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Lance ArmstrongPhoto: Getty Images

There's a good reason Lance Armstrong's kitchen is so comfortable and inviting. This is not merely a showplace, but the heart of a family home where the cycling superstar is raising children (he shares amicable joint custody of three young children with his former wife), and where he plans to live until his kids graduate from high school.

"Dad's not moving again," Armstrong told his kids, as was first reported in Architectural Digest (their original story contains almost a dozen photos of Armstrong's amazing estate).

At first glance the kitchen seems luxurious beyond most people's budget, with stately stainless steel pendant lights, slab stone counters and a dramatic beamed ceiling.

However, if you break the kitchen down into components, many of the features are well within the budget and abilities of a talented DIYer. Consider how some of these changes to a typical kitchen could give you the look of Lance Armstrong's cozy retreat.

Let's take a closer look at how to make the following features your own:

• Faux wood beams on ceiling
• Banquette in kitchen
• Pendant lights hung over island or peninsula
• Inlaid tile floor in working area
• Shelf above windows for family photos


To install lightweight faux wood beams, you must attach wooden mounting blocks to the ceiling and screw the side of the beam into those. Photo: Faux Wood Beams

A closeup of the realistic grain of a faux wood beam. Photo: Faux Wood BeamsCloseup of a faux wood beam's realistic grain. Photo: Faux Wood Beams

You may think those are heavy wooden beams in Armstrong's kitchen, but that's not necessarily so. Unless these are structural beams -- sitting on top of the wall framing and holding up the ceiling -- you're better off with lightweight faux beams made of foam (such as Styrofoam), resin, or dense polyurethane.

According to Susan Serra, a certified kitchen designer (CKD) and author of the popular The Kitchen Designer blog, even the most upscale remodels sometimes include faux beams. With their realistic textures and colorings, many faux beams so closely resemble genuine wood that it's hard to tell the difference. (One downside? Styrofoam is not an eco-friendly material.)

Many styles are available for faux wood beams; see some examples here.

Photo: Ackue

To install a faux beam, which is shaped like a hollow channel (see picture above), first install wooden mounting blocks (about 2" thick) on the ceiling every 4 to 5 feet. The beams are so light that the blocks can either be installed with screws into a beam in the ceiling or with a toggle bolt into sheetrock or drywall.

Faux beams generally come in lengths between 10 and 20 feet, but you can easily cut them to the right length with a handsaw. Then run a bead of adhesive or caulk on the edges of the beam, lift it up and over the mounting blocks, and press it to the ceiling. (Try this trick: Place painter's tape on the ceiling next to the blocks prior to placing the beam so you'll know where each mounting block is located once the beam is in place.)

Then install screws through the beam and into the block. By countersinking the screws, you can cover up the holes with wood putty. For further instruction, watch this video on installing faux wood beams.

For a cozy banquette, certified kitchen designer Susan Serra suggests topping ready-made 24"-deep cabinets (made for using above deep refrigerators) of the height you like: 12 or 15 inches. The cabinets provide plenty of structure for seating -- and give you the bonus of extra storage.

This banquette was made using Ikea wall cabinets topped with an upholstered platform. Photo: Ikea Hacker

Photo: Ikea Hacker

You can make the bench using shallower cabinets by building some framing to extend the seating area (see photo). However, as the creator of this banquette admitted, he should have installed these cabinets upside down so the doors would open from the top and make the storage area easier to access.

Cabinets that are 24 inches deep work best for creating a banquette bench. However, shallower cabinets (such as 18 inches deep) can be made to work by building a wooden frame behind the cabinet. (For more, see a cozy banquette for two fashioned from a daybed.)

This element might sound simple to DIY, but you must consider several issues. First, is there enough structure up above to hold the lights? The bigger and heavier the lights (thus the more dramatic), the more this will be an issue. An open attic above the kitchen gives you ample access to beef up the framing.
You also need to run electrical to the pendant lights, and a switch on the wall. If you're not a pro, I suggest you call in a licensed electrician for this -- and it's likely your area requires this. See a video from This Old House on how to hang pendant lights.


This idea is so simple, yet so striking. Most of us love the idea of hardwood floors in the kitchen. However, we don't want get them marred and stained from food and debris. Integrating a tiled strip in the working area is a nice-looking solution.

You two main issues will be choosing the best tile for a kitchen, and making sure the tile and wood sections are even. Designer Susan Serra says, "Porcelain is great because it has color all the way through and usually gets high ratings for durability." Having color all the way through becomes important in case the tile chips so that you're not left with a glaring white wound. For more, see this guide for choosing tile from the National Kitchen and Bath Association.

Of utmost importance is making sure the two surfaces are exactly the same level. Typically, when different flooring materials are installed in different rooms, the seams are is hidden by a doorway threshold. When laying tile right next to wood, getting the transition right takes more finesse. This job will take more than basic DIY skills.

