PA magazine, September 2004
in part to reality television, food and the people who make it
have burst into the pop-culture stratosphere in the past few years.
Celebrity chefs, such as Emeril Lagasse, Jamie Oliver, Nigella
Lawson and Rocco DiSpirito have given gourmand voyeurs the opportunity
to watch them at work, whipping up everything from delicate foie
gras to hearty meatballs.
what happens when these chefs hang up their aprons and head home?
More importantly, what do their own kitchens look like? Two local
restaurateur couples -- Terry and Patty Lee, owners of Haydn Zug's
in East Petersburg, and Russ and Susie Freeman, owners of Café
on Market in Camp Hill -- have created kitchens in their homes
inspired by a love of cooking and a desire to make food a centerpiece
for great times with friends and family.
OPEN AND MODERN
and Patty Lee moved into their Wrightsville home just over two
years ago. You could say that "two" is the couple's favorite number.
Their kitchen has a pair of most everything -- two refrigerators,
two sinks, two ovens, two warming drawers, even two coffeemakers
("My wife drinks decaf," Terry says). Soon they will add a second
dishwasher. "That's the restaurant influence," Terry explains.
"You need backups on everything."
12 years, the Lees lived above their restaurant in a 600-square-foot
converted dining room. When the right time finally came to build
their own house, they wanted something spacious. Terry and Patty,
who have no children, were able to design their dream house exactly
the way they wanted it. The most attention -- and space -- was
devoted to the kitchen. Their kitchen, at approximately 1,500
square feet, equals half of their house.
built a kitchen, then added a little bit of house around it,"
of the Lee home, which overlooks the Susquehanna River, is one
large kitchen-dining-living area. They wanted lots of open space
and an easy flow, free of walls or any other obstructions. They
even installed a side venting system in the stove, which is in
the center of the kitchen, so an overhead hood wouldn't break
up the lines. Aisles separate the various stations in the kitchen,
and are wide enough to pass through even if an oven door is open.
A walk-in pantry boasts a separate wine refrigerator and a built-in
steamer and deep-fryer. An outdoor grilling area on one of two
porches faces the river and is only a few feet off the kitchen.
Guests may eat in the dining area, at the bar at the end of one
of the counters, in the breakfast nook or outdoors on one of the
Lees claim the most important aspect of building or renovating
is research, and no detail was left to chance. They positioned
one of the sinks to face outdoors so Patty could look out at the
river while washing dishes. The butcher-block countertops were
chosen for their utility, aesthetic appeal and durability. Four
sets of overhead tech lighting and pink neon in frosted glass
under the bar allow the Lees to control the level of brightness
in their kitchen and set a particular "mood" for a dinner party
or other gathering. The project began as a rough sketch designed
by Terry and Patty, and was later finessed by a builder and finally
by Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry in Lancaster. Plain &
Fancy created custom cherry-and-maple cabinets for the couple
and helped them create their kitchen. The process, from conception
to completion, took a long time, but Terry and Patty built the
kitchen they had always wanted -- and a house to go with it.
the steely glint of the industrial appliances, the Lee kitchen
is anything but sterile. Patty wanted their home to be a "get-comfy,
laidback house," and every corner is welcoming and vibrant --
even quirky. A life-size Betty Boop posing on top of a shelf lords
over a corner of the kitchen. Colorful glassware and family photographs
line the shelves of a floor-to-ceiling glass case. A scrap-metal
dog sculpture props open the door to one of the porches. Walls
are painted shades of red, taupe and yellow, and the chairs around
and the lights above the bar are mismatched. While they are particular
about quality, the Lees lack fussiness about other elements. Their
easygoing attitude and sense of humor instantly put guests at
ease -- a key to successful entertaining.
Lees concede that theirs is not the average home kitchen, in terms
of space or design. In fact, until major renovations at Haydn
Zug's less than a year ago, their kitchen at home was bigger and
more efficient than the restaurant's kitchen. But in the two years
since they built it, their home has become the main gathering
place for their family -- most of which lives in the York area.
And, as in most homes, the kitchen is the center of activity.
the family gets together, there are about 20 of us," Patty says.
"Anywhere we are, everybody always hangs out in the kitchen. We
wanted one that was big enough."
adds, "We set it up so everybody could be together at the same
Freeman, co-owner of Camp Hill's Café on Market with his
wife Susie, proudly refers to his new stove as "the Cadillac"
of his kitchen.
pride and joy is this stove," he says, pointing out the gas griddle,
char-broiler and four burners. "We redesigned the kitchen around
Freeman kitchen could not be more different from the Lee kitchen.
The Freemans and their three children (Ariana, 10; Austin, 6;
and Sophie, 5) reside in an 18th-century stone farmhouse in Mechanicsburg.
While the Lee kitchen is modern, with bright colors and a ton
of open space, the Freeman kitchen is much smaller and has a more
down-home feel. It's the kind of kitchen that feels warm and cozy
all the time.
one thing that connects the two kitchens is family. The children's
presence in the Freeman home is everywhere. Bikes are piled up
in a corner of the driveway. Crayon-scribbled pictures are tacked
to a bulletin board. Tiny pairs of shoes dot a mat inside the
door. A highchair is pulled up close to the large wooden kitchen
table where Russ Freeman sits, recalling the start of the kitchen's
renovation a year and a half ago. What started as a conversation
about a coat of paint snowballed into a major overhaul.
