgable helping us to decide on the placement of the templates. This allowed us to reveal what we found to be the most beautiful sections of the granite. He was always available throughout our project from choosing our slabs to orchestrating the template process, and finally through the installation, as well as following up afterward.”
With any project, large or small, a budget is usually in play. When I asked the Dyers about their project they stressed that budget was important. As a matter of fact, Andy and Teresa did a great deal of the work for this renovation themselves. Aaron was very up front with the Dyers sharing that they could save a bit if they were able to find their granite in the Great Lakes warehouse. After selecting the Delicatus White from Dwyer Marble and Granite Supply, Aaron was still able to keep the Dyer’s on par within their budget.
The Dyer project was unique in the sense that the overall size of the kitchen is 38 feet long, boasting 104 square feet of granite, showcasing a 16-foot island with a bowed front overhang. With that amount of granite, choosing the right stone definitely made the difference in this project. To finish off the custom design kitchen, Andy and Teresa installed large 18 X 18 natural travertine stone floors, high-end appliances such as the in-wall plumbed Miele coffee maker and Miele microwave. There is a great story behind the coffee maker. When the Dyer’s daughter graduated from the United States Naval Academy, she took Teresa to Italy for 2 weeks of her 30 day leave. On that trip, Teresa was spoiled with an amazing cup of coffee and she decided it was necessary to include an in-wall coffee maker. This lead to the rest of the high-end appliances. They chose AGA Marvel appliances including a 36″ professional gas range, beverage refrigerator, and ice maker. For the gas range, they selected a telescopic downdraft rather than a hood in order to keep the view open throughout the room. The project was finished off with under counter task lighting, over cabinet lighting, beautiful onyx pendants and sconces, and a gorgeous mix of glass and metal backsplashes throughout the space.
When asked about the installation experience, the Dyers shared that the installers were exceptional. “Drew and Joe were very professional and knew exactly what they were doing. It was apparent from the moment they walked in the door to the final steps of cutting the hole for our telescopic downdraft. Drew wanted to make the cut exact, stating, “I always think ‘if it were my house’ I would want it to look perfect so that’s my goal for you.”
In closing out the interview, I asked Teresa if there was anything else I hadn’t captured that was important to share. She stated that they would recommend Great Lakes Granite and Marble to anyone. She shared a particular story that is worth including, “It wasn’t until the final steps of working with Great Lakes that we learned we had chosen an exquisite slab of granite. I knew I loved the large color variations, veins, and chunky deposits that created depth throughout our slabs; however, I had no idea the work it took to turn those slabs into the countertops we appreciate today.”
Granite can be classified into normal, semi-exotic, and exotic. The granite the Dyer’s chose for their project, Delicatus White, is an exotic stone. Exotic usually means many different minerals fusing together to create the end result. This typically leads to high pattern, variations, and uniqueness in your stone, it can also mean dry seams where the various minerals fused together. Often times you can feel these dry seams, and there is a risk of cracking during fabrication. When the slabs arrived from Dwyer, Aaron, Andy, and Teresa did the layout and templating of the kitchen countertop. At this time, Aaron shared the risk of the dry seam cracking during fabrication with Teresa and Andy. They understood this risk and Aaron explained the repair process to the Dyers should this occur during fabrication.
Post installation the Dyers had the opportunity to talk with Aaron and the installers about just how much work went into fabricating the granite for their project. A typical kitchen takes about one day to fabricate, but the Dyer project took four. Just as fabrication was finished, the delicate island stone did crack straight through the middle. Great Lakes repaired the slab with steel rebar and did such a tremendous job even those with a trained eye who had been in the field for decades could not find the crack. Teresa shared this information, “This speaks volumes to us; everyone at Great Lakes from the office staff, sales, fabrication crew and installers are professional and experienced. Great Lakes Granite & Marble is reputable and we are so very fortunate to have chosen them to assist us with our project!”
As you can see from the photos, the Dyers achieved their vision of a showcase kitchen worthy of a magazine spread. They are enjoying entertaining in their new beautifully appointed new space!