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Architect Ken Richmond is a wiz at spatial reasoning and he’s applied all those skills and then some to the renovation of the the circa 1870’s home on Boardman Street in Traverse City that he and his wife, Joan, have been carefully remodeling for 18 years.

Ken’s creative yet functional sense of possibilities greets you as you walk up to the home through a large, lush sunken yard (he dug it out himself), bordered by stacked stone walls and tall hedges. The grassy space opens to a path, almost hidden in lilac bushes and other flora, that leads to an intimate courtyard flanked on one side by the kitchen and the other the master bedroom.

Inside the home, Richmond has made sense of the hodgepodge of additions and doorways that had accumulated in the old house over the years, while preserving the scale and charm of the original floor plan. Among strokes that his wife calls “genius,” he squeezed out space for a powder room/laundry room between two rooms on the first floor, streamlined doorways in the den so that traffic moves along the side of the room and not through it, and proposed swapping the master bedroom with the kitchen to locate the master bedroom in the more private back of the home.

Even so, Richmond is the first to say that it was simple serendipity that led to the focal point of their kitchen makeover: a massive wall-to-ceiling, intricately carved, white oak antique English cabinet. Back when the kitchen was still a master bedroom, and years before the couple inherited the cabinet from Joan’s father who’d had it in his office in Cincinnati, the couple added twin dropceiling alcoves, one on each side of the room, to their bedroom. When the cabinet was eventually delivered to Traverse City, it fit as snugly against the wall between the two alcoves as if Ken had measured and schemed it into place.

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See photos of Ken Richmond’s Renovation. Buy the October 2009 issue of Traverse and get Northern Home & Cottage with the Richmond feature!

Enter Scott Lankford, kitchen designer and owner of Lankford Design Group and Ken’s creative alter ego (the two have teamed up on a number of home projects), to help take a grand kitchen beginning to its efficient conclusion. In keeping with the antique-juxtaposed-with-modern theme that runs through the rest of the house, Lankford oversaw the fabrication of two minimalist work stations to fit into the alcoves—one is outfitted with the sink, a drawer-dishwasher and two deep, rollout drawers. The other houses the range and more drawers. A stainless rolling counter in the middle of the room provides added workspace and storage. Counter-to-ceiling stainless backsplashes in each workstation bounce light from new French doors, with matching transoms, that lead into the courtyard between the kitchen and (newly renovated) master bedroom. A Venetian glass chandelier the Richmonds bought in Rome plays off all the reflections and complements the antique cabinet.

More utilitarian magic is around the corner in the pantry—formerly the master bedroom closet—where the refrigerator is tucked. Lankford clad the walls, shelves and refrigerator in creamy beadboard to give it the feeling of an old-fashioned pantry. Shelves are open and shallow so that dry goods can be easily reached. A drop-down shelf functions both as a prep table and, during parties, as a mini wine and cheese bar. Lankford covered the ceiling of the tiny room in mirror—when you look up the effect is like wandering into a wonderful old library alcove where the shelves rise for stories. It’s a fun, fitting detail in this home and kitchen where space seems a medium for enchantment.

Resources for the Richmond Renovation


Scott Lankford, Lankford Design Group: Traverse City, 231-932-0470,

Co-Designer Ken Richmond, AIA, Richmond and Associates Architects: Traverse City, 231-946-0400,


Gerstner Development: Traverse City, 231-409-4100

Cabinetry, Countertops, Backsplash, Hardware

Lankford Design Group: Traverse City, 231-932-0470,


Great Lakes Stainless: Traverse City, 231-943-7648,

Pantry Cabinetry

Gary Bazett: Traverse City, 231-946-9153

Pantry Mirror

TC Mirror and Shower Door: Traverse City, 231-922-2182

French Doors and Transoms

Kolbe & Kolbe, Old Mission Windows: Traverse City, 231-922-5002,


D & W Mechanical


Sub-Zero 700, Max’s Appliance: Traverse City, 231-947-6830,

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