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Foodie Lovers | Penne pasta covered in a blue cheese alfredo sauce

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Photography by Edward Biamonte, article by Chris DeRosier, production, kitchen and dining room design by A. Deckard Interiors.

The Kelsos may be the ultimate foodie family. Imagine a group of four traveling across the U.S., trying the works of restaurants and chefs as seen on Food Network television programs and other sources at each stop. Every meal becomes a story, and many of the best stories are told at the dinner table. But before the plates and silverware are ever placed there first comes the careful process of making a meal. It’s a process the Kelsos take great care with when they’re cooking at home, and they customized their kitchen with it in mind.

This story begins in the dog-eared pages of stacks of interior design and home living magazines. Deanna Kelso spent years living with a kitchen she didn’t want. Before she and husband Kent built their current home from scratch they remodeled the kitchen in their previous home, a change Deanna says she was able to learn from and make a lot of improvements with but that still left her unsatisfied.

For the next 10 years Deanna would spend time thumbing through kitchen magazines and stockpiling ideas, thinking to herself, “When we build, we’ll do this.” Finally the time to work on a new home came in 2005, and Deanna teamed up with local interior designer Andrea Deckard to realize her ideas. This was new territory for Deanna–not just the chance to create a space for her and her family from scratch, but collaborating with Deckard, as she wasn’t involved in the Kelsos’ kitchen remodeling–but Deanna quickly found the meeting ground between her traditional style leanings and Deckard’s contemporary and color-rich approach. What the two came up with resulted in a design and layout made for space management, communal cooking and keeping party guests happy.

All of the Kelsos–Deanna, husband Kent and daughters Lauren and LaRaya–are actively involved in preparing each night’s meal (the girls have been part of the cooking process since they were two years old, Deanna says), so the kitchen divides into working stations so that all four can participate without interfering with each other.

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The prep sink is nestled inside the kitchen island a step away from the refrigerator. The dish sink and cleaning station sit next to each other at the kitchen’s other end, with the back yard filling the view through the window. A brass potfiller snakes out over a Wolf six-top stove, protruding from a backsplash made of stainless steel tile. The result is an easy work flow for everyone and a sort of arcing path for the meal, moving from raw ingredients at the fridge to stove and back down to cleanup area. Red is the underlying color palette in the kitchen, with dark cherry wood throughout offset by red knobs on the stove and pieces of decor; in all, the Kelso home has more than 10 colors running through it, and the most vibrant hues might be saved for the family’s most-used room. The approach is anything but French country, which Deanna says is what she most wanted to avoid.

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To the left of the fridge is the icemaker–a giveaway of the true foodie, according to Deanna, because it saves refrigerator space–and to the right are two KitchenAid Superba series ovens stacked one on top of the other. Kent is vice president at Heartland Bank Mortgage and hosts company parties at home, not to mention big gatherings for events such as New Year’s Eve and the Super Bowl, so the extra mechanical help comes in handy to make sure there’s enough food to go around. The holidays play a big part in it, too; Lauren says the family makes about 60 pounds of hand-dipped chocolates for friends and guests each Christmas. “At the end of the day you’re like, ‘I’m never eating chocolate again,’” she says.

When the guests are gone the holidays revert back to the family traditions, with Kent’s east L.A. roots calling for tamales on Christmas Eve followed by brunch and a goose dinner on Christmas day. It’s the only time the family keeps any regularity with what it eats; otherwise, Deanna says, the family never makes the same meal twice. You might say that’s a tradition unto itself. “In the early days she’d look in the fridge and say, ‘We don’t have anything for dinner,’” Kent says. “Then I’d go, ‘Sure we do!’ and make something up.”

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Penne pasta covered in blue cheese alfredo sauce.

Every meal is a new invention of sorts with the Kelsos. Our meal with them was a variation on a recipe they ate for the first time at a restaurant in Horseshoe Bay, Texas a few years ago, a kind of penne pasta covered in blue cheese alfredo sauce. Since the Kelsos say they eat together about 95 percent of the time, though, one story about food leads to another, and the conversation about finding this recipe takes us through their journeys across America trying the restaurants they saw on TV where they stopped, to Kent’s signature cheesecake recipe, to his stops with friends and coworkers to review eateries for their blog SGFDinersandDives.com… the list goes on.

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This is a family that comes together over a good morsel, and it does so better than ever now that the house and kitchen they always planned for has come together, too. Even Deanna has to marvel at it all a little bit. She faces the kitchen from the living room and points to the staircase over her right shoulder, just beyond the stacked ovens. “I remember sitting on these stairs and going, ‘Oh, my gosh, that’s the kitchen from the magazines,’” she says. Thanks to a lot of patience and waiting, as well as an expert’s help, she’ll never have to dog-ear pages in kitchen magazines again–a fitting end to one story, but a promising start to the next. In this house, that will only mean waiting until dinnertime.

A. Deckard Interiors is a full service design firm specializing in creating both residential and commercial spaces to enhance our client’s lives.  We focus on bringing inspired design and functional elements to each project we complete.

Please contact us via our website: http://www.adeckardinteriors.com

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