After driving through lush rolling hills past a sparkling pool, various outbuildings, horse obstacle courses and barns, it's clear we're not in Kansas anymore. Or Richmond.
We're in the kitchen of a 45-acre working horse farm in Manakin-Sabot. With nine horses, four children, three dogs, two cats and a handful of chickens, form and function must strike the perfect balance to maintain the home's beauty and practicality, especially in the kitchen.
"We have a traditional house, but a modern family," says the owner, just in from the barn. "I love the view and the workability. It's a cliché, but we spend most of our time here."
"The kitchen was here in this space but old and outdated," the owner says, who, with her family, made the leap from city to country in 2005. "We lived with it for about a year to figure out what we needed." During a summer's worth of renovations by KDWHome: Kitchen Designworks, the family cooked in an outbuilding inspired by the Raleigh Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg.
Light streams through an inset skylight and a solid wall of windows in the informal dining room, home to a rectangular, blonde wood table and white leather chairs. Walls of off-white cabinets, traditional without being ornate, mask everything from the dishwasher and trashcan to cubbies for the children. All of the appliances, including a Sub-Zero wine and drink cooler and a warming drawer under the oven, are stainless steel, combining the sleek and the practical. The wood floors, made from reclaimed heart pine, replete with knotty pine and nail holes, weather well with three dogs.
"What they have is very sophisticated, clean and functional," says Ann Rumble, a designer with KDWHome. After walking the family through the initial design stages and advising on the finer points as well, Rumble says, "The whole space was built with the needs of the family in mind. Flow was very important. A lot of action can happen, which is the type of life they want to lead."
To maximize space, Rumble integrated a post to support the weight of a load-bearing wall on the peninsula, disguising it with matching cabinetry panels and creating a safe haven for the children to eat outside of the line of fire. She also helped with the selection of a counter and peninsula surface that would complement the other materials in the kitchen.
The smooth, leathery taupe and chocolate concrete countertops made by Pretty Hard Concrete in Charlottesville are reminiscent of both the outdoors and the horses just beyond the window. "They fit the environment," says Rumble. "They are a very natural, green product. They remind me of all the earth tones that surround the home."
"It's the little things like this that make a huge difference in your day," says the owner, leaning against her counter. "Nothing's broken yet," she says with a laugh. "Knock on concrete."