You love your charming, old house, but the outdated kitchen is just not livable.

How do you make it open and inviting without hurting the character of your home?


Does your kitchen look like a "before" photo?


You want a kitchen where you can entertain; not a cramped, outdated space that makes you embarrassed to have friends over for dinner.

But how do you design something more open that still harmonizes with the rest of the house?


The Old House, New Kitchen Problem

Here’s the problem. You love the charm of your old house. The heavy old doors, solid wood trim, built-ins, and wavy glass windows. It’s amazing how rooms that are over 100 years old still work so well.

Except the kitchen.

For old house lovers, it’s tough to know what to do about your kitchen. Nowadays, kitchens are the social center of the home. Sure, people had dinner parties 100 years ago, but they thought food preparation should be hidden behind closed doors or, even better, a job for the servants.

Life is different now. We’re not embarrassed to invite our friends into the kitchen while we cook. In fact, that’s one of the best parts of preparing a meal -- cooking while a friend keeps you company, sipping a glass of wine.

After renovating countless old-house kitchens, we’ve figured out the fail-proof design formula for an open, inviting kitchen that fits seamlessly into the character of your old house.

Yes, you can have a light-filled, spacious kitchen without knocking down your beautiful plaster walls. Yes, you can have a practical, efficient layout even though you have enormous old windows, doors, and trim to work around. Yes, you can un-do the countless bad renovations your house has endured over the decades.

When you own and love an old house, a kitchen renovation isn’t as simple as updating the cabinets and countertops. Your challenge is this -- how do you create an open, modern-day kitchen that speaks the language of your historic home?

This is our unique promise. Old House | Open Kitchen is our method for designing a kitchen that is the perfect balance of old and new.

Sara & Sean seamlessly weave gorgeous new modern kitchens into historic homes’ original footprints. Their creativity and sense of flow through the home highlights the importance of today’s kitchen and how it connects to the rest of the house.
— Denise Retallack

Imagine what it will be like to pull off the kitchen renovation of your dreams.

  • You can cook for a dinner party while you’re friends keep you company at a nice island or breakfast nook.
  • It’s no longer a struggle to simply cook a healthy meal.
  • You’ve got plenty of counter space and storage. You can keep everything organized.
  • You can actually see and hear people hanging out in the next room, even as you make drinks and prep the appetizers.
  • Even though the kitchen is new, friends will tell you it blends perfectly with the rest of the house. Like it’s been that way all along!

People will ask you who you hired to pull off this amazing design and you'll say, "Actually, I did it myself."


Let me guess. You’ve known for years you want to overhaul your kitchen. But you have no idea where to begin.

  • You know what you like when you see it, but when it comes to designing your dream kitchen from scratch, you’re at a loss.
  • Who should you hire? Designers, contractors? How do you know they’ll be old-house savvy?
  • How do you keep the budget from spiraling out of control?
  • How do you make sure your design won’t look out-of-date again in 5 years; full of trends that seemed like a good idea, but go out of style fast?
  • If you do hire help, how do you make sure your pros don’t hijack the design and send the style or scope down the wrong path?
  • You’re not a professional renovator; how do you avoid first-timer mistakes and renovator’s remorse?
  • How do you make the kitchen fit with your old house? Where can you source materials that aren’t available in the big box stores (without spending a fortune)?


These are concerns we've heard from dozens of clients. Read on to discover how you can avoid these common pitfalls.

My kitchen renovation was not going to be easy. Limited space, unique design challenges, and my insistence in keeping the ambiance of my century-old home. Sean and Sara listened, embraced, and transformed my vision into reality; coaching each step of the way while keeping a close eye on my well defined budget. To do this without the help of an architect, one who loves old homes, is a fundamental and costly mistake.
— Bill Myers
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Is a 6-week online course that shows you how to transform your cramped kitchen into the most inviting room in your home.

From day one, Sean and Sara embraced our vision for a bright, open and functional kitchen whose design would preserve the character of our old home.  They managed to find space we never imagined was there, and the design is timeless.  The new wide-open kitchen is now the centerpiece of the entire house and the place everyone gathers when they visit.
— Polly & Don Walker
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life before your kitchen renovation:

  • You’re stressed every time you look at your kitchen.
  • You have to chop vegetables on a cutting-board on top of your stove because you have so little counter space.
  • You don’t invite people over because your non-functional kitchen makes it so hard to entertain.
  • It’s a struggle even to prepare a home-cooked meal.
  • You keep large pans in your oven because you have no storage.
  • If you ever go to sell your house, you worry no one would buy a place with such an outdated kitchen.
  • You’re afraid to start on a kitchen project because it would be so easy to ruin the character of your old house with a poorly-planned kitchen renovation.

life after your kitchen renovation:

  • You walk into your kitchen and the clean countertops are gleaming. With plenty of storage, you don’t have to keep things out all the time.
  • You’ve got the perfect mix of functional lighting and beautiful, classic pendants. No more dark, shadowy spots.
  • You can host your book club, poker night, or potluck. You’re finally not embarrassed to cook for a crowd.
  • You can help you kids with homework and cook dinner at the same time; without getting in each other’s way.
  • Cooking and cleaning is a breeze with a place for everything and everything in its place.
  • There’s plenty of room even when you’ve got helpers in the kitchen.

