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Fabulous Before-and-After Showhouse Kitchen

A modern design draws on personalities past and present

Written by Amy Elbert
  • Peter Rymwid

    Notes inadvertently left behind, a previous owner’s love of dogs, and world events of the early 20th century (including the sinking of the Titanic) all played into Lisa Mende’s design of the kitchen at the Junior League of High Point, North Carolina, 2015 Designer Showhouse.

    “Every time I start a project, I go back to the history of the house and look to the interests of the homeowners for inspiration,” the designer says. This house was built in 1912 when Art Deco design was emerging, Mende notes, so she chose a classic black-and-white palette and bold geometric patterns (Deco favorites) for fabrics and a wallcovering on the ceiling.

    White subway-style tiles extend from the quartz countertops to the ceiling, defining the work zone and creating a clean backdrop that harkens to an early 1900s kitchen. Window fabrics are graphic Deco-like, black-and-white motifs that depict oversize champagne flutes stacked end-to-end. “That’s a nod to the original owner of the house, who was a big entertainer,” Mende says. (Dorothy Terry’s entertaining diaries were found in the kitchen during demolition.)

    An existing deeply recessed skylight was also integrated into the design with some clever visual tricks. Mende painted the skylight’s wood trim black to match the cabinets, extended cabinets to the ceiling, and covered the ceiling with a graphic wall covering. “Now the skylight feels more a part of the design; it feels fresh and intentional. Light floods the room and makes the room feel warm and inviting.”

    The palette and motifs, such as “Labyrinth” by Cole & Son on the ceiling, are Art Deco-inspired.

    Photography: Peter Rymwid and Dustin Peck

    Interior designer: Lisa Herring Mende, Lisa Mende Design, 2935 Providence Rd.., Suite 202, Charlotte, NC 28211; 704/561-1466,  

    Cabinet design (by Melonie Plotkowski): Marsh Kitchens,
    Cabinet style (“Summerfield”/Onyx): Marsh Furniture,
    Cabinetry hardware (“Lewis Dolin Bar Hardware in Brushed Brass, 12-inch pull, #31-105); bar knob (#41-101; 6-inch model (#31-104): My Knobs,
    Flooring (handcrafted from 8x10-inch wide plank White Oak, prefinished with a Custom Amber Matte and finished with soft wire brush): Carlisle Wide Plank Floors,
    Wall and ceiling paint (“Designer White” #33-1); trim paint (“Black” #25-17); primer (Dark Primer): Pratt & Lambert,
    Ceiling wallpaper (“Labyrinth”/Black, Beige #93/5018CS, by Cole & Son): Lee Jofa,
    Range (48-inch Professional Series Pro Grand Commercial Depth Dual Fuel Steam Range #PRD48JDSGU); MicroDrawer (24-inch Built-In #MD24JS); refrigerator (48-inch Built-In Side-by-Side” #T48BD820NS); wine preservation column (18-inch Built-In #T181W800SP); dishwasher (“Panel Ready Star-Sapphire” #DWHD651JPR); coffee machine (Built-In, Fully Automatic #BICM24CS, in Stainless Steel): Thermador,
    Perimeter countertop (“Serene” #Q1001); island countertop (“Kolams” #Q4009): Wilsonart Quartz,
    Installation: The Stone Resource,
    Backsplash (“Earthenware Elements Rectangle Field Tile”/Gross White  3x6 inches #AS9500FLD): Ann Sacks,
    Main sink (“Cast Iron Kitchen Sink” #L20305-00); main faucet (“Bacchus High-Arc Kitchen Set with Side Spray”/Antique Copper #P21563-00); island sink (“Monte Carlo II Round Bar Sink”#P20283-00); island faucet (“Bacchus High-Arc Basin/Bar Set”/Antique Copper #P21560-00): Kallista,
    Wall lights (“Pimlico Double Swing Arm Wall Lamp” #CHD2150); ceiling light (“Sophia Flush Mount” #AH4016, by Alexa Hampton): Circa Lighting,
    Roman shade fabric (“French 75/Mademoiselle,” Deco Collection): Cotton & Quill,
    Trim (“Nixon”/Lemongrass #1830, discontinued): CR Laine,
    Window treatment fabrication: JD Stanley & Co. Inc.,
    Counter stool (“Bess” #3048); fabric (“Strands”/Onyx #1127); trim (“Kiwi,” and nailheads): CR Laine,
    Area rug (“Catamaran Stripe”/Sprout, Ivory): Dash & Albert,
    Acrylic shelves (custom): Lisa Mende Design,
    Blue-and-white bowls on shelf (“Jardin Des Plantes” #30571251, by Ruan Hoffmann); blue-and-white teapot (“Jardin Des Plantes,” by Ruan Hoffmann #30542351): Anthropologie,
    Blue-matted sketches flanking sink (by Becky Clodfelter); large blue-and-white bowl on island: Lisa Mende Design,
    Black bowl on island: discontinued.
    Circle sculpture in black bowl (“Sculpture Sphere, Gold, Small” #1170224): West Elm,
    Copper stock pot (“Mauviel”): Sur La Table,

  • Kitchen Before

    The Terry Estate's kitchen was seriously dated.

