Waterfront Kitchen...
Embracing a Nautical Theme in Vermilion

by Melissa Lefelar

Water. It’s one of the basic elements of life. However, some people have such a love of water … for boating, swimming, fishing …. that they choose to bring that passion inside their homes. That’s the case for a Vermilion couple who embarked on a remodel and redesign of their riverside home to reflect that connection to the water. From an element of life to an element of lifestyle!

The home improvement project started like many others. “My wife saw a kitchen in a magazine (that she liked). So basically, we sat down with an architect and a builder and said this is what we’d like to try to recreate,” said the homeowner, a local businessman.

The homeowners enlisted architect John Malloy and builder Mike Cyran to make the vision a reality. The home was enlarged by 300 square feet and reconfigured. That brought the total imprint to 3,800 square feet. The focus was on the kitchen, which takes up 90% of the new space.The overall nautical theme reflects the location of the home in Vermilion’s “Lagoons” community bordered by Lake Erie and the Vermilion River. Also evident is the couple’s love of the ocean, which they visit frequently on trips to their second home in Naples, Florida. It’s not the cutesy marine-look of old, but a more sophisticated style.

The entryway to the kitchen sets the tone, with an 80-gallon saltwater fish tank. “It’s a great location for a saltwater tank and sets the tone for the room. I love scuba diving and also have a 300-gallon tank in my office” said the homeowner.

The kitchen has everything that the most discerning chef could want, from a Wolf 4-burner cook top with griddle to Wolf double built-in ovens and a Sub-Zero refrigerator.

The cabinets are custom painted birch wood from Mullet Cabinets in Millersburg, Ohio. All of the stainless appliances are hidden behind cabinetry, a look that is becoming more popular with sophisticated clients. “Some people like that integrated look. In high-end homes and remodels, we are seeing either the stainless steel or wood paneled fronts. You don’t see almond anymore,” said Steve Monroe, Interior Designer at Mullet Cabinets.

Those cabinets are not only beautiful, but very versatile. Right next to the cook top is a pullout spice cabinet, with everything organized just the way the cook likes it. An enclosed space for pot scrubbers and dishwashing soap hides under the sink and conveniently tilts out. Wood cutting boards can easily be pulled out for use in several locations. A Miele dishwasher is concealed behind custom cabinet facing under the counter.

Mullet Cabinet also installed the striking black and sapphire-colored granite, called Blue Pearl. It’s just one of the many features that recalls the nearby water. The island is two levels, with shelves for cookbooks and artwork underneath. The couple often sits on barstools at the island for casual meals enjoying an unobstructed view of activity on the river. A Sub-Zero wine cooler that holds 50 bottles is neatly tucked underneath the large island.

One of the most artistic elements is the backsplash, featuring tiles the couple brought home from Florida. “My wife and I were on Fifth Avenue in Naples, at a craft show that takes up the whole street,” he said. “This guy and his wife are out of West Palm Beach, Florida. We liked the tiles that he had and took his ideas and cut them down a little bit.” An installer from Versitile in Amherst helped create the final fish mosaic. Fish are also found on the cabinet door and drawer pulls and the doorknob to the outside patio. The attractive bamboo wood flooring adds warmth to the overall look. The vaulted ceiling features wood beams that support a 13-foot ceiling. Two workable skylights bring both the sun and lake breezes inside. For added convenience and efficiency, both skylights feature a remote control that will open and close as needed. They also feature a hand crank (via an Allen wrench) in case of a power outage. A large ceiling fan that looks like a ship’s wheel completes the look. “That was the idea of the general contractor,” said the homeowner. “He showed us a couple of different ways that it could be done. What you see there is his idea that pulls it all together.”

Contractor Mike Cyran, Owner of Mike Cyran Builders, said the positioning of the beams is called a king post design truss. “I went down to Amish country and got rough-hewn cherry beams. It’s solid wood,” he said.

Everything is both cohesive and cozy. A four-person dining booth with a custom bamboo wood top, made by Mullet Cabinet, looks out onto the marina and the couple’s two boats. Concealed beneath the seating of the booth are handy storage “boxes.” Mullet also made a matching wood top for the kitchen’s desk. The owner’s and their friends can sit with a glass of wine at the table and keep an eye on all the boating activity in their own backyard and on the river.

Just down the hallway, a blue and white bathroom continues the nautical motif. A window is cut into the common wall against the aquarium. This neat feature allows viewing of the aquarium from the bathroom.

The client even took the design scheme further, with a grouping of fishing buoys on the exterior wall of the home. “I was up in Canada and saw another house that had something similar. You don’t see it very often. These types of buoys are used primarily by fishermen. There happened to be a gentleman who made these buoys in a little town nearby. I commissioned him to make me 30 of them in multi-colors, and I put them on the side of the house. As time goes on, they will weather and they’ll age and they’ll discolor,” he said. This decorated area looks onto a paved deck with seating—another area where the homeowners can be comfortably close to the water.

While the homeowner gives a lot of credit to those he hired for the project, they give the credit right back. “Most of it was (his) idea. I kind of refined it for him. It was just a matter of me taking his ideas and working on them. We designed as we went,” said Cyran.

The homeowner does not worry that the aquatic theme is too specific to his tastes, as he never plans on selling the home. “I’m going to die in this house,” he said with a convincing grin.

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