Cooks' paradise

Catch the latest trends at Parenthesis' 20th Annual Kitchen Walk

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Parenthesis Parent Child Center is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and its primary fundraiserâ€"the Annual Kitchen Walkâ€"has been around almost as long. This Saturday, April 30, the 20th kitchen walk will give the curious a chance to see 10 of the newest and trendiest kitchens in Oak Park and River Forest.

The kitchen walk is the "granddaddy" of fundraisers, says Parenthesis Executive Director Kathy Kern. "It's been a phenomenal success and is a lifesaver for us, literally."

Parenthesis, located at 405 S. Euclid Ave., offers parenting education and support services to families with young children, including a morning drop-in program that typically serves about 100 families a year, and programs for teen and single parents. Kern is particularly excited about a new postpartum depression support group that started in September.

"Postpartum depression is so threatening and harmful to women. We need to acknowledge and treat it more," says Kern, who notes that very few if any other organizations in the area provide such support.

Although specific programs are funded by government and other community resources, money raised from the kitchen walk goes into Parenthesis' general operating fund. "There's always a shortfall. Kitchen walk dollars wrap into the money we need to support our many programs, pay our administrative costs and help support research for new ideas and programs," Kern explains.

Tina Lewis is chairing the event. Secretary of the board of directors, Lewis began volunteering with Parenthesis after participating in the morning drop-in program as a new mom. She confesses to "loving kitchens."

"There's such a variety of styles in this community. It's such a fun place to look inside homes and kitchens," she says.

Last August, designers and contractors submitted kitchens remodeled within the year for consideration for this Saturday's kitchen walk. A selection committee visited them all and picked 10. It's a hard choice, since "they're all over the top, all great," says Lewis. "We look for the trendy stuffâ€"beyond beautiful."

Trends to look for this year, she adds, are a move away from dark woods to white (five of the kitchens this year feature white cabinetry), and the use of a variety of different materials within a kitchen.

Parenthesis' surveys have shown that a healthy percentage of those who go on the kitchen walk are considering remodeling their own kitchens. So designers will be present and available to discuss their work through the day. The guidebook is also "a very strong resource," says Lewis. "Materials, contractors, designers, appliances, cabinets, flooringâ€"everything in every kitchen is there, with contact information."

For those with more questions, there will be a designers forum after the walk, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Pleasant Home, 217 S. Home Ave. A panel of five of the featured designers will present additional work they've done and discuss their design philosophies. Tickets are $10 at the door.

Two from Stoffer

River Forest designer Jean Stoffer has had her award-winning kitchens on the kitchen walk in the past. This year she has two very different kitchens featured, but they share upcoming national exposure. Beth and Jim McClanahan's River Forest kitchen will appear in the September/October 2005 Kitchen and Bath issue of House Beautiful Magazine. And Lauren and Russell Kozak's kitchen, also in River Forest, will be in the December 2005 issue of Home magazine.

The two kitchens are "totally differentâ€"different sides of the universe," says Stoffer, owner of Jean Stoffer Design. The McClanahans "love France and wanted to replicate the colors, textures, layering concept, fabrics" of the French countyside, she explains.

This kitchen, doubled in size by a new addition, is loaded with details: aged paint, hickory floors, ornate niches with quilted tiles and strips of red onyx, hand-chiseled mosaic, a cushy window seat. In keeping with the current trend, Stoffer used a number of different materials, including burled elm drawer bases on either side of the range, Pyrolave countertops (volcanic rock enameled with a pigmentâ€"very durable and easy to care for), a walnut cabinet for the apron-front sink. There are varying styles of drawer pulls and knobs, and red-painted doors serve as fronts for refrigeration units and pantry space.

"Mixing materials gives a kitchen more of an accumulated-over-time look," explains Stoffer.

"We really designed this kitchen so it could be a family room. The window seat has soft seating, there's a homework desk, places to perch off the island. The family really uses it," she says.

The Kozak kitchen, designed for a photographer and art director couple who do catalog shoots in sunny climates, is more casual. The owners wanted "a warm feelingâ€"like being at the beach," says Stoffer.

That feeling was achieved with white painted cabinetry, pale, sand-colored walls, faux limestone, honed quartz countertops (actually Caesarstone, an unstainable material that doesn't need to be sealed), a khaki-colored island and white crackled subway tile.

To keep a streamlined look, there are no window treatments or fabrics. Storage space is provided by a huge, glass-fronted breakfront recessed into the wall.

A dark-stained walnut floor, inspired by the floor in the home's dining room, "anchors the whole kitchen," says Stoffer. "It keeps it from flying away."

Step into the kitchen walk

Along with the two Stoffer-designed kitchens, eight addition kitchens are showcased during Saturday's kitchen walk:

• Remodeled within the footprint of an 1887 Victorian kitchen, this contemporary, workable space retains the charm of a country kitchen. Design elements include bead-board walls, cabinets aged with a linen wash, biscuit-colored subway tiles, sage walls, Indian green slate counters and Travertine stone flooring.

• The clean and uncluttered lines of this contemporary kitchen are "serene, calm and all about peace," says Lewis. Stainless steel appliances and slab front, mahogany cabinets with plain stainless steel pulls contribute to the minimalist look. And unlike some of the other kitchens on the walk, this one was done on a budgetâ€""not astronomical and met," according to Lewis.

• This sophisticated French kitchen is highlighted by an espresso and coffee bar and a floor made from squares of red and gold commercial-grade linoleum. A wall that separated the kitchen and dining rooms was removed, creating a larger space that now includes a center island. Countertops feature yellow limestone and soapstone.

• All kinds of gadgets are available for use in this oversized, state-of-the-art kitchen, including a deep fryer, vegetable steamer, warming drawer and multiple sinks and dishwashers. New materials are complemented by antique, wide-plank pine floors, windows milled from old gym bleachers and an ice box original to the home.

• The kitchen in this Prairie home designed by John Van Bergen in 1914 retains its original footprint. Shallow pantry cabinets, a narrow 27-inch refrigerator and a small granite counter that extends from the wall to accommodate four stools maximize use of the space. Prairie-style details include oak flooring and quarter-sawn oak cabinetry.

• Lewis describes this Country French kitchen as "the most colorful on the walk," with its mix of blues, teals, yellows and reds. The large, multipurpose, bead-board island houses a wine cooler, microwave and refrigerator. A wall cupboard displays the homeowner's collection of colorful Quimper pottery.

• The white cabinetry in this traditional, white-on-white kitchen is offset by brown walls and a center island with cherry cabinets in a walnut stain. Large black and white marble floor tiles tie the space to the adjoining dining room. A built-in window seat overlooks the backyard.

• The homeowners based the renovation and expansion of this kitchen in their 1897 Victorian to an original design element: a quarter-sawn oak breakfront in the dining room with a pass-through to the kitchen. All of the wood in the kitchen was milled to replicate this cabinet. Other age-appropriate features include a large island with soapstone counters and a marble-topped baking station.

Again this year, The Perfect Dinner, 809 South Blvd., will be serving complementary refreshments and beverages to ticketholders during the walk.

The 20th Annual Kitchen Walk is Saturday, April 30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $35 in advance, and can be ordered by calling 848-2227 or online at Pick up or purchase tickets for $40 on Saturday at Parenthesis, 405 S. Euclid Ave.

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