  • Peter Rymwid

    Sleek Cabinets

    Painted black cabinets with simple Shaker-style doors are accented with hefty brushed-brass hardware. The bar-style drawer and door pulls and brass swing-arm sconces mounted on the walls are reminiscent of ship fixtures, a nod to the sinking of the Titanic—a major news event in 1912, Mende says. 

    While the vintage of the home affected the design, the new layout and appliance choices were all about 21st-century function. “My first thoughts were how would a modern family live in this space,” the designer says. The existing kitchen, while outdated, had been home to serious cooks and entertainers in the Terry family over the decades, and it was important to Mende to continue that tradition. “I wanted the kitchen to work for real cooks,” she says.

    The work zone is grounded by a large center island that houses a microwave drawer on the range side and bar-stool seating for up to five people on the other. A cabinet next to the microwave stores a stand mixer on a pullout shelf that lifts the mixer to work height.

    The new arrangement creates an efficient workstation with the range, microwave, island sink, and mixer all within a few steps of one another, the designer notes. She also provided ample counterspace, two sinks, and a circular traffic pattern around the island to comfortably accommodate more than one cook. “In today’s world, both spouses are working outside the home and sharing cooking duties,” the designer says. Creating multiple workstations and seating also allows guests to be involved with the cook and food prep when people entertain at home, she adds.

    “Summerfield” Shaker-style cabinets painted black are from Marsh Furniture, a family-owned cabinetmaker since 1906 based in High Point. Marsh “came to our rescue,” providing these beautiful cabinets in time to meet a tight showhouse schedule, Mende says.

  • Dustin Peck

    Modern Upgrades

    “Today the range is a really important appliance, and I wanted one that was hardworking and beautiful enough to be a focal point,” Mende says. For that honor, the designer chose a 48-inch-wide, dual-fuel range with steam and convection ovens with a wood-paneled hood and set it between two windows. On the wall opposite the range are the built-in, side-by-side stainless-steel refrigerator and freezer, a full-height wine preservation column, and a built-in coffee machine.

    “Pimlico” double swing- arm wall lamps with a brushed-brass finish illuminate the work surfaces and add vintage charm. The library-style sconces and the chunky brass hardware also have a masculine feel that suits male as well as female cooks—important in today’s kitchen where both sexes are regular cooks.

    Glossy white subway-style “Earthenware Elements” tiles contrast with the black cabinets and “create a perfect backdrop for the kitchen,” says designer Mende. Extended from countertop to ceiling, they have a retro vibe appropriate to the house’s age and “make the whole kitchen feel so clean and fresh,” she adds.

  • Peter Rymwid

    Functional Range

    The 48-inch-wide Pro Grand Commercial Depth Dual Fuel Steam Range has built-in steam and convection ovens, six gas burners (including a 22,000 BTU power burner and an extra-low simmering feature), a titanium griddle, and warming drawer.

  • Dustin Peck

    Kitchen Seating

    Warmth is enhanced by 8- and 10-inch-wide, long-plank, white-oak floors that replaced badly damaged ’80s-era parquet. Designated as Original Grade, the planks were sawn from the base and mid-portions of trees, which yields boards that closely resemble antique floors. The planks also were hand-finished with soft wire brushes to give them a gently worn texture that complements the beautiful patina of original old floors elsewhere in the house.

    The large island has CR Laine “Bess” bar stools with seats covered in “Strand” fabric and trimmed with “Kiwi” nailheads. Apple-green accents include a “Catamaran Stripe” rug from Dash & Albert. The trim around windows, doors, and the skylight was painted Pratt & Lambert “Black” in a satin finish to coordinate with the cabinets and unify the space.

    Badly worn parquet floors were replaced with 8- and 10-inch-wide white oak planks. Handcrafted with a soft wire brush and a custom “Amber Matte” finish, the floors have a warm, aged patina that complements original floors in other parts of the house and creates a sense of flow from room to room.

  • Peter Rymwid

    Scuptural Sink

    Mende fell in love with a sculptural undermount double-bowl sink and had it fronted with an apron made with the quartz material used for countertops. “I wanted something rooted in history but not a typical farmhouse sink, so we added a panel of quartz,” Mende says. An 18-inch brass rail mounted on the apron keeps towels handy, making the design as functional as it is elegant. 

    The sinks are fitted with vintage-style copper faucets. “Copper is coming to the fore, and it felt authentic for this space,” Mende says. Mixing metals—copper, nickel bar sink, brass hardware, and stainless-steel appliances—makes for a more interesting design, she adds, and ensures the new kitchen is in sync with its storied past.

    A vintage-style “Bacchus High-Arc” faucet in antique copper is paired with a “Monte Carlo II” bar sink in hammered nickel. “I wanted to show it was OK to mix metals,” says designer Lisa Mende. The island is topped with “Kolams” quartz, which has a subtle faux-grain design. Perimeter countertops are plain white “Serene” quartz. The materials are reminiscent of marble but are far more durable and stain-resistant.

