WIth multiple burners and grills, the huge French stove is the hub of Linda-Marie's cooking classes.
Gomes and his crew constructed each cabinet by hand like a piece of furniture, including inset flush doors. Units are customized according to their contents. One, for example, accommodates a large 1940s enamel sink with twin drainboards, while others store pots and pans or homemade jams and herbs. Some have rippled glass inserts so Linda-Marie can see dishes inside. Bauer painted the cabinets two shades, cream and yellow, then accented them for visual interest with knobs in 15 different styles.
Countertops, made from Jerusalem limestone, are set at heights that vary from 34 to 36 inches to prevent back strain while serving as workspace for such tasks as peeling vegetables or rolling out dough. Although the standard countertop depth is 24 inches, Linda-Marie requested that hers be 30 inches deep so that small appliances can sit out without getting in the way.
Setting the slab of Italian marble on top of the kitchen island proved to be one of the biggest challenges of the job. Measuring 104 by 63 inches and weighing 700 pounds, the stone required eight men to lift it into position (see "Counter Fitting"). For extra support where the marble cantilevers for seating, wooden corbels, cut to the same profile as the house's exterior eaves brackets, were added.
Appliances, too, exceed the norm in size and needed additional support. As a focal point in the room, Linda-Marie selected a 72-inch-wide, 800-pound La Cornue range from France, featuring two ovens, eight burners, four gas grills, two electric grills, and a barbecue. To bear its weight, and that of the 48-inch-wide stainless steel refrigerator and 30-inch-wide companion freezer, Sawyer doubled up the joists under the radiant-heated floor, which is covered with French limestone.
The enormous custom-made hood (78 inches long, 42 inches wide, 39 inches high) that hangs above the stove required extra structural reinforcement, too. "You can't just suspend a 1,400-pound hood like that," says Bauer.
"You have to plan for it." Sawyer and his crew beefed up the rafters, from 2x12s to 6x12s, then installed a flue chase that runs from the top of the hood to the roofline and attached it to the rafters with four giant lag bolts. (The strengthened rafters also help support a windowed cupola.) To bolster the vaulted ceiling and the added weight of the hood (and to allow for sway in the event of an earthquake), Sawyer and his crew ran two threaded steel rods through a pair of decorative tie beams, boxed in with white-painted birch, that span the room on either side of the chase. These and other decorative timbers provide visual interest, in keeping with the Victorian style of the house.
The kitchen renovation started a domino effect in the downstairs of the house. "Lou Ann just kept saying, Trust me,' and I did," Linda-Marie says with a laugh. For example, there had been no dining room in the house, so Bauer designed onein an insulated 15-by-15-foot, polygonal conservatory that extends onto a deck off the kitchen and offers spectacular views. On the revamped deck, Carlson had railings hand-milled to match existing ones at the front of the house, but with spaces tightened to meet modern building codes. Finials accenting the railing alternate with lamps that light the deck.
As a final flourish, Bauer even managed to take care of a couple of details outside the scope of the job. One day, she asked Linda-Marie about her interests beyond cooking. Linda-Marie mentioned that she loved reading and going to the theater. Lou Ann then suggested that she meet her brother, Rod Bauer, himself a passionate cook, who shares these interests. Once again, Linda-Marie went along with the plan. In the end, she gained not only a new home but a new husband and name: Linda-Marie Bauer.