Fifth Annual Kitchens That Cook

BY Bill Walsh

Home is where the heart is and our hearts are in the kitchen. Whether it’s a gourmet dinner for 10 a rendezvous for two a quick lunch for the kids or a great family gala we’re spending more of our lives in the kitchen than ever before. It’s no wonder then that we want them to be smarter prettier and even more efficient. See how these five spectacular kitchens were built to do more than just meet the needs of the families who helped design them.

The French Connection

“I feel like I’m in France ” a recent guest told hosts Deborah and Hank Phillips. “The only thing you’re missing is chickens running around the yard.”

Much as that might delight their Landfall neighbors the Phillips aren’t so inclined even though they have made excellent use of chicken wire in their earthy French-country display cabinets which show off their collection of Japanese American and French pottery.

“We wanted it to look old ” Hank says “so Debbie chose a lot of textures and paint colors to make that happen.”

The kitchen is a study in rich shades of buttercream coffee-glazed wheat burnished cherry maple wood and limestone. “I wanted everything to be very neutral ” Deborah says. “Then you can add lots of … anything.” And indeed they have — beautiful pottery and paintings are perfectly placed throughout the space. “The French collect things ” Deborah adds. “This house is not decorated. It’s just a collection of things we like.”

The kitchen’s focal point is a French limestone range hood with a bronze relief backsplash but the centerpiece is a rustic 9-foot island hewn from a cherry base with a chestnut glaze and a raw maple butcher-block top. The farm sink is carved from Italian marble and features an oil-rubbed bronze gooseneck faucet. From the knotty wormwood cabinets to the oak floor boards setting foot into the Phillips’ kitchen is like taking a trip back to the Old Country.

The modern appliances provide state-of-the-art convenience and blend seamlessly into the façade — a microwave is hidden under the island the GE Monogram fridge sits behind a rustic wooden door the Swedish Asko dishwasher barely whispers and the Thermador gas range includes a convection oven that cooks everything to perfection. Countertops are ogee-edged granite and the limestone tile backsplash is laid in a harlequin pattern.

“Our ancestors were French ” Hank says adding that he was born on July 14 — Bastille Day — and that he spent four years in France with Procter & Gamble prior to his retirement. “Debbie’s family came from Normandy and I have cousins who still live in the Burgundy region. Part of the inspiration for this house this kitchen came from a family place in France. It was a big old farmhouse and everything was built around a courtyard. We wanted something with a courtyard and something open.”

How they achieved their desire was through an open floorplan that supports the kitchen at the center with adjoining living and sitting areas. Finish elements like a limestone hearth in the living room and a chestnut mantel in the den tie the kitchen to the rest of the house.

Hank loves to cook — French what else? — and appreciates the kitchen’s functionality. “It is large and there is plenty of storage space for everything ” he says. “It is very accessible. A great place for entertaining.”

The home was finished in January 2006 and Deborah says she likes the openness of the kitchen — the openness of the whole house for that matter. “We had never lived in a house where you can see all these rooms together ” Deborah mused. “How do you combine them? By putting the kitchen practically in the living room. That was a concern of mine — to make it look presentable.”

The Phillips’ kitchen is sophisticated and modern but bends over backwards to be friendly while exuding old-world charm down to the family’s French chartreux cats Max and Smokey who seem “purrfectly” content in their element.

Contractor: J. E. Evans Construction Inc.

Interior Design: Deborah Phillips Owner

Kitchen Design: Deborah Phillips Owner

Cabinetry: Noles Cabinets

Countertops: Architectural Elements J Thompson Tops

Wood Flooring: Horizon Forest Products Sandy’s Floor Service

Appliances: Atlantic Appliance & Hardware IIsland Appliance

Flooring/Tile: Tuscany Tile & Design

Lighting: Butler’s Electric

Faucets/Hardware: Bird Decorative Hardware & Bath

Painting: Keystone Painting And Drywall

Hood: Stone Age Designs

Farmhouse Sink: Tuscany Tile & Design

Decorative Bronze Piece Under Hood: Tuscany Tile & Design

Antique Inspiration

Nancy and Shawn Foster knew better than most couples what they wanted in a kitchen when they built a new home overlooking Futch Creek. “We really enjoy cooking here ” Shawn says.