  • Peter Rymwid

    Breakfast Room

    With one end of the 26x14-foot room dedicated as a work zone, Mende transformed the other into a breakfast room with a settee and kiwi-green leather chairs around an oval table. “Breakfast rooms have become important features for today’s families,” she says. “Yes, we love gathering around an island, but we also like a separate space for sitting down and relaxing with a cup of coffee.”

    Wallpaper (“Shang Extra Fine Sisal”/Royal Blue #T41180): Thibaut,
    Trim paint (“Black” #25-17): Pratt & Lambert,
    Ceiling wallpaper  (“Labyrinth”/Black, Beige #93/5018CS, by Cole & Son): Lee Jofa,
    Dining table (“Dian” #M-7520-202-WAL): French Heritage,
    Banquette (“Soho” #5004); fabric (“It’s All Greek”/Onyx #1125, with “Kiwi” trim and antique nailheads); chairs (“Sweeney”/Fruitwood finish #245); chair leather (“Rodeo”/Citron): CR Laine,
    Pillow on chair (“Elsie”/Regency, Regency Collection): Cotton & Quill,
    Chandelier (“Jean-Louis” #9503): Currey & Co.,
    Area rug (“Catamaran Stripe”/Sprout, Ivory): Dash & Albert,
    Bookcase (“Transitions Horizontal Bookcase” #SBT288): Somerset Bay Home,
    Lamps on bookcase  (“Kate Table Lamp” #AH3024, by Alexa Hampton): Circa Lighting,
    Painting above bookcase (custom, by Kerry Steele): Anne Neilson Fine Art Gallery,
    Black-and-white painting by kitchen (Dinner Party Table Runner): by Mark Boomershine,
    Drapery: Black Linen Drapery trim (“French 75/Mademoiselle,” Deco Collection): Cotton & Quill,
    Fabrication: Donna Stanley, JD Stanley & Co.,
    Drapery hardware (“Estate Metal” #12160075 ABRS): Restoration Hardware,
    Stemware (“Bunny Williams Cobalt Goblets” #BG165); blue-and-white porcelain vase, and centerpiece vase (#AD552): Ballard Designs,
    Napkins (“Belgian Flax Linen Napkin”/Royal Blue #5777490): Pottery Barn,

  • Breakfast Room Before

    Now: A low-hanging support beam (added when the kitchen was enlarged in the 1980s) was lifted so it is nearly flush with the rest of the 101/2-foot-high ceiling, unifying and opening up the space. 

  • Elegant Affairs

    Dorothy Terry, the wife of Randall B. Terry Sr., who built the High Point house, was a frequent hostess and kept detailed diaries of what she served for luncheons and dinner parties. Dorothy’s little black book  was discovered when the kitchen was renovated for the Junior League of High Point Showhouse. Her entries from the 1930s give delightful insights into what was popular (remember tomato aspic salad?) and the careful thought that went into those events.

  • Peter Rymwid

    Vibrant Space

    Black-and-white dog-motif fabrics on pillows are a shout-out (bark-out?) to Dorothy’s son, Randall Terry Jr., who lived in the house with his nine dogs.

     Wallcovering is an extra-fine blue sisal from Thibaut. “Rodeo”  leather chairs and the “Soho” banquette with “It’s All Greek” indoor-outdoor fabric are from CR Laine, and the “Dian” table is from French Heritage. “Kate” table lamps are by Alexa Hampton from Circa Lighting, and the bookcase is from Somerset Bay Home. The chandelier is from Currey & Co.

    Watch Lisa Mende talk about her kitchen design:

  • Peter Rymwid


    Designer Lisa Mende totally reorganized and transformed the kitchen, breakfast area, and dog-themed mudroom of the 1912 Terry House for the High Point Showhouse. Her vision included new flooring, cabinets, appliances, counter surfaces, plumbing fixtures, lighting, and amazing new decor more fitting to the vintage structure than the previous 1980s remodeling. 

    Wallpaper (“Coco”/Mademoiselle, Deco Collection): Cotton & Quill,
    Trim paint (“Black” #25-17): Pratt & Lambert,
    Cabinet design (by Melonie Plotkowski): March Kitchens,
    Cabinetry (“Summerfield”/Onyx): Marsh Furniture,
    Hardware (“Equestrian Knob” #32878464); wall hooks (“Equestrian Wall Hook” #32873861): Anthropologie,
    Cushion and back fabric (“Elsie”/Regency, Regency Collection): Cotton & Quill,
    Pillow and trim on cushion (“Nixon”/Lemongrass, discontinued): CR Laine,
    Area rug (“Catamaran Stripe”/Sprout, Ivory, by Annie Selke): Dash& Albert,
    Flooring (from 8x10-foot wide plank White Oak prefinished, with Custom Amber Matte, and finished with soft wire brush): Carlisle Wide Plank Floors,
    Dog bed (“Lounge Dog Bed” in “Buffalo Check”/Black #AU015); dog-food container (“Bon Chien Food Canister” #AU010); dog bowl (discontinued): Ballard Designs,
    Dog sketch on door (custom dog portraits by Becky Clodfelter): Lisa Mende Design,

  • Dustin Peck