By Stacee Sledge
Whatcom Magazine, Winter 2006
resulted in dream designs
kitchen is the heart of a home, this is never truer than
at the holidays. Soup simmers on the stove, eggnog is
ladled into glasses, and folks gather as delectable
dishes are prepared.
distinctly different Whatcom County kitchens display all
the trimmings necessary to welcome hordes of family and
friends. As you’ll see, they also create a feast for the
Until a few years ago, Dan and Helen Green owned and
operated Bellingham’s Wild Garlic restaurant, so they
know their way around a kitchen.
selling the downtown eatery, the couple turned their
attention to building a new home on land they owned in
the King Mountain neighborhood. With the help of
designer Paula Wlaznak from Adaptations, the Greens
designed a charming space filled with practical touches.
comfortable elegance was fashioned by marrying mostly
mid-range materials with attention to detail and
higher-end accessories, such as appliances, faucets and
fir cabinets contrast against earthy green walls, while
sleek stainless steel appliances punctuate long runs of
extra-deep maple butcher block counters. “We had maple
in the restaurant and I absolutely loved it,” says Helen
Green. “I like to cut right on it.”
Decorative touches such as cabinet pulls and stainless
steel backsplashes add additional punch, while textured
glass in the windows above the sink serves functional
and decorative duty: “We used the reed glass for
privacy,” explains Dan Green.
Wlaznak helped the Greens meld their many ideas for a
stylish yet efficient space. “They knew they wanted a
cook top on the island, because that’s how they
entertain,” she says.
perhaps the most important aesthetic Wlaznak brought to
the project was the wall color.
Carol initially saw the green on the walls, she freaked
and did not like it. But after the cabinets and trim
went in, she saw how much sense it made,” says the
Bellingham designer. “That’s absolutely her favorite
color in the house now.”
the labor, Dan Green did almost all construction on the
kitchen himself, including plumbing and electric. He’d
created kitchens for Helen in many of their previous
homes, but she says he outdid himself on this project.
matter where we’ve lived, I’ve had a nice kitchen,
thanks to Dan. Not as nice as this, though,” Helen Green
couple’s biggest splurge? A Wolf range topped by a
massive vent hood suspended above the kitchen’s sizeable
island. Wood panels above the vent soften the look and
keep it from dominating the space.
favorite thing is the range,” says Helen Green. “But I
also love the layout itself. I just like the way the
comfortable kitchen proves that you don’t have to go
custom to create a high-end look. “We didn’t really
splurge,” she adds. “Nothing in here is out of the
ordinary, except maybe the range and the hood.”
Greens couldn’t be more pleased with the final product.
And both of them reap the rewards of all the planning
and hard work.
night, Dan looked at his dinner plate and said, ‘You
must have had fun tonight,’” laughs Helen. “I always
have fun in my kitchen!”
Three years ago, after living
in — and loving — their North Shore home for 15 years,
Jim and Jean Gray decided it was time to rearrange more
than just the furniture.
used to be a sunken family room is now the kitchen,
while the previous cooking space has been transformed
into a dining area, efficiently flanked by an office and
small bar. As for the old dining room, it’s now a cozy
these remodeled areas work together as a tight trio,
creating an airy space that opens onto a wide view of
love it. It makes much more sense of the spaces than the
way we used them before,” says Jean Gray. “And it’s just
more interesting. You never see a sunken kitchen!”
kitchen’s look is best defined as European. “It leans
French and has some English,” says Gray. “But there are
aspects of it that remind me of New York apartments I’ve
Because Gray has a design background, it wasn’t a
stretch for her to nail down ideas for her dream
kitchen. She had done her homework and knew what she
liked. One call to Ken Van Winkle, co-owner of Evergreen
Custom Cabinetry, and the Grays’ new kitchen was on its
way to becoming a reality.
was a real collaborative effort,” says Van Winkle. “And
the end result was spectacular, a cut above.”
cabinetry plays against cheery yellow walls and soft
artichoke-green accents. A basket-weave design of white
and green tile brightens the backsplash above the range.
