Shabbat meals, family gatherings and out-of-town weekend guests. That’s a way of life for Elana and Josh Kahane and family.
So, when the couple finally decided the time was right for a life-changing decision about a major update to their 1980s floor plan they had to decide – move or remodel?
“Moving was out of the question. We love our home, our neighbors and our neighborhood,” said Josh about their location at the end of a quiet cove in East Memphis close to their synagogue. “But our home just wasn’t conducive as a place for hosting large events and communal gatherings.”
So, what began about three years ago as a plan to remodel the outdated kitchen and expand the dining room became a total home gut job that was completed just in time – before the coronavirus shut down.
It started with a team of professionals who made it possible for the family to live on the property during the entire construction process. “Looking back, maybe we should have just moved,” joked Josh. “But, with the kids away at camp, it was a perfect opportunity to jumpstart recreating the entire upstairs children’s wing.”
The first item of business was hiring Lee Baum of Baum & Company to build a new guest wing for a second master bedroom and beautiful master bath – a perfect space for Elana and Josh to move into during the downstairs reno. The guest wing also houses their state-of-the-art stadium seating movie theater (with candy concession wall) and an additional upstairs laundry room. Next was the downstairs addition with construction of a new master bedroom suite, two new fireplaces, a welcoming sitting area, his and her closets by Inspired Closets, a bathroom with separate his and her showers and water closets, and special vestibule sitting area, “my favorite spot in the house to relax,” said Elana.
Once the master suite was complete, they closed off the middle of the house to tear down walls between the kitchen and surrounding rooms. Elana and Josh were able to move downstairs into the new master wing. In the newly constructed sunroom, they built a small kitchen so Elana could continue to cook family and Shabbat meals, something she often did in the “garage to accommodate the extra food preparations,” according to Karen Kassen of Kitchens Unlimited who designed the kitchen, dining, powder and family rooms.
“We removed walls, moved rooms, and took the whole area down to the cement,” said Karen, who worked with Tim Disalvo & Co. to create and reconfigure a perfectly functional kosher kitchen and dining room, laundry room, den, sunroom, back entrance and breakfast nook.
“When working with kosher kitchen owners, I let the client guide me to the level of separation for ovens, refrigeration, etc.,” explained Karen. “Elana and Josh wanted an open, modern plan with a high-gloss finish, an abundance of ovens, dishwashers and microwaves. The floor space was limited without moving into another area, so we utilized a huge 15-foot island to accommodate the ovens and microwaves. We raised the cabinets to the ceiling, added adjustable shelving and lowered the amount of space between the upper cabinets and the countertop.”
The couple wanted to keep the design sleek, contemporary and kid-friendly. The result is a modern design with functional elements including durable textured-laminate cabinet doors. The countertops sport a quartz/93% polymer mix that requires minimal maintenance. The backsplash is made of Caesar stone from Israel.
“Keeping the cabinets, flooring, backsplash and counters neutral, allowed the couple’s colorful art collection to pop,” said Karen.
In addition to four Wolf ovens, four dishwashers, two microwaves, separate Subzero fridge and freezers, and two eternity sinks, Josh was insistent – even though he doesn’t drink coffee – that the kitchen include a touchscreen coffee station that freshly brews all kinds of drinks and an easy-to-reach drawer for the kids to grab a cold beverage without having to open the fridge.
The dining room buffet was outfitted with four Wolf warming drawers so that Elana could have all the meals prepared before Shabbat and placed in convenient areas to keep warm and a built-in washing station made from a large piece of stone imported from Israel – all to allow minimal flow in and out of the kitchen.
Last but not least on the project list was the outdoor area. “We finished the kitchen and dining room areas just in time for Passover two years ago,” said Josh.
When the inside job was close to wrapping up, construction began outside with the help of Nature’s Path, who finished the job at Thanksgiving 2019 – just before COVID-19.
“We knew this area would be a hit in the spring, summer and fall,” said Josh. “But who knew that we’d be spending most of our Shabbats out here with friends and family in 2020 and in to 2021?”
The family is settled in and enjoying the indoors and most-often outdoors with family and friends. The upstairs guest wing is always open to out-of-town visitors and Shabbat guests and the movie theater has become a Saturday night favorite.
“But we are still not quite finished,” explained Elana, who is still searching for the perfect dining room table to fit the unique layout of the large L-shaped room.
“We couldn’t have asked for anything more from all of the terrific people who helped us through this journey including Lee Baum, Karen Kassen and the Kitchens Unlimited team, the Inspired Closets team, and the folks at Nature’s Path,” said Josh. “Our home is just what we wished for – functional, warm and welcoming.”