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Pretty, Functional Kitchen for a Foodie
A professional foodie and her interior designer blend function and fancy
When Arlene Mead tests recipes, she is meticulous. Every ingredient is carefully measured, cooking times calculated down to the minute, and oven temperatures closely monitored. The chef, recipe developer and tester, food stylist, and cookbook author was just as thoughtful when she designed her new Dallas kitchen.
Arlene mapped out work zones (baking, prep, and coffee station) to maximize efficiency. She researched ovens (she has four!) and other appliances that would meet her needs. And because she teaches cooking classes at her home, accommodating a center “performance” island with counter seating was a factor. But just because Arlene is a serious cook doesn’t mean she has to work in a sterile, institutional kitchen.
“The house is very cottage-y, and I have a lot of antiques and collections. I wanted the kitchen to look vintage,” Arlene says. For that, she turned to Dallas interior designer Dawn Bergan, who had helped her with other house projects.
Bergan started with a bold move-—painting the island base red. “I knew she loved red. She is not afraid of color, which is fun,” Bergan says. Perimeter cabinets are a soft green, and all were custom-made and finished by a decorative painter who painted, glazed, and then rubbed “wear spots” for an aged-looking surface. Door and drawer fronts have decorative peg fasteners that replicate old-time construction. “They look like they’re 150 years old,” Arlene says.
Photography: Emily Minton Redfield
Produced by Jenny O’Connor
Architect: David Stocker, Stocker Hoesterey Montenegro Architects, PLLC, 4514 Travis St., Suite 302, Dallas, TX 75205; 214/252-3830, shmarchitects.com.
Interior designer: Dawn Bergan, Corley Design Associates, 909 Dragon St., Dallas, TX 75207; 214/742-6767, davidcorley.com.
Kitchen design consultant and recipe developer: Arlene Mead, arlenestylesfood.com.
Builder: Martin Raymond Homes, 17440 Dallas Pkwy, Dallas, TX 75287; 972/380-8882, martinraymondhomes.com.
The kitchen is centered on the red island with its six-burner gas cooktop and a prep sink. Up to six stools fit around the island so students or guests can observe and chat while Arlene is cooking.
Above the island hangs a brushed stainless-steel hood with zinc straps and a brass rail for hanging Arlene’s “pretty pots.” The hood was installed at the maximum height recommended for venting to ensure it didn’t block views to and from the kitchen, Bergan says.
While the island is topped with butcher block, perimeter countertops are an unpolished greenish granite that resembles soapstone. “I love soapstone, but it’s too porous,” Arlene explains. “The unpolished granite really gives the look but is more durable.” One of Arlene’s favorite details is a shallow depression carved into the granite in the baking zone to corral rolling eggs.
For the backsplash, Bergan found patchwork-inspired tiles and set them in a neutral travertine field. “I told Dawn I wanted something quilt-like but sophisticated,” Arlene says. “She nailed it. I love those tiles.” Floors and beams are reclaimed lumber from the Appalachian Mountains, which age the new house as well.
Function was always part of the planning, too. The oven in the baking zone heats as low as 80ºF, ideal for proofing bread. On the opposite wall is an oven with high-heat capabilities, up to 525ºF, for baking pizzas and searing meats.
While the ovens are exposed, other appliances are integrated into cabinetry, enhancing the vintage style of the room. For example, handy dishwasher drawers are located on the right of the sink, with refrigerator drawers concealed on the left side. Arlene’s family antiques, as well as ones she and Bergan found on shopping trips, add to the warmth-—assisted by the enticing aromas of Arlene’s baking. “I love working there. The kitchen has a cozy vintage feeling,” Arlene says. “It’s exactly the feeling I wanted.”
The baking zone on the right side of the kitchen has a convection oven (for bread), a microwave, and a warming drawer, all by Wolf. On the opposite wall are a steam oven and a high-heat convection oven, both by Miele.
Cabinetry paint (“Salisbury Green” #HC-139, with custom glaze and distressed); island paint (“Watermelon Red” #2087-20): Benjamin Moore, benjaminmoore.com.
Fabric in cabinet doors: discontinued.
Cabinetry knobs (“Round Knob” #117, with Backplate #CKB.FS); cabinetry pulls (“Tapered Pull” #1350): Ashley Norton Architectural Hardware, ashleynorton.com.
Perimeter countertop: honed Berkshire granite.
Island countertop (butcher block): Boos Bros., johnboos.com.
Backsplash (tumbled travertine 4x4-inch tiles, “Dorado”; 2x2-inch accent dots, and “Tapestry,” both discontinued): Antique Floors, antiquefloors.net.
Hardwood floors; beams: Mountain Lumber Co., mountainlumber.com.
Counter stools; counter stool fabric: discontinued.
Window treatment (“Serena”/White ): Cowtan & Tout, cowtan.com.
Hood: Handcrafted Metal, handcraftedmetal.com.
Red bowl: Sur La Table, surlatable.com.
Cooktop; ovens in baking area at right (top, convection microwave; center, convection oven; bottom, warming drawers): Wolf, subzero-wolf.com.
Refrigerator; freezer drawers; refrigerator drawers to left of sink: Sub-Zero, subzero-wolf.com.
Ovens beside refrigerator (top, steam oven, bottom, oven): Miele, mieleusa.com.
A custom cabinet with an aged finish houses the Miele coffee system and a stainless-steel drawer for warming cups and mugs.
Coffee system and cup warming drawer: Miele, mieleusa.com.
Cabinetry knobs (“Round Knob” #117, with Backplate #CKB.FS);: Ashley Norton Architectural Hardware, ashleynorton.com.
Sconces: owner’s collection.
Glass-front doors display candies appropriate to the holiday season. During other times of the year, the drawers hold dry beans and pastas.
Cabinetry hardware (“Cup Pull 1700”): Ashley Norton Architectural Hardware, ashleynorton.com.
Red seed canisters: vintage.
Four shallow open shelves built into the back of the island and adjacent to the cooktop keep spices handy when Arlene is cooking.
A hidden pull-up shelf in the baking zone keeps the heavy stand mixer easily accessible. Mixing bowls are stored beneath the shelf.
Ready to Roll
Vintage rolling pins are ready to work, stored in cubbies at the baking zone. A shallow divot carved into the granite counter keeps eggs in place.
Custom Cutting Board
A wood cutting board extends from under the counter. The board lifts out for cleaning, and there is space underneath it to store other boards.
Pumpkin Butterscotch Cake
Arlene Mead’s butterscotch twist on a classic Bundt cake is a homey company favorite. Click here for the recipe.
An island cooktop allows Arlene Mead to face guests seated around the island’s hard rock maple top. Arlene teaches cooking classes and develops recipes, including one for the pumpkin spice cake on the cake stand.