Armed with a couple of power tools, Andrea Levine and Kent Eanes become invincible. Whether they're tearing down an exterior wall brick by brick, creating a vaulted ceiling, or replacing the hardwood floors throughout their house, no renovation project is too big or messy for these dauntless DIYers.
Over the past 15 years, the couple has made over nearly every inch of their 1938 home, restoring what is one of the earliest (and few) examples of International Bauhaus-style architecture in Richmond.
So it was with years of sweat equity that the couple tackled an extensive kitchen renovation that spanned 16 months. It involved creating a loft-like dining room in what was a primitive detached garage and replacing the home's furnace and ductwork. In addition, they had to work under some pretty rough conditions. "[Hurricane] Isabel took out the electricity as we were hanging the last cabinets," Eanes recalls. "We used a cordless drill to get the last few cabinets up because we were so tenacious."
Their months of hard work paid off. â€¨The end product is a sleek and modern kitchen that is every bit as functional as it is gorgeous. Both Eanes, a motion-picture still photographer, and Levine, a real estate agent, are avid cooks who love to entertain. "We wanted a kitchen that was almost commercial in terms of efficiency," Eanes explains, "and a kitchen that was fun to look at."
They sought the advice of local chefs J. Frank and Tuffy Stone, toured commercial kitchens and scoured restaurant-supply stores for ideas and inspiration. Their research yielded some unconventional choices such as nora rubber flooring, popular in institutional settings but seldom seen in homes. The durable, easy-to-clean surface is gentle on the feet and therefore perfect for a kitchen. They hired a professional for the flooring installation but did all of the prep work themselves.
Counters are commercial-grade stainless steel, fabricated locally by Old Dominion Metal Products after Eanes and Levine measured and built their own custom templates. The range is a professional-grade Thermador, purchased from a now-defunct Carytown appliance store.
Solid maple cabinetry from Lowe's warms up the more industrial aspect of the kitchen. The couple designed the layout themselves. In a space that was once an unusable, unheated area between the house and garage, they carved out an office for Levine. They also found room here for a large pantry and a separate work area with its own sink that allows Eanes to indulge his passion for making fresh pasta.
The couple created an unusual dining room by opening up the once-detached garage to the house. Metal sculptor Tom Chenoweth fabricated a new staircase that leads to the second-story loft dining room, and Eanes created the railing out of Speed-Rail, fittings and piping often used on movie sets.
Although a second-story dining room presents a challenge when entertaining — "We make all of our guests work for their food," Levine jokes — it makes up for the occasional inconvenience by proving plenty of visual drama.
Here the walls are clad with maple panels, some of them concealing spacious built-in closets. The dramatic light fixture in the dining room, a series of three fabric-covered drum shades, was designed by the couple. A series of Eanes' black-and-white photos hangs on the walls.
The new space is a far cry from its cramped and outdated incarnation. They now look forward to entertaining, and often gather friends for casual pasta dinners. The hard labor was worth the effort, says Levine. "Not a day goes by that I don't appreciate what I have." ′