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House Beautiful 2015 kitchen of the year in NOLA

Kitchen designer Ken Fulk (Photo: House Beautiful)

Kitchen designer Ken Fulk (Photo: House Beautiful)

Nothing is new about celebrating kitchens in this city, or any city for that matter; it's where we hang out, meet and greet, kiss and cook and drink. But we will up the ante this weekend when House Beautiful sweeps into New Orleans to open the doors of their Annual Kitchen of the Year. In past years it's been held at Rockefeller Center, the Kips Bay Decorator Show House, and the San Francisco Decorators Show House. Now, for the first time, Kitchen of the Year will be held in a private home. House Beautiful and many of the sponsors had friends down here (who doesn't) and were interested in NOLA (who isn't?), so it was a perfect opportunity for Kitchen of the Year to join with the N.O. Jr League for their annual kitchen tour, a match made in kitchen heaven.

Newell Turner, the editorial director of the Hearst Design Group (Elle Decor, House Beautiful, and Veranda), has been in the shelter magazine arena for 30 years (with a 6 month detour in NOLA to think about life...doesn't everyone?). He's a Southern boy from Belzoni, Mississippi in the Delta -- population 2000 -- who did his grad school studies at Ole Miss in Magazine Design within the School of Journalism. (Who knew there was such a thing as Graduate Studies in Magazine Design?!)

The staff at House Beautiful sent out emails to friends and family looking for a home in NOLA that was in the beginning phase of a remodel and that's how House Beautiful met Helen and Scott Jenkins and their three kids.

San Francisco designer Ken Fulk's formula for a happy interior design is first to really know who his clients are, how they live, entertain, what they read, what movies they watch, getting into their heads. From there his imagination is free to fly because now he knows how his design will sync with the real family who'll occupy the real space.

Ken reconfigured the back third of this 1860's house so that a sitting area adjoins the working kitchen becoming a large open space unifying the cook with friends and family. Show-stopping 7-foot doors filled with window lights beckon you to the expansive back porch with two great sitting areas and, when needed, curtains so that -- torrential thunderstorms or not -- anytime is porch-sitting time.

Somehow this grand house comes off as friendly. Maybe it's the mixture of textures, like taking old wood down to it's original surface, using handmade tiles that appear to be old white-washed brick full of irregularities, or the fearless use of color, painting the kitchen island boiled-shrimp pink; but nothing here comes off as too precious. Old mirrored doors from the Bultman Funeral Home have been installed in the hallway elegantly hiding a laundry room and a guest bath.

homey kitchen w sweet painting

Clearly this is an active family house, with three kids ranging in age from 12 to 17 years. Helen and Scott said they loved to entertain, to which Ken's responded "then you should have a proper bar!" What Ken created was way beyond proper; it's spectacular. Ken's firm is about 50 persons strong, and he sent his staff artist, Rafael Arana, down here to paint a bayou scene onto Thibaut's gorgeous grey/blue seagrass wallpaper that lines the bar/library. Not to be missed.

the fabulous bar

 

 

The goods:

House Beautiful magazine's Kitchen of the Year, located inside the home of Helen and Scott Jenkins, will be among 12 houses featured on the Junior League of New Orleans' 10th annual Kitchen Tour. Included with the tour also will be a smaller "get-the-look" kitchen created by San Francisco-based designer Ken Fulk at the Junior League headquarters.

When: The tour will be held on Saturday, May 2, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Kitchen of the Year also will be open Sunday, May 3, from noon to 4 p.m.

Cost: Advance tour tickets are $40 ($30 for Junior League members) at jlno.org. Tickets on the day of the tour are $45 at the Junior League headquarters, 4319 Carondelet St. or at any home along the tour. On Sunday, May 3, visitors may see the Kitchen of the Year only for $25.

Details: Chefs Kelly Fields, Brian Landry and Miles Landrem from the John Besh Restaurant Group will host cooking demonstrations from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, May from 4-6 p.m., at 4933 Camp St. Reservations required. To attend, email [email protected] and specify date and time. 

Food: Early next week, chefs from The John Besh Restaurant Group -- Kelly Fields, Brian Landry and Miles Landrem -- will hold evening cooking demonstrations on the appliances for events sponsored by House Beautiful and KitchenAid. The cooking demos are open to the public. Those interested can RSVP via email to: [email protected]

Watch for the big story on Kitchen of the Year in the October issue of House Beautiful.

Carol Pulitzer is an award-winning writer and illustrator. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Food & Wine Magazine, and Country Living among others. She writes and illustrates super short stories at her Little Theatre blog ( littletheatre1.com ) and can be contacted at [email protected]