Bright, airy League City kitchen is designed for cooks, but not clutter
On Sunday mornings, Ken Horne rises early and starts gathering items from the kitchen pantry and refrigerator for brunch.
“Breakfast tacos are my specialty, but I often cook to order for everybody,” he said. “I might make pancakes for one, a breakfast sandwich for another, or an omelet for someone else — whatever they want— it doesn’t faze me. I’m a morning person, so as the family lazily descends the stairs, I take their orders.”
Horne’s wife, Bevin, and their older daughter, Sarah, usually are late arrivals, but their younger daughter, Caroline, is a morning person, too, he said.
The Hornes spend a lot more time in their League City kitchen these days since a recent renovation that also included the adjoining living room.
“I had a Pinterest board of items I liked, and our designer, Jennifer Kizzee, incorporated them into the project,” Bevin said. “We took everything down to the studs and started from scratch.”
The house, built in 2009, was in relatively good shape, but the kitchen and living room needed updates, they said.
“Everything was dark brown — the cabinets, floors, tile, granite — plus two small islands and built-in columns made everything cramped,” Ken said. “It had to go.”
The transformed kitchen is bright, white, roomy and functional.
A 9-by-5-foot island replaced the two small ones. Calacatta Verona quartz — soft white with subtle veins — was installed atop the island and countertops. New rattan bar stools complement the island base painted a soft blue gray.
Satin brass hardware pops against Shaker-style custom-built cabinets and built-in drawers painted Snowbound by Sherwin-Williams. They’re attractive and also roomy enough to house small appliances and other kitchen necessities.
“I grew up in a home where my parents had everything atop the countertops, but we are minimalists, so we wanted everything out of sight,” Ken said. “Bevin has an entire cabinet for her KitchenAid mixer, and all her baking needs. The dishwasher and trash/recycle bins are hidden behind their separate cabinet doors, as is my Jura coffee maker, microwave, toaster, blender — everything — so we have lots of storage space now.”
About the only thing you’ll see is something sentimental to Bevin, she said.
“My niece took my grandmother’s handwritten recipe for Fancy Icebox Cake and made it into a cutting board,” she said. “I have it on display to remind me of her.”
All appliances are Sub-Zero brands, but the Wolf stove with custom-built curved range hood is a showstopper. A backsplash of denim gloss subway tiles, with an insert of shiny, white hexagonal mosaic tiles, makes the perfect backdrop for the wall-mounted pot filler faucet.
“I cook a lot of pasta, so that faucet is a time-saver,” Bevin said.
White Oak hardwood floors took the place of dark tiles. A separate pantry designed by Kizzee was custom-built with white oak wood, then stained.
Light fixtures include two wooden, white-washed chandeliers above the island and a shell incandescent beach-style pendant light above the breakfast table.
The adjoining living room got its own makeover as well, which included a new fireplace with marble mosaic hearth tiles, and a mantel that’s an authentic wooden beam from a 1700s Amish barn.
The brightness, functionality and roominess of the new kitchen makes Sunday brunch a lot more enjoyable, the family agrees.
“I’m a big coffee drinker and only buy Black Rifle brand that supports veterans,” Ken said. “Our Jura coffeemaker grinds whole beans and we get them delivered fresh two days after they’re roasted.”
Although Ken is the breakfast guru, Bevin is the baker and is a whiz when it comes to desserts, especially with her miniature pecan pies.
“They are great for the fall and holidays and so easy to make,” she said.
Items they can’t do without:
Bevin: Instant Pot and KitchenAid mixer
Ken: Pop-up USB charger station built into the kitchen island
To soften butter, use a cheese grater
Bevin: Mint chocolate chip ice cream
Ken: Painkiller cocktail (a spiced rum drink with tropical juices)
Miniature Pecan Pies
1 cup softened butter
6 ounces softened cream cheese
2 cups flour
4 tablespoons butter
1½ cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups chopped pecans
Powdered sugar (optional)
For tart shells, beat butter and cream cheese in 2-quart bowl until smooth. Add flour; mix until a soft dough forms. Cover and put in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place into ungreased cups of a mini muffin pan. Dip the rounded end of a kitchen utensil (or a mini tart shaper) in flour and use it to press the balls of flour into tart shells.
For filling, microwave butter in 1-quart bowl on high speed for 30 seconds or until melted. Stir in brown sugar, eggs and vanilla. Chop pecans with food processor or mini chopper; stir into filling.
Use a small spoon to fill each tart with a level scoop of filling. Bake 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Cool in pan 3 minutes. Remove from pan to a nonstick surface, like wax paper. Cool completely and sprinkle with powdered sugar.