Take 3

Whether you want to save money or Mother Nature, be inspired by these clever kitchens

Photographs by Jeff Herr

1  The Homeowners John and Wendi Wells, with their two teenage children, Brant and Audrey. John’s dedication to green practices crossed over from his job with eco-minded Interface, the Atlanta-based carpet company, to the family’s new custom home.

Green House Solar panels on the roof, geothermal heating and air conditioning, and rainwater harvesting systems reduce utility costs. In the kitchen, floors and island countertop are each made of reclaimed wood. Formaldehyde-free cabinets and a salvaged light fixture also give this classic kitchen a sustainable sensibility. But if the materials are cutting-edge, the design is Old World. Cabinetry resembles furniture. Vintage touches such as subway tile, marble countertops, and a wood-plank ceiling give the new house a historic look.

Back Story The wood used for the island top is from an old oak tree that was knocked down in Oakland Cemetery by the tornado of 2008 (when many of the windows in the Westin Peachtree Plaza were also damaged). An adjacent butcher-block prep table was made from wood salvaged from the White Provision factory. Wendi loves the island’s beat-up, lived-in quality. “I wanted the island to look like an old French bakery table with an antique piece of furniture pushed up next to it,” she says. “We laugh that it’s full of ghosts and haints.”

Test Drive A few weeks after moving into the new house, Wendi and John hosted Thanksgiving for twenty-five people. “The tables where people ate were spread out all over the house, but we were able to put all the food and plates—the entire meal—on the island,” recalls Wendi. The kitchen’s three dishwashers (a full-size one and two dishwasher drawers) earned their keep that day too.

2  The Homeowners Howard and Ellen Feinsand commute between Manhattan, Indianapolis, and Atlanta.

The Challenge Although only 200 square feet (just eight feet wide), this galley-style kitchen in their Colony House condo has to live large. “The Feinsands needed the room to function in three different ways,” says kitchen designer Robin Pittman of Design Galleria. “It serves as a kitchen, laundry room, and a bar–serving area, so we had to use every inch.”

Triple Duty A pantry at the end of the kitchen has frosted glass doors so the room doesn’t seem too closed in. Open metal shelves against a glass backsplash keep the look modern and streamlined. The other side of the room contains a second sink (where Ellen repots her orchids) and hides a washer-dryer below. Counter space can be used to fold clean laundry one day, then serve as an entertaining station the next.

Shiny Things The cappuccino-colored cabinets have a shiny lacquer finish—a good fit for this high-rise home that overlooks the sparkle of Atlanta skyscrapers—but the floors are limestone tiles with a matte surface. Similarly, the metal fixtures and glass backsplash are reflective, but honed granite countertops provide contrast. “Everyone loves the colors in here, and particularly the glass tiles,” says Ellen. Design Galleria kitchen specialists and interior designer Bill Stewart worked together to coordinate the carefully balanced room.

Test Drive The Feinsands have entertained as many as a hundred guests in their condo. “We’ve had two particularly memorable parties using this kitchen,” says Ellen. “A dinner party in honor of artist Todd Murphy to celebrate the installation of a major piece by him in our living room, and a surprise party for all of Howard’s friends to celebrate his birthday.”

3 The Homeowners The ultimate hyphenate couple: Cinda, an interior designer–TV personality–owner of Cinda B, a quilted accessories line; and Mark, an artist-businessman-entrepreneur. They bought a 1920s Italianate house in Buckhead a few years ago and gave it their own artsy update.

Save and Splurge The Boomershines saved money on remodeling their kitchen by keeping existing cabinetry, although they rearranged the components to position the sink under a window. To spruce up the old cabinets, every surface now wears Lucite hardware and a couple coats of gray oil paint in a glossy finish. With the cabinetry savings, they splurged on Calcutta marble countertops. A cork floor brings more interesting texture into the room. Cinda loves the mix of high-low elements, which include budget-savers such as four Ikea pendants. “One wouldn’t have been interesting. It’s the repetition that works,” says Cinda.

Walls of Another Stripe “Home is my laboratory to experiment with ideas that clients wouldn’t normally let me do,” says Cinda. Case in point: using leftover paint from adjoining rooms to create stripes on the upper walls, which is both an affordable wall treatment and a conversation piece. Mark patiently did the application himself. “A good level and painters tape are your best friends for a job like that,” says Cinda.

Time Together “We take turns as far as who does the cooking, depending on who’s the busiest at any given time,” says Cinda. But both of them pitch in for the annual “Fig Extravaganza.” In July, when the Boomershines’ backyard fig tree is bursting with fruit, the two experiment with every sort of concoction that can be made with figs—such as fig-prosciutto pizza. “We try new things every day until we’re totally sick of figs,” she says.

This article originally appeared in our November 2010 issue.