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AARP Recession Remodel Winner is from North Carolina

Judy Hammill of Richfield, NC is getting a kitchen make-over as one of two national winners of AARP’s Recession Remodel contest.

The mission of the contest was to find a kitchen that had not aged as well as the owner, and to make big improvements through a common sense design that would fit the budget of an average American homeowner. Universal design features would make the kitchen more accessible and functional, even as needs and abilities changed.

Judy lost her husband in 2006 after 48 years of marriage. At her daughter Jamie’s suggestion, Judy moved from her long-time home in Charleston, SC back to the farmhouse where she grew up in Richfield, some 50 miles outside Charlotte.

Beautiful, original wood floors from Judy’s father’s sawmill are a highlight throughout the compact house. Jamie and her husband live nearby on the farm, which has been in the family since the late 1800s.

The daughter entered on her mother’s behalf after reading contest details in a woman’s magazine.

“When I read the part where it talked about senior livability and being able to stay in a home, in a lovely community that’s friendly to folks in their later years, I thought, ‘This is perfect,’ ” Judy says. “This was my mother’s childhood home, she’s now back here, and it’s a wonderful place for her to be for many years to come.”

The pleasant, old-fashioned farmhouse kitchen Judy remembered now raises challenges because of a serious lack of storage and because her knee trouble puts some areas out of reach.

The original sink and water heater date from the 40s, and the only counter space is on the center island.

There are no storage cupboards, so Judy’s dishes are stored out in the open. And the cramped breakfast nook is too small to be used as is.

There’s no garbage disposal or dishwater, and the sink faucet handless are difficult to turn. There’s also poor lighting over the sink, especially when it’s dark outside.

Designers Jennifer Thompson of Burlington, Amy Baucom of Harrisburg and Calvin Hefner of Charlotte are focusing on overall usefulness in their makeover design, although they plan to maintain a farmhouse feel in the finishes for the cabinets and countertops.

“But really, we’re gearing this more towards functionality,” says Thompson. “We want to meet her needs in terms of work space, storage space and accessibility.”

“It’s just almost unbelievable what they’re going to be doing in the old kitchen,” says Judy Hammill.“ There’s going to be so much storage space with all the drawers and cabinets. It’s compact in the areas we have to use in there – using every inch, almost, in the kitchen and eating area, and it’s helping me create so much more room.”

Actual work should begin shortly, so stay tuned for progress reports from AARP.

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