By: Shilo Urban
They say home is where the heart is, but for the families on this year’s Kitchens Tour, the heart is definitely in the kitchen. Each of the breathtaking kitchens highlighted this year is designed to be the center of household activity, whether they’re cooking up a Sunday night meal, enjoying a lazy morning with a cup of joe or entertaining friends and family with a pop-up art show. It’s also a chance to share some of that heart with the community by opening up their kitchens for food and fun—all for a good cause.
The annual tour raises money for A Wish With Wings so the organization can continue its mission of granting wishes for Texas children with life-threatening medical conditions. This year’s Kitchens Tour takes place on Saturday, Nov. 12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Guests will be able to sample gourmet treats and interact with noteworthy chefs from Bonnell’s, Grace, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle, Cuisine for Healing, Michael’s and more. Cooking up culinary perfection, the chefs will be housed in five gorgeous kitchens located close to the historic River Crest Country Club. Laurie and Clay Brants are the chairs of this year’s event. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $30 each or $35 at the door.
Here are sneak peeks into the kitchens that will be included on the tour this month.
Douglas and Robin Sanders
Sanguinet Avenue (pictured above)
When the Sanders moved into their home nearly four years ago, the empty nesters wanted a space that had a modern contemporary look but would still have all the comforts of home.
“The original owners designed the home for empty nesters,” explains Robin Sanders. “The open floor plan has lots of entertaining space without a lot of bedrooms. They even designed the garage so that it can easily be converted into a place to entertain.”
One of the highlights of the space is the kitchen, which the couple renovated in 2013 with the help of interior designer Ann Tucker. The first thing you notice about the Sanders’ kitchen is its sleek grey palette. From the dark slate polish of the concrete floor and the iron-colored cabinetry and shelving to the pale grey of its walls, the kitchen has a thoroughly sophisticated feel. The same coloring is echoed in the family room bookshelves, which can be seen from the kitchen and connect the entire space.
The couple also updated the kitchen with Bosch appliances and streamlined the range hood above the island. It’s “a contemporary, surprise element,” Sanders says, that has become the centerpiece of the kitchen. She particularly loves the hand-brushed finish that Tucker recommended on the cabinetry, which has “the subtlety of a painter’s brush.”
“A professional designer helps you keep a fresh approach,” says Sanders. “She talked us into a lot of details that I didn’t know how much I would love until I had them—like the warming drawer under the oven, our wine and bar fridges, and the vintage Murano chandelier in the dining room.”
With such a fabulous house (and kitchen!) for entertaining, we asked Sanders how often she hosts parties at the house. She confessed that while they don’t entertain as often as they’d like, they did recently host a pop-up art show for their son, Austin-based artist Jack Sanders.
“The house is a perfect place to showcase art,” she says. “We have a lot of Jack’s work on display throughout the house.”
Johnny and Jessica East
“Our kitchen is the place where we all come together,” explains Jessica East about their Bryce Avenue home, which the couple moved into over the summer. “The island is huge—it’s our central meeting spot, where we do homework, drink our morning coffee, and make popcorn for a movie and the kids’ afternoon snacks.”
With two school-aged children to care for, Johnny and Jessica East picked the home because of its open floor plan that connects the kitchen seamlessly to the dining and living areas.
“It’s such a big, open space,” says Johnny. “And the kitchen is the masterpiece in the middle.”
“Masterpiece” is an accurate word to describe the kitchen, originally designed by Julie Herd, who built the home in 2014. It has the clean lines and symmetry of an art gallery, and in fact, a Meredith Bingham painting adorns one wall.
“The kitchen has a soft, contemporary feel, but it’s also cozy and not too modern,” Jessica explains. “The flow of the kitchen is streamlined and easy to use with plenty of storage.”
Your eye is first drawn to the white Barbara Barry pendant lights above the island. The walls, cabinets and barstools are painted a warm white and accented by pale grey quartzite countertops and backsplashes. The hood over the Wolf range is also white with striking stainless steel accents. Dark wood floors help to anchor the airy lightness of the space. Other highlights of the kitchen include a Wolf convection microwave and ASKO dishwasher.
The couple, who splits their time between Dallas and Fort Worth, is still getting settled but intends to do more home cooking in their new kitchen in the coming months.
“We plan to build an elevated herb garden in the backyard,” says Johnny. “It just went in last week.”
Brad and Meridith Wallace
One of the more unique kitchens in River Crest belongs to Brad and Meridith Wallace. The house was originally designed as more of a party space, Meridith explains, and so the kitchen wasn’t laid out as a large, open concept common among newer homes. In fact, a catering kitchen adjacent to the main space originally contained restaurant-quality equipment for entertaining but since has been converted into a multipurpose mudroom.