I was just sitting here at the kitchen table thinking, 'Hey, we
need to paint these walls,'" Russ says. "It was all wood and so
dark. It was like living in a cave."
Freeman kitchen now has new appliances, new lighting, new countertops,
new curtains -- even a movable island that can be pushed aside
to moonlight as a buffet when company visits. (And those walls
have been painted a pleasing shade of pale yellow.) Like Terry
and Patty Lee, Russ and Susie Freeman's experience in the restaurant
business is evident in the stainless-steel industrial appliances,
heavy-duty pots and pans, and formidable collection of utensils
and knives. But it was most important to them that they design
a more homey, family-oriented kitchen. They don't do frequent,
large-scale gatherings like the Lees, so their needs are different.
for us is another couple coming over with their kids and having
a couple of beers in the yard," Russ deadpans.
of the changes to the kitchen were made with Susie's baking in
mind. Their kitchen doubles as a mini-bakery where Susie bakes
many of the desserts served at Café on Market. One section
of counter was widened to make more room for rolling dough. A
small microwave oven below the counter allows Susie to melt butter
easily. But the kid-height microwave hasn't been without its problems,
Russ says, shaking his head. "It's great, but it's been a challenge,
like when one of [the kids] puts a piece of chicken in and sets
it to 45 minutes."
space allows for more cooks in the kitchen as well. The Freeman
children love to help their mom with the baking, and enjoy taking
trips to local orchards and farm stands to pick fresh produce
and fruit for pies -- or just to the berry patch in their backyard.
Indeed, the children were a huge consideration in the decisions
Russ and Susie made in their renovation process. The commercial
electric oven, for instance, had to be large enough and accurately
calibrated for baking, but also needed to be safe for the kids.
Russ and Susie chose a commercial model specifically for residential
use, as it was better insulated. "It doesn't get quite as hot
as strict commercial ones," Russ says. "That way if a kid brushes
up against the door, he won't burn himself."
Terry and Patty Lee, Russ Freeman cites research as the most important
part of the renovation process. First, he says, decide what you
don't like about your kitchen and why, then decide what you'd
like as replacements for those elements. After that, research
everything: manufacturers, contractors, designers, prices, sizes.
He recommends finding a contractor or interior designer who uses
computer software that simulates what the room will eventually
look like, as it's much easier to make changes when you can actually
see it. Think about how you'd like a room to "feel," and how you'll
be using it. Choose a design that is as functional as it is aesthetically
pleasing. As Russ says of his own kitchen, "Everything had to
be livable and workable."
THE AUTHOR Stephanie Anderson has been published in Central
PA, Susquehanna Style, Pittsburgh magazine, Rapportage and Rain
Taxi. She is teaching creative-writing classes and pursuing a
master's of fine arts in nonfiction writing.
Renovation & Design Tips
time planning and thinking ahead about how you use your space.
Everyone wants a beautiful kitchen, but functionality is an absolute
must in this area of the home. Observe how your family uses the
kitchen during a period of weeks. Do you really need that new
Viking range, or would extra seating make more sense?
more time and money than you think you'll need initially. It's
not the piece of advice most homeowners want to hear. But doing
this will alleviate stress when the unexpected pops up. And inevitably,
extra lighting on separate switches. You can never have enough
task lighting in a kitchen, but you'll rarely want it all on at
the same time.
the best appliances that you can afford. High-quality appliances
are typically a wise expenditure. But one caveat: That doesn't
necessarily mean you should purchase the most expensive appliance
available. Think about the various features you need and how you
plan on using the device.
the possibilities. Read books, clip magazines, and visit kitchen
design centers to gather the ideas that appeal to you. Use these
ideas as starting points for discussion and as tools for fine-tuning
allowances in your budget for decoration. Although the kitchen
must be highly functional, in most houses it is still the heart
of the home. Give as much thought to aesthetics as you do to functionality.
Plan for trim details, wall finishes, window treatments, or other
elements of décor that fit your style.
your storage capacity. With kitchen storage space, more is better.
Here are a few ways to make more efficient use of space:
storage for items where you use them: pots and pans should be
near the stove, dishes should be stored near the dishwasher,
and so on.
your pots and pans in drawers that pull out, rather than cabinets.
the soffit area above your cabinets so they extend all the way
to the ceiling. Use the highest shelves for those necessary
but rarely used items, like your punch bowl.
your spices in a drawer or pull-out door.
you have space, build a pantry. This frees up cabinet space
-- and it means you'll never again rummage through several cupboards
pieces that have more than one function. One example: a hinged
bench that provides seating and doubles as extra storage space.
the heights of those who work in the kitchen. If necessary, incorporate
countertops of varying heights to accommodate the people who use
the kitchen frequently. I'm about 5'3" and my husband is over
6 feet, which means our kitchen island is at the ideal height
for only one of us. (Unfortunately, it's him!)
flooring and countertop surfaces for function as well as beauty.
That black granite counter may be gorgeous, but it also highlights
every speck of dust. And a white tile floor looks immaculate when
it's installed, but it quickly shows dirt and the grout can become
dingy. Consider surfaces that mask the heavy use of your kitchen,
such as speckled countertops or off-white flooring with variegated
patterns. Beauty's important, but so is ease of cleaning and upkeep.
your sense of humor. Any renovation or design project goes through
ups and downs. Have fun during the process -- and remember to
keep a clear vision in your mind of how wonderful it will be when
it's all done.
of interior designer Kathleen Ellis
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