There's slow food and fast food, each with its attractions. Dick VanNewkirk, who likes to build as well as braise, believes it's best to take one's time. He spent “about a year" renovating this kitchen, in the 1939 cottage he and Karin Gately share in Wilmington, North Carolina—and that was with Karin working alongside him, from demolition and design to painting and tiling. While sticking to a $12,000 budget, they didn't stint on tools and materials, managing to acquire, for example, their very own cement vibrator and mixer—helpful in making concrete countertops—and a vacuum press, which Dick used to add jatoba veneer to the cabinet fronts.
Shown: Marble wall tile, concrete countertops, cabinets made with exotic woods, and a butcher-block-topped island step up warmth and function.