Course curriculum

Six weeks and six modules to design an open kitchen perfect for your old house.


module 1



  • How to set a budget. You've got a wishlist, we have real-life price tags. This lesson will teach you how much most people spend fixing up kitchens similar to yours so you can set a realistic number. We divide kitchens into Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3. Learn which category you're in and what that means for the bottom line.
  • Planning your schedule. How long should a Level 1, 2, or 3 kitchen take? How much of that is design versus shopping and construction?
  • Who to hire (or go it alone)? We'll help you decide whether you can do everything yourself or if you should consider hiring professional design and construction help. 
  • In addition to the how-to videos, you get: 
    • A printable Project Manual to fill out each week of the class
    • At-a-glance timeline printable
    • Weekly timeline pages
    • Script for interviewing contractors
    • Script for interviewing architects and designers

module 2



  • Programming. Programming is what architects call the "gathering information" phase. We guide you through a detailed checklist to figure out what's wrong with your current kitchen, how to fix it, and develop a comprehensive list of what the new kitchen should contain.
  • Cutting scope. Most people assume budget overruns start during construction. Nope! They start waaaay before that in the planning phase. Here we'll help you prune your program so you're planning only the space and amenities that are important to you, with no fluff.
  • In addition to the how-to videos, you get: 
    • Programming worksheet
    • Cheatsheet: 5 hard and fast rules for sticking to a budget
    • Script: What to say so you get the best deals when you shop

module 3



  • How to draw to scale. We teach a hand-drawing method using our scaled, printable grid paper as well as a digital method using free, online 3-D modeling software.
  • Generating and testing new layouts. Armed with lots of dimensions and code knowledge, we'll show you exactly how we dream up new layouts and test them in pen and ink to see whether they work.
  • In addition to the how-to videos, you get: 
    • Printable, scaled grid paper with scale kitchen objects (appliances, cabinets, seating, islands, etc).
    • A guide to free, 3-D appliances and premade models you can use in your digital drawings
    • Cheatsheet: Kitchen codes that will likely apply to you (from the International Residential Code)
    • Reference: Kitchen clearances and standard dimensions
    • Case studies: Example kitchens we've designed, with dimensions

module 4



  • Design Do’s and Don’ts for new kitchens in old houses. Five tricks to use and five traps to avoid -- our BEST lessons learned.
  • Working around low windows, large doors, and historic trim. Old kitchens are littered with tricky obstacles. Here's how the pros handle these challenges.
  • How to choose products and materials that reinforce your vision. Shopping for products and finishes can make or break your design. Here's how to make selections that align with your goals and style. 
  • In addition to the how-to videos, you get: 
    • Products shopping list spreadsheet
    • Knowledge base for selecting specific products
    • Our favorite vendors list

module 5



  • How to run a competitive bid. We'll show you what drawings, photographs, and selections you need, how to run a pre-bid meeting, how to verify and check your contractors, and how to receive and compare estimates.
  • What it takes to be your own GC. We'll help you decide whether being your own GC is a fit for your life and your kitchen renovation. You'll learn how to find subs and what resources we recommend.
  • Permitting. What?? A permit for a kitchen renovation? We'll tell why a permit can save your skin; especially if this is your first time working with a contractor. And we'll show you how easy it is to get one.
  • Special approvals. If you're changing anything on the exterior of your home (moving a window, adding a  french door), you may need to get approval from a Historic Zoning Overlay or Homeowners' Association. We'll show you what they're looking for so you can be set for success.
  • In addition to the how-to videos, you get: 
    • Phone script for calling contractors
    • Email template for sending to bidders
    • GC verification checklist
    • Example bid packet
    • Estimate review checklist (who’s pulling the permit, were allowances made, is it a fixed fee or cost plus…)
    • Outside resource list for being your own GC
    • Outside resource: The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties

module 6



  • Construction timeline. What's normal and how to get your GC keep you in the loop about delays.
  • Should you move out? How this impacts timeline and your sanity.
  • Living in construction. How to set up a temporary kitchen, keeping "clean zones" in your house.
  • Stay on top of progress. A lot of homeowners are afraid of being a "squeaky wheel," but that's exactly what you should do when it comes to checking in with your GC and team.
  • How to do a punch list. Use our free printable to make sure every cabinet door is aligned, the paint job is perfect, and you're move-in ready.
  • In addition to the how-to videos, you get: 
    • Critical path construction diagrams (detailed timelines)
    • Printable punch list

The magic of this program is how much support you get without the expense of hiring a full-service architect or designer.

In addition to the comprehensive course content, you’ll have even more help along the way.


There’s a user forum right inside the course platform where you can get input from other students and ask questions. Every Monday, we chime in with answers to the most common questions from the group.


We have our own private Facebook group where you can chat with other OHOK renovators, share photos, and get ideas. We also do a weekly round up to weigh in on issues common to the group.


At week 6 of the course, we host a live group design review where you can ask us questions directly. You can even send us your plans and photos beforehand for a chance to be featured in a case study we discuss on the call.

