Take a family with three growing teens. Mix in a shared love of cooking. Combine in a circa-1985 kitchen remodel that was showing its age. Finish with two black Newfoundlands weighing in at 140 and 102 pounds.
“It was time,” says Dr. David Bowlin, as he and his wife, Joan, recall cabinet doors that were falling off, leaky pipes, and an oven that needed to be replaced. A remodel also provided the chance to improve the usability of the adjacent mudroom, which was nearly impassable when dogs Wilson and Mayzie greeted the family at the door amidst a jumble of shoes.
The Bowlins enlisted architect Jean Rehkamp Larson, principal of Rehkamp Larson Architects in Minneapolis, to create a cook’s dream kitchen. They added a steam oven, a six-burner Wolf range, and two separate sinks. The family insists they use it all: Joan or their 17-year-old daughter might bake in the steam oven while David is cooking in the other. One of them frequently uses the sliding cutting board on the prep sink while another member of the family washes dishes at the primary sink.
Below: The kitchen before the remodel.
By bumping out the back wall 5 feet in the kitchen and stealing a bit from the family room to expand the mudroom, Rehkamp Larson also improved circulation within and between rooms. The Bowlins decided to eliminate a step-down eating area, opting instead for an expansive granite island. The uninterrupted area provides space to prep dinner, which they cook at home nearly every night. A bonus: They now fully use the adjacent dining room.
The couple agrees that the new layout makes prep and cooking far easier. Rehkamp Larson tucked a pantry with a sliding pocket door in the wall adjoining the dining room and put the passageway along the island to work with a custom pot rack that is backed with custom-fired North Prairie tile. The tile and other aesthetic details were guided by Rehkamp Larson and project architect Sarah Nymo.
Rehkamp Larson describes the tile’s stamped design as a wallpaper-like detail that acknowledges the home’s existing balance of tradition and decoration. “It’s simple with occasional flourishes,” she explains. The industrial pendant lights also express the homeowner’s no-nonsense style but bring detail into a decorative band around the drum. While many of the elements were selected for the cooks, the paint accommodates the dogs: Blue on the lower cabinets is more forgiving than white would be.
“We absolutely love it,” says Joan. “It’s really functional, and it’s so pretty to look at.”
By Diane L. Cormany
Photos by Ken Gutmake
Architect: Rehkamp Larson Architects
Builder: Full Circle Construction