Heart of the Home
Carved in Stone

By Joan Pavel Dardis
Styled by Charlotte Bond

Inspired by fond memories and faraway places, Carole Merkel’s Colorado kitchen combines the best of both beauty and function.

Beauty That Works
Kitchen designer Sharon Overstake shares the following tips:

On a rocky overlook that gazes westward to the Great Divide, Carole and Pete Merkel built a home around boulder outcroppings and a native wildflower garden. In such dramatic surroundings, Carole knew her kitchen had to be something truly special.

Starting with memories of her grandmother’s kitchen in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Carole began to plan and dream. “I knew I wanted my kitchen to have the wonderful well-worn look of my grandmother’s kitchen and others I had seen in the French countryside.”

With Pennsylvania Dutch practicality in her blood, Carole also knew she wanted her kitchen to work as well as it looked. Like the cherished kitchen of her childhood, hers had to be functional.

Working with kitchen designer, Sharon Overstake, Carole managed to achieve a colorful kitchen which emulates the clean efficiency of her grandmother’s kitchen in a sophisticated style all her own.

Beginning with a beautiful blue for the cabinets (Pete’s inspiration), Carole added the touches that give the kitchen the well-loved look she desired. For instance, she chose a wonderful antique patina for the finish on the cabinets and added old-fashioned hardware and quaint see-through bins for storage.

While more cabinetry could have been installed over the downdraft cook top, Carole decided that this was the perfect space for a beautiful focal point.-something completely unique. The rounded rock lined hood with tumbled limestone certainly serves this purpose, filling the whole kitchen with rough-hewn charm.

But make no mistake, for all its beauty, Carole’s kitchen is an efficient work space that does not require constant cleaning. The floor is Colorado flagstone in muted tones that “you just vacuum or wash with water,” she says. “You can’t hurt it, and it never looks dirty.” The walls are a washable glaze that hardly shows fingerprints, while the countertops are slabs of creamy French limestone. “A thin coating of mineral oil on the countertops resists the worst spills-even the blue paint my little granddaughter, Shelby, spilled while we were painting together.”

Originally, Carole wanted a French bakery table or big farmhouse table in the center of the room, but she opted for an island instead, and is now perfectly content with her choice. “The island is so big it doesn’t look cluttered when I work,” she says, “and it still provides a place for Pete to sit and talk while I fix dinner.”

It is this careful attention to both beauty and function that makes Carole’s kitchen timeless and always welcoming. With its echoes of family and faraway places, this kitchen-like its mountain-side setting-truly is something special.

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