Tuscan Kitchen Remodel

Featured in Houston House & Home

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Nancy Davis’s family is no longer surprised when they find nasturtiums in the dinner salad. Davis loves to cook and try unusual recipes. She has an extensive vegetable garden in the backyard of her West University home. “The flower has a peppery taste that adds spice and color,” says Davis of nasturtiums, which she grows along side her vegetables.

“The new kitchen makes everything so much easier, and it contributes to the overall look of the house. My only regret is that I waited so long to get it.” You might logically assume that Davis’ kitchen would reflect her interest in gourmet foods and cooking. However until recently, that wasn’t the case. The kitchen had small, antiquated appliances and just one oven. “We had been living in the house for 10 years, and we just hadn’t gotten around to redoing it,” she explains.

To help remodel the kitchen Nancy and her husband, John, chose Wayne Ball of Lone Star Building and Construction Services Inc. Ball has worked with the Davises on several other remodeling projects with excellent results.

To the Bare Walls

“The overall flow of the kitchen was fine,” says Ball. “But the room definitely needed to be updated, and Nancy required more counter space.” The project began by tearing the kitchen down to the bare walls. Ball, who closely supervises his jobs, was on site and involved in all aspects of the project.

A new cabinet system was an absolute necessity. “Wayne encouraged us to use all-wood cabinets for durability and to select options that would minimize clutter on the countertops,” says Davis. After consulting with Maggie Grant of Cabinets and Designs, they chose factory-built Wood Mode cabinets, made to the Davises’ specifications. The new cabinets are white and include a combination of solid and glass fronts that blend attractively into the room, contributing to the kitchen’s efficient, modern appearance.

The old kitchen had a raised breakfast bar separating it from the family room. To create more counter space, Ball and the Davises decided to replace it with a single-level island. Sructural posts at each end have been skillfully and attractively incorporated into the design. The island and other countertops are granite, chosen for the stone’s sleek contemporary look as well as for its practicality. Granite is extremely durable, resists staining, and can even be used as a cutting board because it is so impervious to scratches.

Cooking Conveniences

Appliances in the new kitchen have stainless steel fronts. Nancy Davis is particularly happy with her commercial-style, six-burner Viking gas cook top located in the island. Because the kitchen is open, the cook top has a pop-up vent. When not in use, it recedes so as not to block the sight lines between the kitchen and the family room.

The Davises are also pleased with their Bosch dishwasher. “It’s so quiet we can run it and still watch TV or visit in the family area,” she says.

Davis also liked the idea of putting hot and cold water dispensers at the island sink. “It’s very helpful to have instant hot water for cooking, pre-warming serving dishes or for brewing a cup of tea,” she says. The instant water tap takes the place of a water dispenser in the refrigerator door.

The kitchen had two sinks, one convenient to the cooking area and one close to the dishwasher. Davis has large pans, which hang over the island, and each sink had to be large enough to comfortably accommodate them. “They’re the biggest single-basin sinks I’ve ever seen,” jokes Ball. “You could almost use them as bathtubs.”

Adding Warmth

Aesthetics played a key role in the design of the kitchen. With all the stainless steel and granite, the room could have ended up looking cold and sterile. To help counter that tendency, the Davises decided to use as much natural light as possible. They added casement windows above the sink and also restored the floor to a light, wood grain finish. Installed pure white halogen lights in food preparation and cooking areas to supplement and to add natural light. These lights are on dimmer switches to allow pinpoint control of brightness levels and to help create ambience.

The Davises have enjoyed summer vacations in Tuscany and love that region’s warm, welcoming architecture. They were able to bring some of that feeling into their kitchen by selecting a low-gloss earth toned Tuscan tile for the backsplash. The tile, which is cut in large squares and placed on the diagonal, makes a nice contrast to the coolness of the stainless steel and granite.

A final goal was to open up the back of the room so that it flowed visually into the outdoor dining area. This was accomplished by replacing one set of divided-lite doors with solid-glass French doors.

The kitchen remodeling project was finished in October of last year, and Nancy Davis is enjoying the results. “The new kitchen makes everything so much easier, and it contributes to the overall look of the house.” She says. “My only regret is that I waited so long to get it.”