In Elizabeth and Bruce Wilson’s renovated kitchen, handsome cabinets, wood floors and ample space evoke a sense of home.
Some kitchens warm you up the moment you step into them regardless of room temperature. A golden glow and the ring of familiar laughter draws you in and makes you want to sit down and dig into hearty winter fare at a table big enough for the whole family and a few good friends. You know you’re in that type of kitchen when you simply don’t want to leave, and Elizabeth and Bruce Wilson’s kitchen evokes this sense of home perfectly.
Handsome maple cabinets hug every inch of available wall space, hide all kitchen clutter from view and unify the space. The antique table and wood floors in the dining room are echoes of the same polished shade and lend a slightly rustic look beside the view of their woodsy backyard through the large-panel windows. A reading nook in the corner has two squashy armchairs that are perfect for snuggling up with a book on a rainy afternoon, but the kitchen’s real centerpiece is the island. With a marble lower level for pastry making and a higher woodblock level for chopping, it’s a chef’s delight and the perfect gathering place for a hurried weekday breakfast.
Expanding the space
The Wilsons’ kitchen hasn’t always been this beautiful or this spacious. Until 2007 both the kitchen and dining area were sandwiched into one room that was roughly the size of a train car. There was no room at the table to have guests for dinner, and the lack of cabinet space and organization drove Elizabeth crazy. Being organized is the key to keeping her busy family on track and making sure they still have time to be together. She’s an OB-GYN at University Hospital, Bruce teaches social studies at Rock Bridge High School and runs the family’s small cattle farm outside of town, and their two sons, Henry, 12, and West, 17, are involved in various activities that keep them busy, but everyone makes time to eat together at least three or four times a week.
Elizabeth considered remodeling for years. She even spoke to Kerry Bramon Remodeling and Design after hearing great things about the firm from friends. She and Bruce weren’t sure if their current home was worth the cost and stress of a remodel, but she liked their neighborhood in southwest Columbia. “We’re still kind of secluded with all the trees and not so close to our neighbors, and that’s one thing we like about the neighborhood,” Elizabeth says.
In the end, the folks at Kerry Bramon gave her the little push she needed. “They called a few times and asked me, ‘Do you still want to do this?’” Elizabeth says. “And finally I said: ‘Yes! Yes, I do.’”
A place to entertain
The project started with one goal: to turn their back porch into a space for dining by removing the sliding glass door so the new room would be adjacent to the existing kitchen. But that led to a complete overhaul of the kitchen, garage entryway, mud room and laundry room. Now there is no reason for mail, keys or muddy boots to ever make it into the kitchen, and even better, there’s finally more than enough pantry space.
With construction lasting from January through May 2007, it could have been a harrowing experience, but Elizabeth found it surprisingly bearable, and she gives full credit to Bramon. “They just guide you through it so well,” she says. ”Even though I didn’t have a plan in my head, the little decisions you make along the way kind of contribute to it overall.”
Kerry Bramon agrees that taking one step at a time is the best way to tackle any home improvements. “Make sure you have a good space to work in, and then come back and decorate it,” he says. “Worry about function first, and then put a personality on it.”
Now the Wilsons are gearing up for the Superbowl party they’ve been hosting for their neighbors for about 10 years. Six to eight families from their neighborhood bring a dish to the chili-themed affair (one year, someone even brought a turducken!). Traditions such as this make the Wilsons glad they decided not to move. “If you like your neighborhood enough, it’s worth the pain of staying where you want to be,” Elizabeth says of the renovations.
Having a spacious place to entertain is definitely a perk of Elizabeth’s new kitchen, but her favorite part is that everything finally has its place. After years of searching, she has found what eluded her most — organization.