As a junior high school student, Theresa Evans used to admire a two-story brick house along Cleveland, Tenn.'s historic Ocoee Street as she walked home each afternoon.
"I used to imagine how it would look if I lived there," she said of the 3,000-square-foot, Georgian-style home, which was built in 1949.
As fate would have it, she eventually bought that house in 2005 and has since methodically transformed her dream into reality one project at a time.
She enclosed the former drive-through portico in glass to create a sunroom. She painted the home's red brick a glossy white and updated the front entranceway, maximizing its curb appeal.
She chose a marble floor and graceful curving staircase for the entry foyer. The upstairs, which had been divided into two apartments, was opened back up and the ballroom dancer indulged her passion with the installation of a dance floor.
Her latest project was a kitchen renovation. Evans called upon the creative eye of Hank Matheny, member of the American Society of Interior Designers, at Haskell Interiors in Cleveland for help.
Matheny and associate Sheila Stubbs produced a functional design with an understated elegance that updates the room while blending with the home's historic ambiance.
The kitchen renovation was awarded first place for Best Traditional Kitchen in the 14th annual kitchen design competition sponsored by Signature Kitchens & Baths magazine. This is the second consecutive year that Haskell Interiors has won the national award.
Evans said the former space was nice, but was "a lot of appliances and not much kitchen. There was no natural light, and that's what I missed."
"It had a big Viking stove and stainless-steel fridge. It was out of proportion," explained Matheny. "This time we made the appliances disappear. We covered them in the same panels as the cabinets. The eye flows around the room; you see a beautiful room, not appliances."
Achieving the natural lighting Evans desired created the renovation's focal point. Two small windows were removed and replaced with a deep eyebrow window.
"Once we decided on the eyebrow window, we took it from there," said Matheny.
The room's first impression is one of a cheerful workspace in sunny shades of cream and soft gold. But it's the successful combination of textures -- glass tile, limestone, granite and onyx -- that gives the room an understated elegance.
Glass tile in shades of cream and soft green was installed around the window. The room's birch cabinets were replaced with maple cabinets in an antique cream brushed with glaze. Two custom maple cabinets on either side of the eyebrow window were given a green crackle finish, which makes the green tiles pop.
Matheny created an interesting look by continuing the granite of the countertop behind the sink right up to the eyebrow window to form an apron. The Giallo Napoleon granite is cream with hints of green and gold that complement the glass tile wall above.
"It gives it a little architectural interest, and it's practical because it's easy to clean," he said of the granite apron. "It makes the room look a little more tied into the kitchen."
Centering the kitchen is a rich cherry island, containing a prep sink, microwave, roll-out trash bins and tray dividers. Matheny designed its limestone counter with a curve to echo the arch of the eyebrow window.
Although modest in size -- 17.6 feet by 13.6 feet -- the kitchen seems much more spacious. It's an illusion created by several tips Matheny shared.
"We kept the colors analogous to each other. We kept everything fairly tonal. The limestone and even the granite is in the same color value as the cabinets," he said.
"We loaded all the 'talls' (pantry, refrigerator, double ovens) on the right side of the room to balance the stove's hood on the left. The room flows because the counters are uncluttered. If you want to make a small kitchen look big, get rid of the clutter and keep it calm and continuous."
The design includes recessed lighting as well as a carved wooden chandelier accented with blown-glass baubles. A built-in coffee bar is located near the stove. The room also contains double ovens, two dishwasher drawers that flank the sink, roll-out pantry, pot filler with a marble mosaic backsplash, appliance garages and numerous rollout drawers.
Because Evans requested the room be conducive to entertaining, a massive cherry cabinet with a U-shaped bar was installed on a side wall to divide the kitchen and den areas without breaking the flow of the space. The bar's counter is a gleaming honey onyx that contrasts the dark cherry of the cabinet and the oak flooring. A hammered copper sink adds warmth to the bar area.
"I love that I can stand behind (the bar) and entertain guests in the kitchen and den," said the homeowner. "I can use it for making cocktails or use it as a buffet. It's almost like having a third serving area."
Contact Susan Pierce at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6284.
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...