Kitchen Kapers

14th Annual Kitchen Kapers Tour

Five Fabulous Designer Kitchens

by Maggie Wolff Peterson
photos by Lauri Bridgeforth

This will be the fourteenth year for Kitchen Kapers, a fundraiser that came about for Winchester’s Quota Club after one of its members attended a similar event in Ohio. This year’s event is Sunday, Sept. 21, from 1 to 5 p.m., and includes five designer kitchens.

Each year, the club determines which non-profit organizations will receive the proceeds. This year’s Kitchen Kapers will benefit Special Love, an organization for children with cancer that organizes family events as well as Camp Fantastic, a summer camp in Front Royal, Va. Tickets for the event are $20 in advance and $25 the day of the event, and are available at Kimberly’s and Simply Charming in downtown Winchester, and The Daily Grind on Jubal Early Drive. Also, PayPal is an option. Click on and follow the links.

At each of the five houses on the tour, local vendors will offer a taste of their wares. These include Valerie Hill Winery in Stephens City, Va.; eM Restaurant in Old Town Winchester; The Cookie Guy in Berryville, Va., I.J. Cann’s in Winchester’s Creekside Station and Cajun Experience, the restaurant at the restored Taylor Hotel on Winchester’s Loudoun Street Mall. At each house, a door prize also will be awarded.

Additionally, several retailers in Winchester have agreed to donate a portion of their receipts to Kitchen Kapers. “It’s a portion of their sales for a certain time in the day,” says Linda Vickers, event co-chair.

“Whatever they sell, they give us a percentage.”

Vickers, a Winchester native, says that finding houses to include in Kitchen Kapers means relying on referrals. “Word of mouth, and people I have met over the years,” says Vickers.

1. Niessner Kitchen

When you’ve been in as many homes as Marty Niessner, you get a good idea of what you like. Niessner, principal of 41 Construction LLC in Winchester, has renovated a lot of kitchens. He’s torn down walls, constructed islands, installed countertops, hung lighting. He’s helped homeowners through the thicket of selecting which surfaces, appliances, flooring, fixtures and cabinetry makes the best sense for their aesthetic and budget. He’s seen drab kitchens become dramatic ones.

So when he first laid eyes on the mid-century brick home in Winchester’s Whittier Acres (910 Isaac Street), he saw the bones of a good house. What he and his wife, Beth, have done with it goes beyond updating. The interior is now an architectural statement: an open floor plan on the main level that centers on a floating fireplace and focuses on the kitchen.

The remodel took a year. Nearly every interior wall on the main level was removed, and the position of the kitchen was flipped from one end of the house to the other. Gone was the enclosed, dated space with a single window over the sink. Now a rear wall of windows faces the back yard, where a large patio invites outdoor dining when the weather is right.

“It was a little closed in, and all cut-up before,” says Marty. The current kitchen boasts granite countertops, fir paneling and floor-to-ceiling cherry cabinetry that allows space to stash everything.

Before pull-out shelves were installed, Beth Niessner drew schematics of each, listing exactly what each shelf would hold. From vitamin bottles to serving pieces, every item was noted. Under the glass cook top in the kitchen island is a cabinet fitted for saucepan lids, with an adjacent pull-out shelf for the pans themselves. Everything has a place.

“You don’t see anything,” she says. “It just disappears.”

In addition to the kitchen island, an L-shaped counter provides space for the Neissner’s four boys to eat, play cards or drop their backpacks after school. A large round dining table, placed in what was once the living room, takes advantage of light from a significant bay window that retains its vintage framing. Additional lighting comes from pendant fixtures in the kitchen and dining area.

2. Spangler Kitchen

Updating was also behind the remodel at the Winchester home of Sue and Jim Spangler (139 Roszel Road), in the Handley Heights neighborhood. What had been a dark galley kitchen with pine paneling and a built-in corner banquette with a kidney-shaped Formica table, is now lighter and more open. The Spanglers partially demolished a wall between the kitchen and dining room to create not only an arched pass-through, but also a conversation bar to allow entertaining to flow between the spaces. “It opens it up, and you feel like you’re more up-to-date,” Sue Spangler says.

Doing so meant giving up an entire upper wall of cabinetry. Spangler decided the loss was worth the gain. She went through all of her mixing bowls, service pieces and the kitchen tools acquired over a lifetime, kept only what was absolutely necessary, and gave most of the rest to the thrift store.

“We really tried to streamline,” she says.

The kitchen now marries vintage with modern. Gone is the pine paneling, that Spangler says was “dark, just dark,” but the walls now display framed antique canning labels for tomatoes and string beans from a family farm in Hollins, Va., as well as vintage magazine advertising pages. And while the banquette was removed and replaced with a round, farmhouse table, it was not discarded. The Spanglers gave it to The Butcher Station, a restaurant and market in Winchester.

