Patrick and Sandy Ainslie have two grown children and each of the children love to cook—but in completely different styles. Throw in Patrick and Sandy's own style of entertaining and you have a lot of different cooks using just one kitchen.

Elizabeth, 27, is a gourmet cook—the Thanksgiving dinner she whipped up last year at the family’s Walloon Lake cottage was superb, Sandy says, “but there was nothing that you’d recognize as your typical turkey and stuffing.”

Timothy, 29, specializes in breakfast—a meal that he can handle well despite the fact that he is intellectually challenged. One recent summer weekend at the cottage he treated everyone to a homemade pancake and sausage breakfast.

Patrick and Sandy have their own preferred cooking method for when they are up at the lake: for a houseful. Among the guests they love to entertain are old college friends from the 1970’s (Patrick graduated from University of Michigan; Sandy from Michigan State). “We’re the The Big Chill generation,” says Sandy with a laugh. “We like to pop the soundtrack in and dance while everyone helps clean up.”

Get the full feature with photos of this kitchen designed for many cooks!

Get the full feature with photos of this kitchen designed for many cooks! Buy the October 2009 issue of Traverse and get Northern Home & Cottage with the kitchen designed for many cooks feature!

When the Ainslie’s decided to renovate their 1970’s-era kitchen (Sandy’s description: “Horrible!”) the challenge for kitchen designer Nancy Blandford was clear: outfit a space that makes all the cooks in the family happy. Oh, and imbue the kitchen with the elegant, sophisticated traditional cottagestyle that would blend with the rest of the cottage makeover.

Blandford began with a basic blueprint that opened the kitchen to the great room and its view of and accessibility to Walloon Lake. A generous island created enough workspace for multiple cooks. Setting the cooktop in the island allows the cook to talk to guests in the great room. Since an in-ceiling range hood would block the view, Blandford had a downdraft hood installed that pops out of the island when it is in use and slides back out of view when it isn’t.

Distressed cherry cabinets feel refined but easily disguise wear and tear. Ditto for the contrasting black-distressed island. Contrasting granite countertops complement each other and play off the two cabinetry finishes. But the granite choice is more than décor. It can also stand up to most anything Tim dishes out. “If he puts a hot pan on it doesn’t matter,” Sandy says. “We call that Timmy proof.”

A push-button microwave allows Tim to choose from words like “Beverage” or “Hot Dog” rather than calculate cooking times on his own. Likewise the range is electric to minimize the fire danger if he is cavalier with dishtowels and oven mitts. Elizabeth would have preferred gas—but two convection ovens help make up for that. Since the arsenal of other appliances she uses—Cuisinart, blender, etc.,—could pose dangers to Tim, they are stored behind a handsome, roll-top appliance garage when they aren’t in use. “Out of sight, out of mind,” says Sandy.

A year after the remodel, the ambiance and the workspace are even better than the family dreamed. There’s room for everyone—guests and family, including Elizabeth’s new husband—to pitch in with the cooking and cleanup. And nights when dinner is over and the doors to the patio off the great room are open to the breeze off Walloon Lake, there’s plenty of space for a slow, putting-the-dishes-away boogie to Marvin Gaye’s smooth croon of “Heard it Through the Grapevine,” from that Big Chill soundtrack.

Elizabeth Edwards is managing editor of Northern Home & Cottage.

This Home's Resources

Kitchen Designer and Interior Designer

Nancy Blandford, CMKBD, ASID, Built In Design, Boyne City, 231-582-6961,


David Skornia, David Skornia Builders, Boyne City, 231-582-9944


Crystal Cabinetry,, through Built In Design, Boyne City, 231-582-6961,


Todd Brown, Residential Specalties, Petoskey, 231-838-0897


Granite; Copper Canyon and Silver Taupe, Dwyer Marble, Farmington Hills, 248-476-4944,


Marble Era Products Inc.,


Tumbled Marble/Metal


Dino Franchino, Boyne City. 231-675-1832


Top Knobs,


Chelsea Hardwood, Northern Michigan Hardwoods, Petoskey, 231-347-4575,


Kitchen Aid,, through Built In Design, Boyne City, 231-582-6961,

Main Sink





Hudson Valley, All Phase Electric,


Benjamin Moore,

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