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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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  • cathy

    This is really impersonal and dreary. It looks like a chain bar/restaurant. Imagine eating breakfast in there? Lance or no Lance. It looks cold and not a place to be cooking and enjoying food with friends. I guess I mean it has a corporate feel.

  • chinna

    It's a beautiful kitchen that anyone would be proud to have. Lance has every right to celebrate his success. This guy came too close to death to be a shallow celebrity, like those who live in La La land. He has given his pound of flesh and keeps giving to everyone who is suffering from cancer. Give the guy a break and be thankful we've got people on this earth like Lance Armstrong. We should all have the courage and intestinal fortitude that he has if we are ever faced with what he faced. Congratulation Lance! You have a beautiful home in Austin, Tx.

  • mary

    to tell you the truth. i don't like it. it looks like a restaurant to me too!

  • David S.

    There are some great elements to this kitchen; however, I would remove the table and chairs in the left corner. Makes it way too crowded. Either a small more intimate table and chairs or just use the dining room, which I am sure there is one!

  • john s

    where is the fridge? the layout is not very convienent for a real working kitchen.....

  • KGartland

    There is a very good chance that there are refrigerator drawers in the Island but I would imagine that there is also a 60" built in not in the view.

  • neil eloy

    If this story does not speak to you, why would you stop to read it long enough to even comment on it? There are people that are doing well and can afford to do projects in their home. Are they supposed to stop their lives because of the unemployment rate? These projects happen to employ craftsmen, electricians and carpenters. If you can see beyond your own misery and see the big picture, you would see that these tips are helpful in stimulating the economy.

  • JOwen

    Wow, what a kitchen. I could work wonders with all that room Beautiful!

  • KGartland

    There are some really nice elements in this kitchen but I'd have to say the cabinetry is not one of them. The cabinets are so bland they are completely devoid of style. As a kitchen designer I am very underwhelmed, especially for a star client like Lance. The tile backsplack was just as unimaginitive as the cabinetry. Maybe Lance likes the whole modern streamline look with a wood feel but it should have been done much better.

  • BS

    I would imagine the fridge is on this end of the kitchen at the end of the island. I think it is fine since it offers you an island and the oven, island and sink (on island) are in a triangle of each other.

  • DysArtTiles

    Nice tile floor. If you want more color or a themed painting, come to I am working through this "crappy ecoomy." lol
    I will paint anything you desire, real American hand-painted artwork for the price of "photo" tiles

  • vonda

    I love it! i have an idea now of what i want to do in my kitchen and i can afford it , it may not look like his but because of the article i have a more reasonable and cheaper way to do it

  • Debbie

    Looks cold and uninviting. There's something Wright brothers plane-ish about it. As for the person that commented about people need to get off AOL and get a job...I have a job and my husband has a job, 40 hours a week, have been there over 6 years, and yes, I'm still commenting. Get over it!

  • vonda

    ive been looking for idea's and because of this article i have some new idea's and a cheaper way of doing them, who cares who the kitchen belongs to i appreciate the fact that i can too get that look but at more reasonable costs in these hard times. and maybe even change it around to where its my own and make costs even cheaper so i love articles like these we are all trying to save money.

  • Lindi

    oh yahhhhhh, and I believe in Santa Lance Armstrong reaally cooks and gives a hoot about a kitchen....give me a break.

  • Carol

    Okay, I did feel a little of ''This is so not my zip code". I am fortunate to have what I do have and would not want to trade places with Lance. He has been through a lot and has skills that aren't in my repetoire. Please publish some of the healthy recipes that help Lance to do what he does. You go Lance!! I'm off to fill up my gratitude journal.

  • tara

    i guess its true what they say money cant.............. oh never mind.

  • Margaret Harrity

    No, no, no, y'all don't get it! It IS about the game to replicate the kitchen with similiar materials and get the look for a SLIVER of the price Mr. Cheater paid. It is SOOOOO much fun to save your money and produce a quality room for little money. I think it is by far my favorite past time! LOVE, love to do this kind of stuff!!! The point is no matter what you have to spend, you didn't!!!! It is a game! Good luck!

  • Hattie Crabtree

    This is like the shows on HGTV.They never show the homes that are cheaper etc.The worse one is " Bang for your Buck,its flaunts the rich and their homes.They used to have shows that focused on smaller cheaper homes and how to do repairs.I liked those shows.The ones now just flaunt the $$.

  • 39 Comments / 2 Pages

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