He is the president and CEO of Foster’s Franchise Concepts parent company of a string of Foster’s Grills with locations in Maryland Virginia North Carolina Georgia Florida and Missouri. “My wife is the other end of the program ” he says. “She’s more the Southern-style good old-fashioned home-cooked meals.

The kitchen concept began to take shape with the purchase of an antique mill table out of a closing Dalton china factory in Charleston. That table became the kitchen’s island centerpiece and with the respectability of old age it anchors modern conveniences of every description — from coffee makers to steam and speed ovens. But the eye is perhaps equally drawn to the stove — surrounded by a built-in mantelpiece the eight-burner gas treasure would be at home in any commercial kitchen.

“In our previous home we had a six-burner flattop ” Nancy says. “We hated it. I wanted the flattop and he told me I would end up hating it.” Everything settles on the surface she explains; they’re too hard to keep clean.

Both like the look of the glass-front Sub-Zero refrigerator though Nancy has to work at keeping it neat while Shawn misses the inside-the-door storage. “I never thought about that before.”

More people are into cooking these days Nancy says in part because equipment of an industrial size and strength has made it into the home. “Everybody’s a chef at home now especially men. It’s kind of neat how it has gotten so popular ” she says.

A wooden countertop houses an inset sink on one side of the kitchen and works well for preparing food; a wipe of the counter pushes everything into the sink for easy cleanup. The trash can sits in the cabinet directly underneath. “With a chef’s background I don’t want to move a lot of stuff around. I just want to go in and do it ” Shawn says. “Everything is within reach.”

“Then again it is wide enough so that we are not tripping over each other if we are both in here ” Nancy adds.

Cabinets are white offset by black-stained wood floors. “It’s a change it’s nice ” Shawn says of the floor. “The black shows all the dust and is a little harder to keep clean but it’s a nice break from our other house ” in Haymarket Virginia corporate headquarters for the family business.

The highest compliment they have gotten about their kitchen Shawn and Nancy agree has come from several people who have visited and asked whether it’s new or a remodel of a much older home.

Contractor: Dennis Moeller Custom Homes

Cabinetry: Hollingsworth Cabinetry

Countertops: Southeastern Marble and Granite

Wood Flooring: Ed Newsome’s Hardwood Floor Service

Wood Floor Finishing: Sandy’s Floor Service

Appliances: Atlantic Appliance & Hardware

Flooring/Tile: Trevi Tile Installation

Lighting: Coastal Lighting Supply Company Circa Lighting Nostaliga Peyton’s Place

Faucets/Hardware: Ferguson Enterprises Atlantic Appliance & Hardware
Wrightsville Beach Plumbing

Painting: Ryan Kerlin Painting

Kitchen Furniture: Paysage

Personal Touch

Annette Anderson enjoys the best of both worlds in her Figure Eight Island kitchen.

This is the first house that she and her husband Fred have lived in where she actually had some input into the design Annette says. “In our first house an architect had done it but it was already well underway and I didn’t have much say. Besides that I was young and didn’t really know what I wanted. Every other house was previously owned. This was the first one I really got to think through.”

When the Andersons decided to build this home several years ago they invited Wilmington architects from Cline Design to visit their then-second home in Naples Florida. Annette took them through room by room explaining what she liked and didn’t.

On Figure Eight she wanted a kitchen a little on the smallish side relative to the house size but one that fulfilled both her aesthetic requirements: that the space be elegant but functional. The Andersons entertain often and frequently have large numbers of guests. “The Naples kitchen was even smaller ” Annette says “but it was very functional. It just worked.”

