Last year my son and I visited the National Gallery of Art together. It was one of those proud parenting moments when he walked up to a Van Gogh and asked, “Is that a real Van Gogh…I want to touch it!” I believe that’s how most of us feel when we stand in front of an original masterpiece for the first time; it is an awakening to authenticity. Like live theater, performance or music, reproduction never replaces experience.I’ve found the same to be true when it comes to homes. The internet is swarming with photographs of beautiful homes (I myself being on a mission to add some of Yalecrest’s own to this trove). Yet the more I see, the more I realize how deceptive home photography can be. Homes can be as doctored and photoshopped as celebrity magazine covers. One of the hardest things to convey in an interior photograph is quality and craftsmanship. A head-over-heels gorgeous Instagram kitchen may look less-than admirable in person while a spectacularly crafted kitchen with all the well-thought details of fine hardware, cabinetry and construction never gets fully represented in a photograph.
An example of the latter is the stunning new kitchen of Susan and Keven Rowe. You may remember we devoted an article to the family’s not-so-traditional holiday traditions and decor last month. Our original plan was to include the kitchen in the December article but it quickly became apparent that it needed its own space to shine.And shine it does! The creamy off-white cabinetry and walnut wood island have the intentional look and feel of fine furniture. In fact, with enough strong arms the custom center island could be lifted up and moved like an oversized dining room table. And it’s not just the cabinetry that exudes quality, but fine details like the Ikat-backed, brass-tacked dining chairs and the sea-green leather island chairs that are luxurious without being overdone. The same can be said for the milky-gold granite complimented by antique-brass hardware and lighting; the two well-hidden symmetrically mirrored Sub Zero refrigerators on both sides of the sink; and the tasteful pewter-framed glass cabinet fronts.
Part of this kitchen renovation success stems from the Rowe’s taking their kitchen remodel slowly. When they bought the house over twenty years ago, they inherited a monster beam that ran the width of the house and dropped the kitchen ceiling 6”. Along with the dropped ceiling came an off-center window and what Susan describes as a, “rather tight and dark” kitchen space. For years they wanted to open the space up but knew it would take a monumental effort and a great deal of disruption to remove the beam and make the structural changes they wanted. Even after the kitchen plans were drawn, they let them mull for three years before finally pulling the trigger and moving forward.
When Susan and Keven were ready to face the imminent disruption of their lives, they braced for the total deconstruction of their main floor. To remove the above-mentioned beam, the side of the house had to be blown out and two walls built, the side of the house then rebuilt and walls taken back down. To both Keven and Susan’s pleasant surprise, the total construction of the kitchen was completed in just 8 weeks. Susan gives credit to Juab Construction and Forever Furniture (cabinet design) for their efficiency and quality work, but she also admits that as an assistant at Doran Taylor, she had quite a bit of time to pick out exactly what she wanted in her kitchen. “When you have plans sitting around for three years and you work for a design firm,” she jokes, “you have a lot of time to think through what you want.”
When asked if she and Keven made any big changes during the three years their kitchen plans stewed, she answers just one, “Against Doran’s advisement we added a built-in television to the west side of the cabinetry. I know it’s not the most elegant treatment for the area, but form does follow function. We love to sit, just Keven and I, at our apron bar and watch a game. And when the kids and grandkids come over, everyone loves to be together working and eating in the kitchen with a game or a show on. It, along with my unobstructed island where I can craft and lay out quilts, are my two favorite features of the kitchen.”Agreed. It is a spectacular island and spectacular kitchen. Thank you Susan and Keven for inviting us in and sharing your renovation masterpiece with us!
Design: Doran TaylorCabinets: Forever FurnitureContractor: Juab Construction