Fun and Functional
Joey Hewell and Scott Lindsley of Linwell Farms redesign the kitchen of their century-old home
On a recent Sunday, Joey Hewell and Scott Lindsley spent the day with friends cooking and experimenting. They had purchased some fresh conch at the NoDa Farmers Market — which Joey oversees across the street from their home — and were determined to cook it right. Hewell took over one area of the countertop, trimming and cutting the conch. Lindsley was at another corner cutting tomatoes, onion, and garlic from their extensive raised-bed garden in the backyard. Another friend was at the drink-making station.
It was a lot of activity for one kitchen. But days like this are exactly what this space is designed for.
Hewell and Lindsley moved into the circa-1910 home in NoDa two and a half years ago. The house underwent a renovation around 2005. It was livable. But it wasn't their style. Hewell, who enjoys interior design, worked with John Littlefield, a friend with extensive experience in kitchen renovation, to turn the spacious kitchen into a fun, functional space.
The room was painted dark gray, so Hewell and Lindsley painted the whole room (including the adjoining living area) white to brighten it. They picked out the white, beveled subway tile early on, too. The border tiles around the top give the room an upper limit, making it feel more cozy than cavernous, which can happen with such tall ceilings. The black grout was a pain to finish — wiping every smudge from the white surface — but it's a nice contrast and ties in the other black elements of the room. Hewell and Littlefield constructed the cabinets around the refrigerator, which was all dead space before. Cookbooks are stored on the open top shelf. Hewell and Lindsley found the blue cabinet at the Metrolina Tradeshow Expo; it functions as their pantry. Hewell discovered the metal stools, a little shorter than barstools, at Sleepy Poet Antique Mall.
Hewell and Lindsley replaced the appliances after moving in. The old stove hood wasn't properly vented, so during the renovation, they cut a hole in the roof and installed a new hood to better account for their Five Star range. Hewell built the table out of reclaimed wood to replace a smaller island. He found the two large pendant lights online and knew immediately they would suit the space. Recessed lights throughout and three pendant lights over the sink — which Hewell outfitted with cage coverings — add extra brightness.
Before the tiles and shelving could be put onto the walls, the walls had to be reinforced to hold all of the weight. That process included installing the bars that hold the shelves. They are so strong now that Littlefield actually stood on one to reach something on the ceiling. The wood for the shelves came out of an old dairy barn. Hewell liked the look of the weathered, white paint, so he left it original. The countertops were installed earlier to match the color of the old cabinets, but they work in this space, too. The "leathered" granite is textured and tough. They can cut vegetables directly on the countertops if they want without scratching them.
The left corner of the kitchen is the designated baking station. It's near the window for good light and right beside the sink. The bars under the shelving are magnetic, so recipes can be clipped in a readable position out of the way of spills. The top shelf is a good place for homemade kombucha, kimchee, and sauerkraut to sit undisturbed.
Looking back on the project, Hewell (pictured here with dogs Bamboo and Tiki) is thankful he and Lindsley were flexible and allowed things to come together piece by piece. The working space now accommodates their daily use, big Sunday cooking experiments, and laid-back lifestyle.
"Some houses, you walk in and feel like you can't touch anything," Hewell says. "Here, you can relax and have fun. This is as easy (going) as it can get."