One thing that irked her in Naples was the stationary island. “If you had several people in the kitchen … they are all stumbling around each other trying to get around the island. I thought I’d love to have the island but I want it out of the way when I want it out of the way ” Annette says steering the granite-topped convenience into the adjacent pantry. “It’s a neat thing.”

That’s not the kitchen’s only unique feature. Pull-out spice racks are built into one side of the oven surround racks for oils and baking supplies into the other. There is a standard-size dishwasher and a much smaller model hidden behind a cabinet facade for when the couple is home alone. Like other kitchens featured here Annette’s kitchen has a wood floor. “I had a tile floor in Naples ” she recounts “and it is so hard on you if you are standing up cooking for a few hours. I have a hardwood floor in our home in Raleigh and I wouldn’t have anything else.”

“I like the old look ” she says — but that attraction has its limits. She decided her cabinets would forego the distressed look that has become so popular. “Partly because of the beach I just like the bright white feeling and the contrast with the outdoors the blue sky. … I have the same thing in Raleigh and these two kitchens are not going to go out of style. You’re not going to walk in this house I hope in 10 years and say ‘gosh this house was built in 2005 ” aged by the kitchen cabinets.

“I put so much thought into this house ” Annette muses and there is very little she would do differently if she had the opportunity to start anew. “I’ve been very content with this the way it is.”

Architect: Cline Design Associates P.A.

Builder: Telesis Ventures

Interior Design: Noland Interiors

Cabinetry: Coastal Cabinets

Countertops: Coastal Cabinets

Kitchen Designer: Cline Design Associates P.A.

Appliances: Atlantic Appliance and Hardware

Wood Flooring: D’s Hardwood Floors

Tile: Sellers Tile Co Inc. and Custom Counters

Media/Security: A Wolf Company Inc. Electronics2You

Lighting: Holliday Electric
Noland Interiors

Plumbing: Kelly Plumbing

Faucets: Ferguson Enterprises

Painting: Spectrum Painting

Window Treatments  and Fabrics: Noland Interiors

The Open Sea

After 13 years in a more  traditional home in Landfall Mary Beth Cowper loves the openness of her kitchen in the new home she and her husband Lee built off Greenville Loop Road.

“We wanted to have this open feeling ” she says standing beneath the high ceilings of an expansive kitchen that blends into a formal dining area and great room. Large windows on the opposite wall provide an unencumbered view of Hewletts Creek view from the 12 1/2-foot island where Mary Beth preps cooks and cleans up.

“In our old home the kitchen was separated from the dining room and the dining room was separated from the great room. Typically in the past when we had guests everyone would congregate in the kitchen and that’s true here too. But they are more apt to mingle in other parts of the house ” she says.

Rectangular on three sides it is arched on the four-seat final side. The shape allows conversational eye contact without the neck strain that a linear arrangement would impose. So heavy is the granite overhang it is supported by a cleverly designed steel brace.

A tile relief backsplash above the stove was designed by Lee. “My husband drew that out on a piece of paper ” Mary Beth says. “He is really good at perceiving things and seeing exactly how things are going to fit.”

A walk-in butler’s pantry behind the stove includes a wine rack built-in desk countertops and a second sink where large cookware might be soaked out of sight. Food staples are stored in a second pantry off the entrance hall.

For their cabinets the Cowpers chose a slightly distressed cream finish accented by a blue wall beneath cedar ceilings over heart pine floors. “These boards actually came out of an old textile mill in South Carolina ” Mary Beth says. Wood in the kitchen is not a problem and she cleans the floor with just plain water. “This wood is softer than your ‘normal’ wood ” she muses. “And if you drop something on it you have an instant dent. That just gives it more character ” she adds with a laugh.

Ultimately it all comes down to function. The Cowpers entertain frequently — once or twice a month by Mary Beth’s estimation — and the kitchen is easy to use right down to the built-in spice and oil drawers adjacent to the stove. These drawers like all the others in the kitchen are self-closing.

