The custom-made mahogany jigsaw puzzles that Charlie and Ken Levine love to work on are a metaphor for the kitchen they helped inspire. "We spend hours working on these puzzles," says Charlie. "You don’t get a picture of what the puzzle makes, so they are a challenge. Each is a work of art." The same could be said of Charlie’s kitchen—a charming and colorful room that is a perfect reflection of the couple.
And well it should be. "I grew up in the Washington, D.C., area and was always very design-oriented," Charlie explains. "I have worked on a number of my previous homes, so by the time I moved to the Boston area [and married Ken], I’d had some time to refine my aesthetic. When I saw this kitchen, I knew right away that this wasn’t it!" Ken had given the kitchen a contemporary bachelor-pad look, which Charlie put up with for three years as she worked on her ideas.After all that time spent figuring out how she wanted the kitchen to look and function, she spent many frustrating hours trying to find a kitchen designer that shared her vision. She sketched out her ideas and shopped them around to kitchen designers with little success. "I was amazed," she says. "They just didn’t get it. But I had strong feelings; I knew what I wanted." It wasn’t until she walked into an Expo Design Center and met with kitchen designer Eileen Kollias and interior designer Keith Frederick that she finally hooked up with a team that could see how the pieces fit together.