Gather around the table in three distinct kitchens where, with equal parts vision, patience, persistence and ingenuity, the respective homeowners took the proverbial heart of their home -- and made it the undeniable soul of their home, too.
Catherine and Nick Balding
Just paces from their boat dock on Bradley Creek, Nick and Catherine Baldings 1950s house became a labor of love. The young couple bought the dated ranch-style home two years ago and worked to renovate it every weekend -- plus some nights -- for eight months leading up to the week before their late-summer wedding.
Yes, we planned a wedding and rebuilt a house all at the same time, says Catherine, laughing. But it was fun. And a good time in our lives to do it. No kids, no pets. Why not?
Eyeing the house off Greenville Loop Road for more than six months, Nick had the initial vision for the couples first home.
It is interesting to see what you can do in a brick ranch. Most of the time, ranches are not very inviting to live in. But changes can make such a big difference in how you live, Nick says.
One change high on the redesign list was an open and more contemporary kitchen. Hidden behind a load-bearing wall and isolated from the living area, the original knotty-pine-paneled kitchen was small and dark and offered minimal floor space.
As soon as we walked in, we looked at each other and said, Those walls are going, Catherine says, pointing to the central area of the home, the prep/eating island. What survived the cut were original cabinets, newly resurfaced and repainted. Additional cabinets were made to look old in keeping with the ranchs mid-century style. The couple also chose new butcher-block countertops, complementing the farmhouse sink that Catherine explains, We held onto for a while, and which was the impetus for the overall style.
Now two years after their whirlwind romance, the couple couldnt be more pleased with the outcome of their vision. A mix of modern eclecticism, with a nod to the cottage-like style of country farm homes, the kitchen is now the hub for cooking and entertaining.
Both gardeners -- he, vegetables; and she, flowers -- the couple finds that home cooking and entertaining are more easily enjoyed by a greater number of friends and family.
We love to have friends over -- and the kitchen has definitely made me a better cook, Catherine says. We now are able to have a lot of people in the same area and the conversation stays fun and inclusive. Except you are in trouble if you dont like the conversation!
Kate and Joel Tomaselli
Honestly, if were home and were awake, we are in here. Thats pretty much the bottom line, says Kate Tomaselli, laughing, as she stands in the kitchen of her home off Airlie Road. Its a working kitchen -- what can I say?
The 17-year-old house built by Kate and her husband, Joel, is home to the Tomasellis and their two young-adult children. It is also sanctuary to four dogs, two cats, and a number of backyard bees and their hives. In the past, Kate has fostered dogs and laughs that raising chickens could be in her future. The kitchen has been at the heart of it all.
Its been an evolutionary thing, Kate says when speaking of her kitchen and the changing lifestyles it has catered to over the years. When we first moved in, we had a 1-year-old and a 5-year-old. Now we have an 18-year-old and a 22-year-old. After you live in a house for a few years, you figure out more about how you are going to use it. How it works more practically.
A few years ago, Kate considered the homes original floorplan and layout and decided they were not practical for the evolving family, so she looked at renovation options. The kitchen was front-and-center in her redesign plans. The original space had been functional and typical of a lot of kitchens -- with a cooking area, an island and a dining table in close proximity.
Here in the kitchen was where everyone wanted to hang out, Kate says. The kids wanted to do homework in here while I was cooking dinner. Everyone wanted to watch TV in here. No one ever used our living room. I probably redecorated that room five times to make it more inviting. Basically, there was just a lot of wasted space.
After the redesign process and one and one-half years of reconfiguring the floorplan, under-utilized space is no longer an issue. The living room became the master suite. What once served as a den is the formal dining room. And the kitchen, with a few necessary architectural and structural changes, is now part keeping room, too. The result is exactly what Kate envisioned. From hosting wine-and-dine book clubs, to cooking hearty breakfasts for a dozen hungry soccer players, to sharing family mealtimes together -- to even extracting and jarring 12 gallons of honey on a summers day -- the kitchen is the go-to gathering spot for the familys everyday lifestyle.
I absolutely love it, says Kate, while standing in the middle of the kitchen. I love the more rustic, warm look of the butcher block countertop. I love the addition of the banquette. I love my open cabinets. But if I had to say what I love most -- what I absolutely could not live without -- it would be that the working part of the kitchen is now the living part, also.
