photography by justin fox burks
In case you haven’t noticed, kitchens are front and center in today’s homes. A wide variety of magazines are dedicated solely to kitchens — whether Old World, contemporary, coastal, cottage, or farmhouse in style.
No longer common workspaces hidden behind closed doors, kitchens are the sophisticated heart of many homes, the place where family and guests all gather. More than ever, it’s a truism today to say, “Everyone ends up in the kitchen.” Additionally, realtors tell us that remodeled kitchens add serious value to a transaction, and can literally make or break a home’s sale.
All of which means that designing, outfitting, and maintaining today’s kitchen is a very big business. So this month, with “Great Memphis Homes,” we chose to pass on the “big picture,” so to speak, and instead — during this time of year when we like to be cozily inside anyway —feature very different kitchens (two renovations and one all-original) in three very special homes.
What these three kitchens have in common is sleek functionality and stylish attractiveness. Additionally, these particular homeowners have more than a passing connection with the business of food and wine. And our photographer on this assignment, Justin Fox Burks, certainly knows his way around a kitchen himself, as evidenced by his popular blog, The Chubby Vegetarian, and his recently published second book of recipes with the same name; both blog and books are written in conjunction with his wife, Amy Lawrence.
The Hudman Kitchen
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When we photographed this kitchen, Michael and Katie Hudman had literally just moved into their new East Memphis home, which had undergone a major renovation by Uhlhorn Brothers. It comes as no surprise that this kitchen is of special importance to these homeowners, since Hudman, along with his childhood friend and business partner Andrew Ticer, are the celebrated chefs/owners of Andrew-Michael Italian Kitchen, Hog and Hominy, Porcellino’s Craft Butcher, and Catherine and Mary’s, as well as Josephine Estelle in New Orleans.
The Hudmans greeted us graciously and talked about their new kitchen, a room that clearly has pride of place in their house. Also on hand was their talented friend and interior designer, Sarah Spinosa, who was happy to share with us some of her “tricks of the trade” that make this kitchen so special.
For starters, where three small rooms once existed (the old kitchen, a small breakfast nook, and the former living room) at the light-filled front of the house, there now is one large open-plan kitchen and family room. Hudman says he especially likes the clean, industrial look of the shiplap horizontal paneling on the kitchen walls; this was also used in his Hog and Hominy restaurant. He is also “obsessed” with his new farmhouse sink. The cabinetry and marble countertops were custom built by Mike Whittington. The walls are painted a beautiful, neutral Eider White by Sherwin Williams, and on the kitchen island, the paint color is Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy. The gorgeous light fixture over the island is by Visual Comfort, and the durable, retro counter stools are by Tolix. The hardwood flooring is original to the house, although some patching was necessary in several areas.
The GE Monogram line of appliances used in this new kitchen is from CenWood, and the pots and pans are, as Hudman says, “just passed down.” The kitchen island in Hudman’s mind is a new version of old-timey kitchen tables, and he and his wife are eager to establish new traditions. Although the home has a lovely dining room, many meals clearly will be served in this wonderful new kitchen, and its island will be a place for the children, Ellie and Cory, to do their homework and the family to informally gather together.
Hudman loves the flow of the new design and admits his favorite spot is on the sectional sofa (courtesy of Stash) that divides the kitchen and family room, and gazing out at the woodland scene in his free time — whenever that might be! The day-to-day cooking is mostly handled by Katie, who is very busy herself as an executive director of the cosmetics company Beautycounter; however, I suspect that that duty is now made more fun and much easier in her brand new, state-of-the-art kitchen.
Chef Hudman loves to cook with his children, whom he calls “his picky little eaters,” and together they make pasta and pizza just as he did with his grandmother, Catherine Chiozza. The cuisine in all of his restaurants is “traditional Italian food through a Southern lens,” and his career as a chef in a sense began with his grandmother’s incredible ragout gravy, which he uses today in his restaurants. Family dinners shaped his life, and Hudman adds simply, “she is the reason why I cook.”
The Cohen Kitchen
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This kitchen is in a charming, mid-century modern home in East Memphis owned for eight years by Matt Cohen, who is the purchasing manager for Lit Restaurant Supply, Memphis’ longtime seller of kitchen and restaurant equipment and supplies. Kitchens are clearly a big part of Cohen’s life, but his own kitchen had not been touched in years, and was sorely in need of updating. When his good friend and roommate, Isaac Stock, moved to Los Angeles, Cohen realized there was no time like the present to renovate. He turned to contractor Tom Durhan of Mid-South Property Solutions to take on the job.
Cohen was very fortunate that Cathy Price, an interior designer with a specialty in kitchens, who is now based in Knoxville, though available for projects in Memphis, was happy to provide her expertise in reconfiguring the kitchen’s layout. His girlfriend, Ralston O’Neill, who had worked for the design magazine Dwell, and now works remotely from Memphis for Indeed.com, happily stepped in to help Cohen pick out materials and manage the project in a cost-effective manner — much of which entailed beating a path to Home Depot and Sherwin Williams almost daily!
