“I have to show you my junk drawer.”
The true measure of a great kitchen remodel.
Marcia Levy pulls open the drawer. It is wide and flat, and inside are 18 compartments.
“Before, I had no idea we had all of these thingies,” she says dangling in midair one of six measuring tapes in the — what else? — measuring-tape compartment. Others are loaded with chip clips, scissors, pens, stickers, tape, flashlights. More.
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“I love this,” she says, pushing the drawer shut.
Next it’s off to view the garbage-recycle cabinet. And the utensil drawer, eight sections holding spatulas, whisks, spoons. More.
For the most part, Marcia and her husband, Mark, have loved life over the past 20 years in their big, old 1919 Craftsman in the Seward Park neighborhood. Private yard at the end of a private road, large lawn ringed with flowers and trees, all of it splayed before a real Southern belle of a front porch.
It was just the small, dark outdated kitchen that couldn’t keep up with a couple who really cooks. It needed rescuing. Something sleek, warm and functional. And that is just what interior designer Alexa Milton did.
Marcia wanted a modern kitchen in lime green, but one that also would suit the old house. Milton did that with custom lime-stained maple cabinets, white subway tile, fawn maple floors, fossil-flecked limestone counters and LED lights in recessed stripes.
Marcia wanted a kitchen where both she and Mark, and sometimes guests, too, could cook together. Milton did that with a bump-out and a new island with a prep sink.
Marcia wanted a place to dump boots, shoes and groceries, and to hang Mark’s many coats. Milton did that by adding a mudroom.
But what makes the Levys’ new kitchen a real thing of beauty is the storage. In the drawers and cabinets, on the shelves and in the pullout pantry.
“This is one of my favorites,” says Mark, opening the pots-and-pans drawer beneath the Wolf cooktop.
In response, Marcia opens the spice drawer, angled slots to keep jars snug. Below that? A home for the cookie sheets and baking racks.
She opens the knife drawer. He pulls out the oils-and-vinegars caddie. She reveals the serving plates. He counters with the flour-sugar-rice pullout. Muffin and bread pans. Mixing bowls. Grators and strainers. Copper lids. Cast-iron lids. Cuisinart and grinder.
And we’re not done yet.
“Over here is our pantry thingie,” Marcia says. She opens bins for onions and potatoes set into a cabinet next to the Liebherr refrigerator. “I had them cut a hole in the back to circulate fresh air. They last a whole lot longer that way.”
She heads for another pantry, a pullout, past shelves packed with cookbooks. “At first I thought a walk-in pantry, but I love this way better, because everything is at eye level, and it takes up way less space.”
There is one more place to see, and we do it from below as Marcia reaches overhead and throws open a drawer. “I had them make the bottoms acrylic so we can see what’s inside.” Coffee, bread-making gear.
In his retirement from the paint business, Mark has become concerned with crumb and crust, honing his skills as a bread baker. He even called King Arthur for help on a recipe (packing the flour too tight, they told him).
His hobby, and the space to pursue it, please his foodie wife.
“We thought of everything we could, storagewise,” Marcia says.
“Cuz we’re not doing this again,” says Mark.
Doesn’t look like they’ll need to.
Rebecca Teagarden writes about architecture and design for Pacific NW magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.