Story: Diane Carroll |
As a young girl helping her mother prepare meals in the kitchen of her family’s new home in Little Rock’s Heights neighborhood, Jane Fraiser could hardly have imagined that she would one day stand in the same space and cook with her own grandchildren. Yet six decades later, that’s exactly what happens on a regular basis, as Jane and her husband, Dr. Lacy Fraiser, welcome their children and their two grandsons into the 1947 cottage that has always remained in Jane’s family.
Lifelong Little Rock residents, the Fraisers opted to return to Jane’s childhood home as empty-nesters, enticed by the cottage’s manageable size and friendly neighborhood. Less enticing, however, was its near-original-condition kitchen, which contained a tiny cooking area and a utility room. “We knew we’d have to renovate the kitchen into a more usable area if this house was going to work for us,” says Jane. “It was so small and closed off from the other rooms, and we envisioned an open space where we could all be together.”
Working with Yeary Lindsey Architects, they devised a plan to turn the existing cooking space, utility area and back doorway into one enlarged kitchen. As an avid cook, Jane knew that creating work zones was essential as well. “I love to cook and I cook frequently, so I needed a functional, organized kitchen and a place where my grandsons could join me too,” she adds.
The resulting design features a center island with a sink and an integral microwave oven, an ideal prep space where Jane has an open view into the adjacent family room and where her two grandsons can pull up bar stools and have a snack or join in the fun. A long wall of cabinets behind the island holds a pair of ovens, a range and a refrigerator, serving as the main working area of the room, while an alcove overlooking the backyard boasts an additional sink and pantry areas.
When it came to materials and finishes, years of gathering ideas from design magazines had given Jane a firm idea of the style she desired. “We wanted to stick with the cottage character of the house,” says Jane, “and select materials that were appropriate for the time period in which it was built.” Wood cabinets with a painted white finish were a top priority for keeping the room bright and fresh, and new hardwood floors helped tie the renovated space together with the original parts of the house. For further authenticity, the Fraisers used antique bricks as a backsplash, with a light coating of mortar to soften the color and blend with the cabinetry.
Furniture-style detailing on the cabinets and island evoke architectural elements throughout the house, and the island was finished in natural wood tones as a transition to the colors used in the family room. “Plus, it’s my grandsons’ favorite place to sit and we didn’t want anyone to worry about shoe scuff marks or other things like that,” says Jane, ever mindful of the needs of multiple generations gathering in her family home.
Architect Yeary Lindsey Architects, Little Rock
Contractor Tony Martin Associates, North Little Rock
Appliances Metro Builders Supply, North Little Rock
Backsplash Antique Brick & Block, Little Rock
Cabinetry J&S Cabinet Concepts Inc., Benton
Counters Arkansas Granite & More, Benton
Faucets Southern Pipe & Supply, Benton
Flooring Chenal Professional Hardwood, Little Rock