A second renovation
A kitchen evolves as the homeowners' family has grown, better accommodating a dozen or more people involved in their larger gatherings.
A tiny door was installed in this kitchen's backsplash so that small appliances can be easily pulled out of the pantry. Photo by Todd Yarrington.
Twenty years ago when these Upper Arlington homeowners purchased their traditional house, they did not know that they were embarking on an evolution.
A cosmetic renovation of Debbie and Ron Brooks’s small, dark kitchen occurred a few years later. Dark cabinetry was replaced with a lighter selection, and brown- and cream-colored tiles were installed in place of a hardwood floor. The room’s footprint stayed in place and few structural changes were made.
Then, the couple’s children grew up, married and began having children of their own. Holiday gatherings expanded beyond the original family of six to now include nearly 15 at times. As is the case with most families, a small kitchen becomes a gathering place that refuses to expand with the size of the brood.
Although the Brookses also spend time at their homes in Florida and Michigan, another evolution was about to occur in Ohio. “Should we really do it?” Debbie says she and her husband discussed. The homeowners had previously worked with Behal Sampson Dietz on other parts of the home and eventually called in architect John Behal for a consultation. “We have a good time, and then all of the sudden we’re building,” Debbie says of their relationship with the architects. This time, though, the kitchen was about to become very different. Walls would come down and space that was previously a screen porch would be absorbed as part of the room.
In the end, the kitchen nearly doubled in size, incorporating top-of-the-line appliances, a spacious center island and an intimate dining space that would accommodate the growing family. Today, when the 1-year-old twin grandsons show up, they can toddle around a space that doesn’t involve hot burners and scorching ovens.
During the design process, the formerly flat roof over the kitchen was peaked to create more exterior interest at the rear of the house. Indoors, skylights and plenty of windows lighten the space. “It makes it feel like it’s the heart of the home,” explains Behal. “This is the ultimate gathering space.”
And even when the family isn’t visiting, Debbie Brooks says that she and her husband spend 80 percent of their time in this space, with its warm, stone fireplace at one corner anchoring a long counter that links with an angular cooking area. A Wolf four-burner stove complete with grill, griddle and oven is situated here.
Hanging cabinets along this wall sport a French glass available locally at Franklin Art Glass Studios. A plate rack also was added for interest in the expanse of the Mock cabinetry along the upper wall.
“I wanted a pantry,” Debbie explains, opening a door near the stove to reveal a walk-in closet well organized with plenty of shelving. A surprise in the design, a section of the kitchen’s backsplash pops open to allow access to countertop appliances that are conveniently stored inside the pantry, too.
This was no normal feat, explains Behal, demonstrating how the door was cut into the wall still accommodating the crinkled white tiles that cover the backsplash. The hinges were the trickiest part, he adds, pointing out the thickness of the tile’s border, which also adorns the door. A second such opening is hidden at the opposite end of this counter past the clean-up area and near the fireplace. Fisher & Paykel dishwashing drawers are installed along this exterior wall, as is a wine cooler.
The center island hosts a utility sink and, underneath, freezer drawers provide the kitchen’s only frozen storage. A large, glass-fronted Sub-Zero refrigerator is situated at the wall, near the GE Profile microwave. A shelf slides out just below the microwave so that hot dishes can be removed and stirred.
Four bar stools line up along the granite-topped island, with additional storage underneath. “We used every bit of storage space possible,” says Debbie.
A round table is placed in the newest section of the kitchen, easily accommodating a party of eight. Nearby, a hickory mantel was added to the fireplace, and wrought-iron bolts were fabricated to attach it. Flooring throughout the space is Jerusalem stone and Oriental area rugs also are used.
On the interior wall of the room, a large desk and an armoire were created by Mike and Emily Kincaid of American Artisans Woodworking of Mount Vernon to fill large spaces and provide additional accommodations. “We wanted them to look like pieces of furniture,” says Debbie, explaining the use of two cabinet makers on the project.
The newfound enormity of the room struck Debbie as she viewed many oversized items during the selection process. For example, the iron chandelier looming overhead was selected specifically for the large open space. And the crackle-finish and beveled subway tile just can’t be used in small spaces, explains Behal. “A lot of kitchens can’t handle it,” he says. “It makes it look very gutsy.”
Sherry Beck Paprocki is the editor of Columbus Monthly Homes.