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Kitchen Sans Kitsch: Minneapolis Couple Wins Lavender Makeover

By Lavender December 4, 2008

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Looking back, the biggest surprise wasn’t the Paperstone countertop or the LED lighting. It was the dust. “It was everywhere,” David Young recalls. “We didn’t even want to clean anything, because we knew it was just going to have to be cleaned again.” But that dust may be somewhat akin to ash from which a phoenix—a new kitchen—arose.

Photos by Lavender Studios

Young and his partner, Edward Williams, won—if that’s the right term—Lavender’s recent kitchen makeover promotion. Readers from all across the Central Time Zone sent us pictures and pitches, telling us why their kitchen most merited the phoenix treatment. A crack panel of Lavender’s own experts—that is, the biggest eaters (who presumably spend the most time in their own kitchens)—chose three finalists. And you, devoted Lavender readers, acted as the ultimate arbiter, granting the thumbs-up to Young and Williams.

It all started with the color green.

“I just knew that we had this green linoleum floor that had to go,” Young says simply.

“Every time we walked through the kitchen we were, like, ‘Ugh, ouch—we hate this floor and the countertops,” Williams adds. “We pick up Lavender Magazine all the time, and [David] was picking through the issue that announced the contest. David told me, ‘We have to enter. We can win this.’ And I was, like, ‘Ehhh, OK, whatever.’”

Young took point, shaping a treatise that was as much style as substance.

“It was, like, ‘We have to be memorable,’” Young explains.

“We both have theater involvement, so we decided to pull out the whole theater thing,” Williams points out.

This theater thing manifested in a pitch evoking that gayest of gay icons.

“We had to have a starting point,” Williams shares. “Then, the green floor came back in. We started thinking, ‘Emerald, green, emerald, green’—oh, Wizard of Oz!”

They had their starting point.

Williams remembers the actual written proposal with a chuckle: “It was something like, ‘Emerald green should only be seen in the Emerald City. Our countertops are so scary, they’d even scare the scarecrow. We need the Kitchen Makeover Witch of the West to come in.’ We had fun with it.”

Such fun, and no small amount of creativity, notwithstanding, victory was anything but a foregone conclusion.

“Our kitchen floor photographed better than it really was,” Young relates with a shudder. “We were afraid our friends would vote for someone else.”

Young’s focus was absolute, and Williams found it infectious.

According to Williams, “Once we knew that we were finalists, that’s when the switch happened for me. I thought, ‘We might actually have a chance to win this.’ For David, it had always been about winning.”

Williams started thinking in terms of another kind of green: money not spent on an elaborate renovation.

Then came the call that would prove life-changing…or room-changing, at least.

Williams recounts, “When we found out we won, we wondered, ‘What does this mean? Do we get a new floor?’”

Serving as ringmaster-slash-juggler of this particular three-ring reconstruction was Therese Kemp, project manager for Vision Remodeling, a renovation company famous for its craftsmanship.

Kemp notes, “I managed the project, and supplied the cabinets, millwork, and the dumpster. I expected a project with a collection of subcontractors that I wasn’t familiar with would present a potential for chaos…but, no. The crew Lavender set up were all great to work with, and very accommodating to every else’s schedule, as well as to the homeowners.”

And those homeowners impressed Kemp in their own right.

“A kitchen remodel is a very stressful project for the homeowners,” Kemp observes. “To have your home in chaos for so long, and to have no normalcy in your day-to-day life, can cause a lot of stress. David and Ed seemed to really roll with the punches, and consistently offered thanks and wows. That goes a long way for workers on a job like this.”

Williams confirms the opinion of the professional: “Our life was definitely on hold. Remodeling projects take time.”

And there was still Williams and Young’s bête noir, the emerald floor, to consider. Taming that particular lion fell to high-performance home-product supplier High Tech Energy Solutions, a duty shared by managing partner Kevin Leehan and sales guru Denny Wiste.

“We installed the Teragren bamboo floor, the H window in the wall, and Paperstone counter top material, and we provided the LED lights in the kitchen,” Leehan affirms. “We were not quite sure what to expect. Our hope was that the project would be done in a professional manner, and that we would only have to do our part of the project.”