Teresa Hill and Kent Blossom
Meet Teresa Hill and Kent Blossom in their traditional brick home on Wayne Drive near the tree-lined Forest Hills neighborhood. For them, the seed for the renovation of their existing, south-facing kitchen was planted years ago.
From the moment I walked in this house and saw the backyard I knew we would extend the kitchen and living area at some point, Teresa says. I didnt think, however, it would take 16 years!
Completed last May, the new and improved kitchen/keeping room was well worth the wait. In retrospect, Teresa, a Realtor, says she naturally walks through a house with the mindset of how the homes footprint and flow of family life can be improved -- and her assessment of her familys current home was no different when she made her initial walk-through.
I immediately had ideas of ways I could expand our home off the back, but a lot of those earlier ideas changed after living here a number of years and after our children got older, she explains.
While the homes kitchen and informal dining area was an efficient one -- and for years dutifully served the family of four -- the space essentially lacked the overall livability, function and aesthetics desired for the couples lifestyle.
Kent really got into gourmet cooking a couple of years ago. We have a number of raised beds in our backyard for growing various herbs, cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers, and so the focus of the renovation became much more about the working kitchen than originally planned. He needed space for pots and pans -- and the ease of getting to them. And an oversized island was a must, Teresa says. One of my biggest desires was to see everything I owned. I had pretty dishes crammed in the bottom of cabinets, and wondered, Why have beautiful things, just to have them hidden away? I wanted space, and a lot of glass cabinetry.
With these initial ideas in mind, the couple collaborated with local architect Tilghman Herring, builder Bryan Humphrey and interior design consultant Susan Covington to help turn years of dreams into reality. Today, the kitchen, originally known more for its efficiency than its sufficiency, has been transformed. Expanding the entire width of the home, the new addition blends seamlessly and adds a fresh flavor to the older home.
I love the character, the richness and sustenance of an older home like ours, Teresa says, but I wanted this new space to be light and bright. I never had white paint, but I knew this room had to have it. I really like how now, from the front door, you walk into formal, a little less formal, and then onto our back porch, in essence.
Hill says marrying the old with the new was one of the fun aspects of the process, explaining, The thing about an old house and taking whats already there, and working with it, is that you always get something unique in the end.
Hill wishes she could say what she loves best about her new kitchen. From the open storage, to work spaces, to the cooking area, to the eclectic sitting room -- she says without hesitation, I love it all. I have no regrets. Patience can be a good thing.
Resources Creating this Home of Distinction
The Balding Kitchen
Nick and Catherine Balding
Nick Balding, Balding Brothers
Lumber Liquidators/Balding Brothers
Ferguson Enterprises, Inc.
Plumber Medic, Inc.
Meade Electric Company, Inc.
Wood Floor Restoration
Intercoastal Hardwood Floors, Inc.
Southeastern Tile Connection, Inc.
Dining Table - Pier One
The Tomaselli Kitchen
Joel and Kate Tomaselli
Gaines and Associates Builders, Inc.
Jennifer Smith Designs
Julie Bray, Luxe Home Interiors
Holly Hanna, Hollingsworth Cabinetry
Atlantic Appliance & Hardware -
Wolf Range, Sub Zero Refrigerator
Cabinets, Heart Pine Island and Banquette
Rick Bush, Cabinet Designer
Southside Tile and Stone
Shaw Farm Sink and Chandelier
Ferguson Enterprises, Inc.
Greg Nichols, Delmar Fine Finishes
Pedestal table, French country rush bottom chairs, pendant lights - Paysage
Framed oyster shell paintings, table linens - Nest Fine Gifts and Interiors
The Hill-Blossom Kitchen
Kent Blossom and Teresa Hill
Tilghman Herring, Hood-Herring Architecture, PLLP
Bryan Humphrey Design & Construction
Susan Covington, SAC Art
Atlantic Appliance & Hardware
New Leaf Builders
Steve Collins, Collins Plumbing
Ferguson Enterprises, Inc.
C.W. Harrelson Electric
Southeastern Tile Connection, Inc.
Skip Henson Paint Center
Downeast Heating and Air Conditioning
Barstools - Maran Home