She does the cooking Mary Beth says but claims no particular specialty. “I like a lot of pasta dishes chicken dishes different kinds of salads. I’m not good at seafood ” she says reserving those entrees for her husband not guests.

Building Contractor: Lee F. Cowper Inc.

Architect: Kevin Pfirman

Interior Design: Village Design Group of Southern Pines — Pam Hill

Faucet/Plumbing  Hardware: Ferguson Enterprises

Plumbing: Precision Plumbing Contracting Inc.

Electric: Seaport Electric Company

Wood Flooring: Cape Fear Riverwood

Countertops: Cape Fear Marble & Tile

Painting: Derrick Barton

Cabinets: Custom Wood Products Inc.

Carpentry: Trim James Topping

Appliances/Interior Hardware: Atlantic Appliance & Hardware

Tile: In Line Marble and Tile

Lighting: Coastal Lighting Supply Company

Carpet: Sutton’s Rugs & Carpets

Interior Millwork: Stephenson Millwork Company Inc.

Window Treatment: Wilmington Blind Shutter and Closet

The Island Mentality

Islands surface in many coastal kitchens. Ned Leary and Blake Jacobs considered one for the condominium kitchen they were remodeling at Wrightsville Dunes but decided against it.

Size played a bit part; the kitchen is comfortable and Blake says a surprising number of guests can mingle comfortably within its three walls. But this is a condo after all even if it is a double unit twice as big as others in their building. She prefers galley-style kitchens under any circumstance and besides a central island would disrupt the chef’s rhythm — four steps away from stove to the sink from the sink to the icebox from the icebox to the cooktop.

“The kitchen was completely closed in ” Blake says. “You would walk in and you felt like you were in a cave.” In another Wrightsville Dunes condo that Ned owned when he purchased this one there was an ocean view from the stovetop. “I was really missing that other kitchen and we decided that we really had to open this up ” Blake says. “We took the wall out and moved the stove. We wanted it to feel like you could sit here and entertain and cook.”

Blake who has formal culinary training does most of the cooking. Ned says he does most of the eating. Blake keeps the pantry filled with tomato paste and pasta for the Italian dishes that often grace the round dining table custom made from 300-year-old wood from Edenton where Ned was raised.

The cuisine inspired one of the kitchen’s unique features a pot-filler. Plumbed into the stovetop backsplash the retractable faucet allows the cook to fill large pasta pots with water without lifting and carrying them — four steps not-withstanding — from the sink to the stove. The couple also installed a double oven with a warming drawer.

Blake and Ned chose granite for the countertops a complementary glass tile for the walls and red birch for the floor. Bright white cabinets stretch to the ceiling and contribute to the airiness and openness of the new space.

“It was a great transformation ” says interior designer Suzanne Reid of T. Williamson Interiors. “I just love renovation projects — being able to look at what was here and know that we are able to make huge changes. It was so 80s ” she says of the original kitchen. “Now you walk in and all you can think is ‘new millennium.’”

Building Contractor: Telesis Ventures

Kitchen Design: Melinda Rider Design Services

Interior Design: Suzanne Reid at T. Williamson Interiors

Audio/Visual: Electronics2You

Plumbing Fixtures: Ferguson Enterprises

Plumbing: Kelly Plumbing

Lighting: Ferguson Enterprises

Electrician: Holliday Electric

Tile Installation: Versatile of Wilmington

Tile: Southeastern Tile Connection

Granite Counters: Sellers Tile & Custom Countertop

Painting: Ocean Painting of Wilmington

Wood Flooring: Ed Newsome’s Hardwood Floor Service

Cabinetry: MarKraft and Coastal Cabinets

Cabinet Hardware: Atlantic Appliance & Hardware

Appliances: Atlantic Appliance & Hardware

Barstools/Chairs: T. Williamson Interiors

Pleated Shades: T. Williamson Interiors

Custom Dining Table: Martin Custom Woodworking and
Antique Restoration

Dining Light Fixtures: T. Williamson Interiors