To make sure the tile and wood are at the right height, you must calculate the depth of subfloor and wood flooring, then compare that with the depth of the subfloor, underlayment, "mud' or thinset below the tile, and the tile itself. To cut into an existing floor, you'll use a circular saw to make the long cuts, and then use a specialty precision tool, such as the Fein Multimaster, to cut carefully into the corners.

For a step-by-step, see this guide to installing a tile inlay.

And finally, to make your kitchen as family-friendly as the Armstrong kitchen, consider installing shelves above the windows to hold framed photos. Make the shelf deep enough to lean the frames back, which eliminates the need for picture-hanging hardware in the walls and gives you ultimate flexibility to change the photos as the kids grow up.

One caution: If you live in earthquake country, you'll want to secure those frames somehow so they don't become flying hazards when the ground begins shaking. See a cool gadget for hanging level shelves.

FOR MORE GREAT REMODELING IDEAS, check out the author's blog, Kathy's Remodeling Blog


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  • Lori

    and I care about seeing his kitchen because???????

  • Kathy Price-Robinson

    Because there are some nice elements in his kitchen that can be replicated in an average kitchen with DIY skills. And that's why people come to this site, to discover how to do nice DIY projects.

  • cl

    So, do you want to see some apartment 6 x 8 kitchen that looks like crap instead????? Geez, it's just a nice kitchen people, get over it. Maybe instead of being on AOL you need to be out looking for a job in "these crappy economic times." I have been trying to hire help for about two or three months but can't find anyone who wants to work anymore.

  • cuhoch

    because . . . some of us are redoing our kitchens and LIKE seeing other kitchens. because some of us enjoy new ideas. because some of us aren't as full of attitude and have a life. you need to calm down, sit back and try to enjoy life sunshine.

  • Hattie Crabtree

    This reporter didn't do her homework.What else is new?Lance has a 4 th child with his current girlfriend.The little boy Max must be about a year old now.

  • mary

    Depends on when the story was originally written. Writers will submit their story, but it can sit forever before being published.

  • JulieLoftLA

    It's easy to have a gourmet kitchen like this when you have the money Lance Armstrong has.

    We real-world people dealing with the crappy economy and absurd unemployment rate really don't want to see this.

  • Ginger K.

    With all due respect for the hard times we are all in, I think this article is perfect for these times. It shows us how to create beauty in our homes for very little money. I mean, she's talking about Ikea cabinets to make a banquette and putting foam beams on the ceiling. We can't wait until the economy turns around to make our homes beautiful.

  • bgs

    So why did you click on to see his kitchen? Why do people have to be so jealous because they don't have everything that people who have more than them have? Be glad for what you have and be glad for what they have. He may have a lot of money but may be lacking in something you have. Get a life and quit spending your time being jealous. So the economy sucks! Make the best of your life.

  • cj

    Why do you all have to hate? It's a nice article for someone who wants afforable ideas for DIY kitchen. Why read it in the first place if you don't care???

  • Val

    People who are jealous and miserable in their own lives give nasty and negative feedback. I guess they either didn't know or forgot that Lance combated cancer once (if not twice) and is lucky to be alive and healthy to work and afford what he has. Beautiful kitchen Lance, enjoy!

  • bgs

    cj, I agree totally. I don't know why people have to hate because people have "more" than they do. I am not rich enough to afford this kitchen either but I think it's awesome that some people do. I can't afford this kitchen but I can take these ideas and do cheaper ideas or something to make mine look better if this the look I want. Why even look at it if you are going to complain.

  • cj


  • expert

    Oh, sure, I want my kitchen to look like a restaurant or Bed and Breakfast! Why not present articles on "real" people's kitchens and inexpensive ways to improve them. I would say about 90% of American kitchens don't even come close to this extravagance. Get with the times, AOL.

  • bgs

    Who cares that it looks like a "bed and breakfast?" It is what HE likes because it is HIS kitchen. No one said you have to like it or even look at it. He may even like a flavor or Baskin and Robbins you don't like!! Get a life people. It was just a look at a kitchen. Quit hating! No one said you have to do this to your kitchen.

  • poot

    That's terrific. Then I suggest you don't do this to your kitchen. Why would you care what he does with his, I'm pretty sure he doesn't give a shyt what you do with yours.

  • expert

    And BTW, this "kitchen" is as large as at least a third of most people's homes.

  • Kate

    It is always a pleasure to look at beautiful designs in a home, even if all we can afford to do is wash the windows and rearrange the furniture to make our own homes look more inviting. Dreaming is good for the soul!

  • Frank

    Who the hell cares about Armstrongs or anyone elses kitchen? So he has the money to build any kitchen he desires...and who the hell cares??

  • Val

    The article only mentioned the 3 children he has with his ex-wife because he has shared custody. With the current girlfriend he may have full custody because they are together. I doubt she meant to slight the 4th child.

  • 39 Comments / 2 Pages

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