Bob Boyer and his team at Boyer Building Corporation are no strangers to working with generations. As an almost 75-year-old, family run company, it’s built into their DNA. “My dad, [Joe] Boyer, he was a small entrepreneur,” Boyer says. “[He] did a lot of work in the Minnetonka area, and he retired in 1983. That’s when my brothers and I took over the company.”
This kind of legacy makes it unsurprising that Boyer Building works with multiple generations of clients’ families, too.
When Sarah and Alex Ulici moved themselves and their young family to Plymouth in January 2021, they knew they wanted to remodel their home. When it came time to do so, Sarah’s parents, also Plymouth residents, made a recommendation.
“I did a remodeling project for the parents back about four years ago,” Boyer says. “We did a major master bedroom, master bathroom renovation.” A few years later, Sarah’s parents contacted Boyer Building again with a kitchen remodel project. “And no sooner did we get that done than Sarah calls, and she wants to have her kitchen done,” Boyer says.
Alex says that their house, a ’92 build, is a fairly common Plymouth setup for that era. The eat-in kitchen featured honey-colored cabinets and granite countertops surrounding a small, two-person island. A small, formal dining room adjoined the kitchen.
“The old kitchen had everything, I would say, people want written down on paper,” Sarah says. What it didn’t have was space to entertain the way the couple wanted to. “The island was an island, but if I was trying to host a party or have anyone over, as soon as you would put some food on it, it’s not usable anymore,” Sarah says.
Moving from a condo with a “decent” kitchen and nice living room, the duo knew not to underestimate the magnetism of the kitchen. “Nobody would hang out [in the living room],” Alex says. “Everyone would go to the kitchen, so we wanted to create this central space.”
With that goal in mind, the couple placed a few bids, and Boyer Building’s vision is what ended up drawing them to the company. “The other bids that we got, they took our idea and told us how much it would cost,” Alex says. “But Boyer came in and said, ‘Yeah, your idea |is great, but how about we come in and do this, and this and this?’”
This back and forth opened up the couple’s minds to a lot of different aspects of the kitchen, which is what Alex says sold Boyer Building for them. “We were looking for someone with experience that knows how to envision it, because we were knocking down walls and it was hard to picture that,” Alex says.
“One thing I noticed right off the bat when we went into the house was that it was a very traditional home with a formal dining room,” Boyer says. The best way to enlarge the kitchen, they decided, was to push the kitchen into the dining area, nixing it as a separate room. This also gave them the floor room to add an entertaining-worthy 12-foot island, capped off with a two foot butcher block.
With all that additional space, it was time to consider lighting. “It had very poor lighting and very small windows in the kitchen,” Alex says, adding, “You could hardly see anything out of it because it was higher up, so it was a dark kitchen.”
The window had also caught Boyer’s eye. “It occurred to me that, because of the size of the kitchen, as big as it was going to get, that they could afford to have a much larger window,” he says. They subsequently installed an 8-foot-wide, 5-foot-tall window outside the back wall facing east.
“That’s one thing, I guess you could call it a signature, one of the things I like to do in kitchens is really open them up to the outside,” Boyer says. “People spend so much time in their kitchen, and it’s a shame that you don’t have more natural light coming into the kitchen. It just makes people happier, and I think it’s a real positive for everyday living, more access to the outdoors.”
Aside from natural light, the couple came up with novel ways to brighten the kitchen space, too. “By far the most unique [feature], that I haven’t seen in any house, is that we put LED lighting under the island,” Alex says. “That’s something Bob and the electrician said they’d never done before and that they’d start to do.”
The Ulici’s story with lighting doesn’t end there. “We have cabinet lighting; we have lighting in the glass on the top little cabinets,” Sarah says. There are three pendant lights over the island, as well as three banker’s lights over the window, “ ... So that we can control what we want the light to look like,” she says.
Remodeling during COVID-19 did have its drawbacks, mainly supply-chain issues. But Sarah says in one case, this led to a happy mistake in their new kitchen design. “The lights that go above the window, we were originally going to do banker’s lights with a pretty long arm,” she says. But out of the three places they went to, each one reported that the banker’s lights would be out of stock for a very long time. The replacement lighting ending up being a successful choice.
With the new kitchen up and running, the Ulici family now has the chance to gather the way they want to. “Every Friday night is pizza night,” Alex says. “We make pizza with kids, my parents come over, Sarah’s parents come over and we are in no way cramped. Everyone’s making pizza on the counter, and you’re not on top of others. That’s the whole purpose of doing this, to bring people together in one nice space.”
One Person’s “Trash” …
“One thing that was important to us was we really didn’t want everything to end up in a dumpster,” Sarah says. “Just because it’s not our style doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for someone else.” The couple sold all of the cabinetry, counters and appliances through Facebook Marketplace.
Although it was extra work on their end, Sarah says she thinks it was worth it. “I know Bob and his carpenters were like, ‘It’s kind of nice to not throw a lot of stuff away,’” she says.
“I’m a really big fan of the pot filler we put in. I use it for a number of different things. I like how fast the water comes out, and it’s so convenient with the pots being right there over the cooktop.”
“I think the one other thing I really like is how we don’t have an eat-in kitchen. You walk into our house, and you see where the eat-in kitchen would have gone, [but now] it’s a straight shot to the sliding glass doors of the back that overlook a big willow. It just makes it feel so much more spacious. We have two little kids, so it’s good to have extra space for them to play around, too.”