Mike Tolbert took his wife, Sheila, by surprise late last year when he said they should remodel their kitchen in celebration of their 40th wedding anniversary. “I told him I didn’t need a gift but he surprised me anyway,” Sheila says.
The Tolberts purchased their Belleair Shores home back in 2016 and worked with Susanne Van Selow, president of Van Selow Design Build, to renovate the entire house. They had initially left the kitchen alone because it was in good condition. “After renovating the entire house the kitchen didn’t fit in with the rest of the design, which is more contemporary, but it still worked for us,” Sheila says.
A trusting relationship
But now that they were ready to update the kitchen it was only natural to hand over the reins to Van Selow once again. “She remodeled our previous condo and she was with us when we decided to purchase this house,” Mike says. “She knows the house and what we want so we were excited to work with her again on this project.”
Van Selow suggested removing the peninsula counter that divided up the kitchen from the dining area in order to create a galley design with an oversized island and an abundance of storage space. “The island serves as the hub of operations,” Van Selow says. “It is 12 feet long and over five feet wide. Sheila and Mike have plenty of room to work together and host guests without feeling crowded.”
The Tolberts wanted the design to complement the rest of the house, which is contemporary with clean lines and neutral colors. “I didn’t want anything fussy,” Sheila says. “We wanted a sleek design without moldings and unnecessary trim work.”
Sleek and clean design
Rather than wood, Michelle Manzini at Fusion Cabinets suggested thermal-infused melamine cabinets from DeWils Fine Cabinetry. The flat panel doors, which are stain and scratch resistant, feature a beautiful faux wood grain look with a three-dimensional textured finish. The cabinets are topped with Calacatta Gold quartz from Millenium. “We used the quartz for the backsplash and installed a thicker edge on the island, which also includes a waterfall countertop,” Van Selow says. “That waterfall counter creates a nice, clean look and really makes the space pop.”
Mike is the cook in the family, so having a large gas range was important to him. Van Selow moved the range from its original location next to the window to its own wall in order to create the perfect cooking triangle, allowing everything to be within Mike’s reach. The stainless range hood is encased in cabinetry to blend in with the rest of the kitchen. “I really wanted the range hood to be integrated into the kitchen, but not be the star of the show like you so often see,” Sheila says.
One element this kitchen isn’t short on is storage. Thanks to the seamless design, everything from the spice rack to the pantry is integrated behind cabinet doors and drawers. The Tolberts have easy access to a hidden cutting board, their KitchenAid mixer, and even their knife collection. The pantry is tucked behind a pair of pull out cabinet doors flanking the 36-inch Sub-Zero side-by-side refrigerator and freezer. “The organization is wonderful,” says Mike. “No more toasters or blenders on the countertops—everything is tucked away.”
Other unique details, such as the open shelving made from 12-inch-deep wood slabs with a live edge and sleek drop down pendant lighting from Eurofase, finish off the design and add touches of rustic charm to the contemporary kitchen. Van Selow also points out that she was able to match the existing travertine floors seen throughout the much of the home. “We had to tear up the old travertine floor in the kitchen in order to run new gas lines and other mechanicals,” she said. “But since the stone has so many colors we were able to install new travertine and make it work.”
Mike and Sheila couldn’t be happier with their new kitchen. “We are in our 60s and we have moved around a lot. By now we know what we like and what we need,” Sheila says. “Susanne listened so well to our ideas and created the perfect kitchen for us.”
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