Art of the Kitchen: Verandas, Wilmington NC
When the pink-orange walls in the kitchen need a refresh, and the kitchen faucet isn’t doing its job, it’s time for a kitchen update. If your home is a AAA 4-Diamond Award inn on the National Registry of Historic Places, the project is both an undertaking of necessity and of love.
“I love artwork, and the kitchen really didn’t have any art, so I decided on a neutral wall color and I planned to integrate some of my favorite pieces of artwork,” says Chuck Pennington, owner of Verandas in Wilmington NC. “I spend so much time in the kitchen cooking. I want to surround myself with beautiful things. Everything in the kitchen should have some style to it.”
Chuck spends eight or nine hours in the kitchen. When the house is full of guests, he often has to spend a couple hours in the kitchen the evening before, and then at least 6 hours in the kitchen the next morning, with a 5am start. Guests are not supposed to come into the kitchen, but often they do. With those two facts in mind, the kitchen renovation had to result in a space that was extremely functional, and that was beautiful in the spirit of the rest of the home. “The kitchen has to be fun, and the kitchen has to be organized,” asserts Chuck.
On the Materials
The appliances are stainless steel because it can be cleaned and polished to a professional shine. From the dual gas ranges to the giant double refrigerator, the stainless steel in Chuck’s kitchen is slick and contemporary, but fits easily into the historic aura of Verandas.
Chuck eschews granite countertops in favor of Formica, because antique china, he points out, doesn’t fare well with granite. China breaks and chips on granite, especially when moving as many dishes in and out as quickly as a bread and breakfast does on a busy morning. Formica is softer; Chuck plans the next upgrade will be to the Formica countertops that look like slate. The Moen faucet didn’t fit under the windowsill until it was actually installed it, and after the pieces were set into the sink, it barely cleared the sill.
On the Art
The painting above the microwave is a copy of Bernard Buffet’s “Blue Roses,” painted by Chuck. The John Zimmerman above the side table anchors the kitchen’s new grey and blue neutral color palette, and is hung so that it can be admired by guests seated across the hallway at the dining table.
The sculpture on the built-in hutch is by Dennis, Chuck’s late partner. Fabric for the custom valances is from Fabric Solutions. The valance above the kitchen sink didn’t fit because of the height of the windows when they were opened, but when something doesn’t work in a historic room, notes Chuck, you can often find the solution by going the opposite direction. Instead of remaking the valance, it was moved forward and re-installed.
The shade on the large side window is a custom Hunter Douglas with gears. The huge window gets morning sun so the textured shade was designed with a black-out UV lining, and lined in white. The shade was a smart investment; it makes a tremendous amount of difference in the heat in the kitchen.
Above the dishwasher, the small painting, “Pulling in the Whales” is a visual surprise. It’s an unusual place to put artwork, but it works because the piece is boldly graphic.
On the Antiques
On the table is a giant antique wooden bowls, dating from the mid-1800s, that belonged to Dennis’ grandmother. It was used for bread making. The leaded glass window was sourced to go over a door in the hallway, but when Chuck and Dennis found a door that worked better in the hallway, they painted the window, put chains on it and hung it sideways in the kitchen. At different times of the year, with different times of days, the sun refracts different ways through the glass.
Why have silver candlesticks in the kitchen? “Why not,” says Chuck.
It’s touches like the candlesticks, silver spoons in a compote glass, and tea towels brought back as souvenirs from European vacations that make the kitchen at Verandas an artful environment.