“We contemplated opening one end of the kitchen into the living room to make it bigger, but we ultimately decided that it wasn’t meant to be changed,” she explains. “The house and kitchen are both European in design, and we wanted to keep them in a matching style.”
The couple moved into their home about a year ago, and other than adding a wall-sized pantry, the kitchen is original to the build completed 13 years prior. The European farmhouse-styled kitchen has several unique details that Meridith fell in love with. The countertops are made with a deep blue, lapis lazuli stone, and an oversized backsplash above the range is made up of tiles painted with a medley of small animals. The plaster walls, wood island and wood accents also give the kitchen its rustic, farmhouse feel, and the floor is made from reclaimed Saltillo tiles imported from Italy.
“If you look closely, you can see animal prints in some of the terracotta clay tiles made when they were drying in the sun,” Meridith says. “I have a yellow lab who loves to sprawl out on those cool tiles.”
The kitchen’s Viking appliances are anything but quaint, however, which is a good thing since Meridith spends a lot of time in her kitchen. She cooks often and grows a vegetable and herb garden in her backyard.
“One of my favorite features are the European-fashioned windows,” she says. “They have large iron hardware stoppers to prop them open that are really beautiful.”
When we asked her if she gets the opportunity to open her windows much in Texas, she laughs, “Hopefully before long!”
Joe Ortenberg and Shelly Harvey
Newlyweds Joe Ortenberg and Shelly Harvey have only been in their home since September but are already taking full advantage of their new kitchen.
“We have five teenagers,” says Harvey, “and we are in the process of combining two fully functional kitchens, so it’s like we have a professional kitchen now.”
Family friends Melissa and Todd Mehall built the house (and kitchen) two years ago and hired Kelley Roberts and Rebecca Atkinson of Beckley Design Studio to assist with the build and interior design. Melissa is an attorney by trade, but also co-owns a gluten-free cookie company, so she definitely wanted to design a beautiful kitchen that she would also be able to test recipes in.
“When we designed the kitchen, we wanted a timeless but updated feel,” explains Melissa. “Clean and modern but still warm.”
The all-white kitchen has an elegant yet lived-in feel, and a functional beauty that separates a good from a great cooking space. An oversized window above the sink illuminates the room through a translucent Roman shade. Dark accents offset the white, including brushed brass hardware and fixtures and hardwood floors. Melissa tracked down eleven matching slabs of Carrara white marble to finish the countertops, backsplashes and gorgeous oversized, waterfall-edge island in the center of the room.
“The focal points of the room are the two brushed black pendant lights with brushed brass accents hanging above the island,” Melissa says.
New owners Harvey and Ortenberg are already in love with their kitchen, particularly the large Wolf range and Kohler industrial-sized sink. But it’s a lot of the little details that Shelly appreciates the most—the pot filler by the stove, a pullout spice rack, and the sizeable pantry that includes a shelf with outlets for their Vitamix and coffee maker.
“It’s so uniform and clean,” says Harvey. “We love the big open concept and appreciate all of the storage space.”
Chad and Caroline Arnette
It’s not hard to see why Chad and Caroline Arnette’s family of five spends a lot of their time in the kitchen. They built their home in 2014 with an eye toward creating a traditional, yet cheery and welcoming kitchen as part of a larger open-concept living space.
The room is full of light from the three French doors in the kitchen, and additional light peeks in from windows in the adjoining living room. Two lantern pendant lights offer their own warm glow above the island.
“The main attraction is the very large island in the center of the kitchen,” says Caroline. “We all gather around the island—it’s a feature we just love.”
“Oversized” might not be a big enough word to describe the Arnette family’s kitchen island, a beautiful centerpiece made of Calcutta gold honed marble. With bright white walls and cabinetry, the butler’s pantry backsplash of herringbone mosaic and the sea grass tumbled marble backsplash above the range are striking, and the dark wood floors help ground the space.
The kitchen is also outfitted with Thermador appliances, which are used regularly, says Caroline.
“I have school-aged children, so we make a lot of home-cooked meals,” she explains with a laugh. “The kitchen is actually very family friendly.”
We asked Caroline if her three children ever pitch in to help prepare family meals.
“The girls like to help,” Caroline says. “I have twin 9-year-old girls. My 15-year-old on the other hand…”
Whether they’re cooking up a big meal or just watching television, the Arnette’s kitchen is undoubtedly the heart of their home.
By: Shilo Urban