This remodeled kitchen was designed to look like it had always been there
By Carol Brock
It’s not often a salamander gets rescued, and it’s even more rare when a beautifully remodeled kitchen plays second fiddle to that rescued amphibian. But that’s what happened at Wyeth and Stephanie Clark Ridgway’s home.
When Stephanie found an injured western tiger salamander at a winter construction site, she took him home, named him Carter, and nursed him back to health in a terrarium on her kitchen island. The family’s newly remodeled kitchen is the central gathering spot for Stephanie, Wyeth, and their two daughters, and Carter was a treasured family member until they released him into a wetland a year later. “He could truly smile, which was so endearing and unexpected from our first amphibian!” Stephanie says.
These days, the kitchen is often the site of baking fests for the couple’s daughters, 13-year-old Lauren and 11-year-old Avery, who enjoy making birthday cakes, cupcakes, brownies and nut brittle. “Since we generally eat really healthy food, baking is one way they can get something sweet,” says Stephanie, an architect and owner of 303 Architecture Inc. in Boulder.
Stephanie designed the remodeled kitchen in her home—a 1920 former college rental in Boulder’s Flatirons neighborhood. “I’ll be happy with it for the rest of my life,” she says of her dream kitchen. Her remodel pays homage to the home’s history with a marriage of historic and modern styles, such as subway tiles and painted wood details, paired with modern stainless steel appliances and marble countertops. “My vision was to create a bright and timeless kitchen,” Stephanie says. But that’s nowhere near what she started with.
The original kitchen sported peach-toned cabinetry, a diagonal kitchen sink and black granite countertops, while the rest of the 1,380-square-foot home had uneven and spongy floors, and a noncompliant staircase. “We loved the good bones of the home, but we wanted a more open kitchen that was better suited for entertaining and daily use,” Stephanie says. Especially since the couple had hosted a pre-pandemic Beer Club for the past 20 years with friends and family that could include gatherings of 40 or more “self-proclaimed beer connoisseurs.”
Stephanie’s remodel acknowledges that two dishwashers are better than one, ample counters and storage are awesome, and a dedicated espresso and wet bar area are entertainment must-haves.
Coming from a very tiny kitchen in their former home in the Mapleton Hill Historic District, the couple knew they wanted a welcoming, open floor plan for entertaining and seamless transitions from food prep to cooking to eating. “We intentionally made the space between the countertops an ample 5 feet, so my husband and I could both be cooking at the same time, with kids and a dog underfoot.”
In fact, the kitchen has been a lifesaver during the pandemic, says Stephanie, with all the family’s meals, snacks, desserts and espressos made and consumed at home. And Corey, their rescued hound-dog mix has been a reliable godsend. “He is an amazing kitchen helper. Some friends have joked that our home looks like it was designed around Corey’s markings—lots of white like the tile, cabinets and marble countertops, and brown like the wide-plank oak flooring,” Stephanie says with a laugh. “But he is always ready to help, cleaning up any food that hits the floor!”