Antique French plates and other ceramic pieces are
displayed throughout, alongside colorful textiles,
eye-catching chandeliers and personally meaningful
differences in cabinetry details add visual interest
between the spaces. The kitchen cabinets run to the
ceiling with glass doors on the uppermost cupboards,
allowing for lighted display space. In the shared office
and dining area, the cabinets are dropped and capped by
molding. Rather than glass, select doors are finished
with cross hatches of wire.
use of five different countertop materials adds a
variety of texture. Wood and granite are used on the
desktop and bar, while Corian, tile and butcher block
are found in the kitchen.
island’s substantial butcher block counter was custom
made — twice. “It took two tries, because the first one
was so massive that it warped. People think butcher
block is easy, but it really takes a lot of skill,”
notes Van Winkle.
Architectural touches set this kitchen apart. “The
attention to detail with moldings, lighted cabinets,
flutes, corbels and legs added an amazing amount of
interest,” says Van Winkle. “Jean has a great eye for
cookbooks packed into several different spots, it’s not
unusual for Jean to put them to use cooking for a crowd.
The open layout means friends sit at the island and
visit with her while she works, while another guest
might surf the Internet at the desk, and even more
gather around the new wood-burning fireplace created in
the seating area.
were always kitchen gatherers, and it was amazing how
many people we could stuff into the smaller room,” says
Gray. “But this is so much nicer; we can fit a lot more
Style with a stunning view
More than three decades ago,
Delight Green worked with an architect to design the
home she shares with husband Michael Newlight off of
Chuckanut Drive. Though the home had always served the
family well, the decision for a roomier kitchen
renovation was made two years ago.
had a very nice family room, but the kitchen never
seemed quite big enough,” says Green.
down to the studs it went. With the help of a slew of
talented contractors, including woodworker Erik Pearson
of Elikki Digits Woodworking, the spirit of the
Newlight-Green home was reinvented.
previous kitchen’s footprint was dramatically
transformed by bumping out six and a half feet. A
smaller above-sink window gave way to a nine-foot-wide
pane of glass that overlooks breathtaking views of
kitchen’s cabinetry holds its own against the stunning
scenery — no small feat.
couple knew they wanted a modern Berloni style:
clean-lined cabinets of warm wood striped with thin
horizontal lines of cool aluminum-tinged paint. They
also liked the complementary European-style hardware
that paralleled the cabinetry’s design.
the original Canadian company hired to create the
kitchen went out of business, Newlight and Green turned
to Bellingham woodworker Erik Pearson of Elikki Digits
Woodworking to pick up the reins. “They gave me the
designs, and I had the challenge of converting
everything from metric,” he says with a laugh.
Pearson’s cabinetry design melds American black cherry
with actual aluminum strips, rather than paint. “I
hadn’t done aluminum inlay before and it took a few
samples to get it right,” he says. “But they got the
Berloni style they were looking for — with the added
bonus that the aluminum won’t scratch off like paint
Research was key in tracking down the right materials.
“It was a bit of an international project,” Pearson
says, “with tambour doors from Germany, aluminum glass
doors from Canada, hardware from Germany, hinges from
Italy, and cabinet carcasses from America.”
integrated dishwasher, two Sub-Zero refrigerators, and
refrigerator drawers blend in, covered in the same
facing as the cabinetry. Only the range and double
European Miele ovens feature black finishes, which draw
out the darker flecks in the otherwise light granite
countertops and backsplash.
the kitchen offers more than just dazzling looks;
there’s also a practical side to this stunner.
storage solutions abound in the streamlined space.
Drawers are deep, and many carry a second, shallow
drawer that slides back and forth on top of the main
compartment to hold smaller items. One cleverly placed
drawer pulls out of the kick space where the cabinets
meet the floor, making use of a typically wasted area.
kitchen also boasts a “magic corner” installed in one
lower corner cabinet. Its door swings out while special
hardware pulls items from the depths of the
difficult-to-reach space and brings them front and
juggling the placement of appliances, the couple made
the layout more conversation-friendly. “I used to face a
wall when I worked at the stove,” explains Newlight. Now
the range, crowned by a super-sleek hood, faces the
family room’s bar, eating area and conversation pit,
meaning anyone who mans the pans can still be part of
formed from vastly varied design decisions, all of these
Whatcom County kitchens share one trait: an openness
that welcomes conversation and sharing.
Stacee Sledge is a
freelance writer who recently remodeled her kitchen.
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