We wanted to open up our kitchen, which was challenging with the structure and layout of our old house. Sara and Sean listened to our hopes and ideas and found ways to implement them all. They provided expert advice on practical aspects and beautiful design suggestions we would never have thought of! The result is an open kitchen that provides a comfortable, welcoming center to our home, whether for 2 or for 20.
— Devon Burr & Josh Emery

Investing in design services

When clients hire us privately to design their custom kitchen, we charge 10-15% of construction costs. That can be anywhere between $6,000 - $20,000 in architectural fees, depending on the size and complexity of the renovation.

With the Old House | Open Kitchen course, you get access to our expertise for a fraction of the cost of our professional services. Plus, when we work for a client individually, we don’t teach them how to do what we do.

You get to look behind the curtain. Completing this course gives you the confidence and education needed to renovate like a pro.


How long will it take?

Old House | Open Kitchen is a 6-week course. Each week, you will be given assignments that typically take between 2-8 hours to complete.

If it takes you longer than that, it’s probably because you’re having fun getting into the nitty gritty details of your kitchen design!

But everyone’s situation is different and some people will take longer than others. The great thing about a digital course is, no matter how busy you are, you can do the work in bite-sized chunks that fit into real life.

Sara and Sean took the time to help me understand what I wanted a kitchen to feel like. They added thoughtful guidance and expertise, and I ended up with the kitchen of my dreams that I practically live in.
— Kerry Cholka
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Why now is the best time to begin your kitchen renovation.

How long have you been feeling your stress level rise every time you walk into your kitchen? Was it 6 months ago when your old linoleum floor started curling at the edges? Was it 5 years ago when you moved into your house?

How long are you going to wait before you finally say “enough is enough,” and you turn that kitchen into a space that feels great and functions the way you want it to?

In order for us to give the best support to our students, we only open enrollment to Old House | Open Kitchen a few times each year. Do you really want to wait months to transform a room that stresses you out on a daily basis?

Even if you’re not ready to start tearing out walls today, a kitchen renovation should be planned well in advance. This course shows you how to lay the groundwork today so you’ll be ready to take big steps in the future like choosing your finishes, buying cabinets, and hiring a contractor.


Old House | Open Kitchen is a six-week course that runs according to the following schedule:

  • March 16th: Enrollment opens, welcome module released

  • March 26th: Module 1 released (official course start date)

  • April 2nd: Module 2 released

  • April 9th: Module 3 released

  • April 16th: Module 4 released

  • April 23rd: Module 5 released

  • April 30th: Module 6 released

  • May 1st: Live Design Review Group Call

  • May 2nd: One-on-One calls begin (scheduled individually)


Is this really going to work for me?

We understand -- it's a big project and it's intimidating. Here are some answers to the top concerns of would-be kitchen renovators.


This course is not for you if...

Old House | Open Kitchen is for people who give top priority to design quality and old-house character.

This course is not for you if:

  • Cost is your #1 factor in every decision
  • Design, style, and aesthetic are low on your priority list
  • You want to knock every wall in your kitchen down and have a super modern, totally exposed space
  • You're not one of those "old house" people
  • What you really want is a class to teach you how to construct your kitchen renovation. We don't teach how to build, we focus on how to plan, design, and execute your renovation.

Bottom line? If you're looking for the quickest, cheapest way to fix up your kitchen, this course is going to be more than what you need. But if you're the sort of person who likes to craft a careful plan and spend the time selecting details and making decisions to support that vision, this course is for you.

When we approached Open Door Architecture about our extensive kitchen remodel, Sara and Sean really listened. To how we live, and what we hoped to gain by going through the renovation process. Their guidance was gold!
— Shawn Owens
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Meet your architect.

An architect for a kitchen renovation? Yes.

After helping dozens of clients renovate their kitchens, we've seen that there's a real shortage of objective, professional information out there about kitchen design.

Most of what you'll find is either pretty pictures (a lot of fluff without much practical, how-to instruction), or an encyclopedia of technical information with no guidance about how to pull together a design you love.

Our passion is helping people design their dream kitchen – and providing the knowlege so they can actually make it a reality.


Satisfaction 100% guaranteed.

We wholeheartedly believe in Old House | Open Kitchen, and we want you to feel confident in trying it out for yourself!

That's why we have a 100% Risk Free Guarantee. You can try Old House | Open Kitchen for 30 days, and if you aren't satisfied, just ask us for a full refund by 11:59pm Eastern US Time on April 25th, 2018.

If you do the work, put in your best effort, and feel that we haven’t delivered, we will issue a 100% refund.

To read our full refund policy, click here.


What happens when I buy?

When you click one of the buying options for Old House | Open Kitchen, you'll go to a page where you select either a pay-in-full option or an installment plan.


From there, you'll see a secure checkout page where you enter your payment information.

Our course software platform, Teachable, will ask you to create an account with a password.


Boom! Then you've got access to the course! We created a Welcome Module to get you started. Then we're kicking things off with the release of Module 1 on March 26th.


You'll also receive purchase confirmations and a welcome email from us. That's it! Instant access.