Eighteen years ago, when the Spanglers moved into the 1954 house, they were only its second residents. The linoleum floor, Formica surfaces and original pine cabinetry that was constructed onsite for the kitchen felt familiar to Sue Spangler, who grew up in a home of similar vintage. “It was 1954 perfection,” she says.

An initial update kept the cabinets and paneling, and the banquette bench was reupholstered. But this time, the Spanglers took it all the way. A creamy white subway-tile backsplash replaces walls painted lemon yellow. Black granite countertops sit above new cherry cabinets. “We gutted the entire kitchen,” Spangler says. “The kitchen went from country to more elegant.”

3. Quarles Kitchen

The home that Kathleen and Billy Quarles occupy in Winchester’s Meadow Branch subdivision (1022 Heth Place) is stunning before a visitor even steps inside. Included more than once in Winchester’s garden tour, it features a two-story entrance, flanked by benches and tall planters, while the back yard includes a tumbling, landscaped waterfall feature and an in-ground pool.

The kitchens – there are two – support entertaining at the home, which Kathleen Quarles says is something they like to do. “This was a closet,” she says, pointing to a built-in wet bar that services a large family room adjacent to the kitchen. “We hold a huge Christmas party here every year.”

The kitchen was remodeled and the center island repositioned to improve space and flow. A double oven, gas cooktop and pantry closet were added. Corian countertops feature an inset stripe in aqua, a color which is reflected in the room’s upholstery and curtains. The walls feature handpainted images of flowers and butterflies behind the cook top and a side service counter. Cherry cabinetry covers the appliances “to make it match,” says Quarles.

Visitors might also want to sneak a peek into the dining room and living room, furnished by family antiques. A stunning, large, round table grounds the dining space, while in the living room, an unusual upholstered settee faces a severe, tall wing chair that Quarles says was her husband’s “time out” chair when he was a child. “It’s an uncomfortable chair,” she says.

4. Mason Kitchen

Two separate renovations updated the kitchen at the home of Ellen and Pat Mason (512 Courtfield Avenue), with the most recent being the most extensive. The original kitchen in the 1938 brick colonial was a slender galley, which was expanded in 1983 into space originally used as an enclosed porch.

There’s nothing left of that now. It took a year to remake the kitchen as it appears today. “There was a lot to tear out,” Ellen Mason says. Now a large kitchen island anchors the space, which is open to a windowed breakfast area as well as a family room. Because the house sits on a hillside, the breakfast room offers views at treetop level, as well as a good look at the terraced garden below. Mason says she first conceived of the space as more of a screened porch, but architects Reader and Swartz of Winchester designed the space for year-round use, with a peaked beadboard ceiling, a ceiling fan and windows on three sides.

Custom details include pendant lights for which colored glass shades were hand-blown by an artisan from the Glen Echo arts park in Washington, D.C. Additional lighting comes from can lights inset around a tray ceiling. Cherry cabinetry was Amish-made. Pull drawers allow easy access to cookware. A double sink in the kitchen island is matched with another in a separate workspace, that is outfitted as a wet bar. There are granite countertops throughout.

A five-burner cooktop is flanked by a stainless-steel side-by-side refrigerator/ freezer and a wall oven/microwave combination. But Mason says that her favorite feature is a warming oven, inset in a drawer that pulls from under the cook top. The tile floor throughout the kitchen and breakfast room is warmed by electric heaters beneath, controlled in two zones. When the kitchen is hot from cooking, it is possible to heat the floor in the breakfast room independently.

A single stool at the end of the island is dedicated to the Masons’ 9-year-old granddaughter, who loves to help cook. Elsewhere in the kitchen is an 1820 cherry armoire, atop which is displayed a Delftstyle cannister set that belonged to Mason’s mother. A walnut sewing table in the breakfast room also came from Mason’s mother.

5. Strosnyder Kitchen

The kitchen in Don Strosnyder’s apartment offers granite countertops and matching stainless steel appliances, which Strosnyder admits he barely uses. As a resident of the recently restored Taylor Hotel, Strosnyder is walking distance from more than a halfdozen restaurants, including the Cajun Experience, that occupies the bottom two floors of his own building. “Since I’m downtown, I can walk everywhere,” he says. “It’s cheaper for me to eat out than to cook.”

Perhaps the best feature of the kitchen is its door, which opens to a wide front porch that runs the length of Strosnyder’s apartment. Up three stories from the pedestrian mall, it offers both privacy and a view. Strosnyder has outfitted it with a seating area, a small dining table, a bar and two rocking chairs.

Inside, an antique pedestal table seats four, under a Tiffany lamp that Strosnyder installed. Nearby, an antique icebox provides storage. Pendant lighting provides illumination over the sink, and there is abundant cabinetry. A glass flattop range is situated in the center of the workspace. The kitchen is open to the living room, which Strosnyder has furnished with a combination of comfortable seating and antique décor.

Author: Brian

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