Nothing was salvageable and so the kitchen was entirely gutted. No additional space was added; everything, as a result, had to be done within the existing confines of the room — an open-plan concept was out of the question. The only exception was that the wall between the kitchen and the family room was opened up by several feet, which definitely made the kitchen feel less claustrophobic and helped with traffic flow.
The three original windows were preserved and fitted with linen roman shades from Pottery Barn outlet, and the room now is filled with light. Also, the old paneling in one area was saved to add interest and texture. At the outset, it was decided there was not sufficient room for an island in the kitchen, and building a banquette/window seat in the sunny corner has been deferred for now. The small, blue, vintage table and modern, white, Eames-style chairs work very well there. The bulbous pendant light is from Wayfair, and recessed and under-counter lighting were added to further brighten the room.
The room was painted White Heron by Sherwin Williams, and the cabinets are shaker-style with sleek vertical pulls. The countertops are Black Pearl granite in a honed finish, which adds a textured element. The flooring is cream-colored porcelain tile, while the backsplash is white subway tile with gray grout. The monochromatic scheme strikes a sophisticated and modern balance between dark and light, with both matte and glossy finishes. One problem (among quite a few others!) was that there was no room for a laundry area, therefore the washer and dryer had to remain in the kitchen, but were thoughtfully incorporated into the new design and countertop added to create additional work space.
The job took several months to complete and as with most older homes, there were plumbing and electrical “surprises” to overcome. Living in a house while renovations are under way and being without a kitchen can be difficult, but this homeowner is particularly pleased with the work of his contractor and all of his subcontractors who helped along the way.
Since he is in the business of restaurant supply, and it so happens he likes to cook, Cohen had no problem with stocking his new kitchen with pots and pans, glasses, plates, and other kitchen essentials. Ralston O’Neill (yes, she is indeed my daughter) had fun adding to the mid-century, retro theme with some vintage Pyrex and Russel Wright bowls, while Cohen’s mother, Sheila, provided a Nespresso coffee-maker as a “kitchen warming” gift.
Now it’s onwards and upwards to remodeling the master bath!
The Turner Kitchen
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This kitchen is in a magnificent new home designed by well-known local architect Charles Shipp and built by Hedgepeth Construction, LLC, in a gated community off Central Avenue near the Pink Palace. The owners are Bob and Shirley Turner, a couple originally from Memphis who lived for many years in San Francisco and have now returned to the city.
Bob is the man behind Robert Turner Wines, whose excellent Northern California chardonnays, pinot noirs, and cabernet francs are sold both in retail stores and fine restaurants around town; for more on Bob and his wines, check out the August 2013 issue of this magazine online.
Shirley Turner is an artist, a wonderful cook, and someone with exceptional taste in interior décor. Not surprisingly, she wanted a home with a “California influence,” which she means open, spacious, modern, and light-filled, with lovely green views on all sides, seen through dramatic steel-framed windows. With all this in mind, she clearly had a large hand in planning her kitchen, and I think readers will agree it turned out just as she had hoped.
According to Turner, a number of professionals helped to make this showstopping kitchen what it is, thanks to their invaluable advice and talents. I just know she would like me to mention them, as well as thank them, so here goes. Sara Phillips of Ferguson Bath, Kitchen and Lighting Gallery helped tremendously and tirelessly with decisions on appliances. Previously wedded to gas for cooking, Turner says she was hard to convince as regards an electric, flat-top cooking surface, but she tells me that now she’s hooked — obsessed is more like it — with her Thermador Freedom Induction cooktop.
The custom, shaker-style cabinets were built by Old City Millwork under the guidance of Posey Hedges; and, by the way, the sub-zero refrigerator is hidden in the handsome cabinetry. The color used for the kitchen is a soft, sophisticated taupe, and the skillful painting was by Acosta Custom Painting. The island’s counters are poured concrete courtesy of Brandon Browning of Modern Edge Concrete, and the granite used elsewhere was found at Triton Stone. The sound system was installed by Memphis Home Theater. Nancy Tucker, a consultant with Graham’s Lighting, advised on light fixtures.
There is much more to this kitchen than just the cooking area, as you can see in the photographs; there is an adjacent breakfast area and a large, comfortable sitting room with a fireplace. And I can’t forget to mention the pièce de résistance, which is Robert Turner’s amazing wine room. As we were photographing their home, cases of his wines were being delivered to fill up the room, and of course how could I say “no” to a tiny tasting?
The Turners have only recently moved into their grand new abode, but I can tell it is already feeling like home, although they laughingly agree they went completely counter to the current trend of downsizing at a certain age. In fact, they “upsized,” and how!