How did that work out?

Well, as it turns out, “once the project got rolling, it went smoothly,” Leehan reports with no small sense of relief. “I suppose the fact that it has gone so well is something of a surprise. After all, we have never worked with any other companies before. Denny worked with the people at Vision Remodeling on scheduling and reviewing the plans. He did all of the coordination with our suppliers. I think all of us were impressed with Vision. There were several meetings at the house with all of the participants present at which time the broad outlines of project were discussed. Other meetings took place with specific subcontractors and Vision. Many e-mails were exchanged between everyone.”

These e-mails culminated in a kind of gestalt.

“A lot of people were bringing things to the table as we were going along,” Williams comments. “I think it was one of the gentlemen from High Tech Energy Solutions who said, ‘I think we can get one of our vendors to replace your window, and get you an H-window, a wonderful, energy-efficient window.’ It was great!”

That organic chain of accidental creation repeated time and again, as the Frankenstein-esque process unfolded. The kitchen’s evolution might have started at its base, but the forces of change quickly worked their way up, as another kind of green made its presence known: the green of reuse.

“The Tile Shop provided glass tile backsplash created from recycled glass, as well as a marble entry floor,” Megan Hoy, marketing coordinator for The Tile Shop, states. “We had one of the easier jobs of supplying the tile, but it went very well. All was clear and organized as to when the supplies were needed. Going into this project, we were expecting to get involved with a deserving couple, and various home vendors being able to give back to a community who has given us support—and the project turned out to be exactly that!”

While numerous other purveyors of transformation were involved, their efforts were covered, literally and figuratively, by one final contributor.

“I’m always the cleanup guy,” Noah Duncanson affably jokes when describing his duties as faux artisan (and owner) of Immaculate Designs, a full-service painting company specializing in “luxurious custom interior finishes.”

So, how does that translate to the renovated kitchen? Duncanson checks in thusly: “I primed and painted all the walls and ceilings. I enameled all the base, trim, doors, and the new window. I also applied a two-tone Lusterstone finish to the walls.”

Duncanson’s work touched every other purveyor’s effort, so he had to play well with others.

In Duncanson’s words, “I mostly dealt with David and Ed, and I worked with Therese at Vision. Therese was a great coordinator, and David and Ed have exceptional taste, so it made my job a lot easier. The quality of work and coordination of the project was top-notch. I didn’t really know what to expect from this project, but I knew that it was going to be pretty cool, especially since Vision was heading it up. I had heard some really good things about them in the past, and was pretty excited to get to work with them and some other good quality professionals. The reality was better than I anticipated!”

The most important accessory in any kitchen, it seems, isn’t the stove, the fridge, or the cupboards. It’s the people within it.

“We’ve met some people who are so good with their customer service and their relations to us,” Young enthuses. “Everyone has been so polite and friendly, and we can’t wait to tell our friends, and promote the businesses in the best way possible.”

But the good vibes don’t ebb there.

“We want to give a really big thank-you to Lavender Magazine, and to all the businesses who have donated their products and their time,” Young remarks. “It’s been really wonderful.”

As wonderful, it would seem, as a trip to Oz.

All About Upholstery
Tanya & Matthew DuRoche
(612) 822-2296
[email protected]

A-Z Electric
Chris Rasmussen
(612) 275-2117
[email protected]

California Closets
Darci Fredricks
(952) 844-0004
[email protected]

Hi-Tech Energy Solutions
Kevin Leehan
(651) 204-0922
[email protected]

House of Clocks
Donna Gregg
(651) 771-7479
[email protected]

Immaculate Designs
Noah Duncanson
(612) 202-9437
[email protected]

The Tile Shop
Megan Hoy & Becky Austin
(763) 541-1444
[email protected]

Twin Cities Green/Re Gifts
Ryan & Tina North
(612) 272-5680 (cell)
[email protected]

Vision Remodeling
Todd Polifka
(763) 425-6003
[email protected]

Wenzel Heating & Air Conditioning
Dan Miller
(651) 894-9898
[email protected]

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