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Counter space rituals

Busy West Linn dog trainer relies on counter space for her rituals
by: gail emmerson park West Linn interior designer Tamara Griffin straightens a lamp fixture hanging over the short end of a 186-inch-long island and dining table combination.

The home of master dog trainer Shelley Smith has a fresh, new open floor plan. Interior designer Tamara Griffin modernized her West Linn residence.

Smith gives the highest priority to her housemates - two golden retrievers and a black and white cat named Petey. After living in her home for three years, she decided she needed to make better use of her living space. She considered her pets, love of entertaining and splendid view first.

Before the remodel, Smith couldn't see the colorful trees and glistening sunlight just outside her panel windows. Blocked in by a dividing wall and cabinets, her workspace and kitchen were segregated from the dining area and family room. She felt cramped.

Griffin, an 11-year designer and principal owner of Griffin and Gedrose Interior Design, went to work. She prescribed an open plan that fulfilled Smith's desires.

The barriers were removed, and the kitchen was gutted. A long, wide central galley emerged. The new space became the palette for a double-level slate countertop with ample sink and working surface.

Based on the cabinet colors Smith selected, 84- and 60-inch-long islands were constructed. Ivory/chestnut granite with flecks of gold, red and rust natural granite, called Typhoon Bordeaux, were meticulously detailed and installed. Specialty lighting enhances her shimmery stemware in glass-fronted shelves.

According to Griffin, also a West Linn resident, the granite's natural stone pattern was chosen for its 'tolerance yet enriching balance with the cabinetry. The one-of-a-kind stone is artwork. It was inspiration for the rest of the kitchen. It provides lovely color and brings in the color from outside.'

Well versed in interior design, including certification from Beaverton's Heritage School of Interior Design and other specialized design associations, Griffin likes intricate countertop angles and edges. Encouraging Smith to take her kitchen's appearance up a notch, bowed and S-curved end profiles adorn the granite.

'The countertop complements and honors the formal French pedestal dining table,' she says. 'The ogee detail softens the surface edges and (dresses up) the piece. The space is unified. The granite takes center stage.'

A second matching island multiplies the workspace. All the 'housemates' wares, such as bowls and specialty foods, are an arms' length away. A secondary sink, handy for rinsing vegetables, is easy to clean up. Surface heights were determined by use and functionality.

Tile work and backsplashes reflect the countertops' details.

Connected to the shorter breakfast counter is a round 42-inch wooden table. The alder table is used both for dining and business-related work.

Across from the longest island is a new range topped with an alder hood. Acent tile work plays a critical role in tying together the kitchen's elements. Dark chocolate-colored slate, Mysore, surrounds the stovetop. The antiqued texture is mottled, scratch resistant and forgiving.

'It adds sophistication,' says the 47-year-old designer and mother.

Smith's busy schedule requires order and convenience. She utilizes every inch of her 186-inch-long showcase island and table.

Teaching dogs in private and classroom settings, Smith's private retreat is at home. Other updated areas include an animal zone, complete with an out-of-sight kitty litter area, doggy entry room and entertainment center. Her daylight basement is functional, cozy and a nice place to relax and gaze into the garden. The original small house, expanded twice before Smith moved in in August 2008, now has the comforts Smith requires.

'The remodel makes me feel good,' she says. 'My home is my sanctuary. It's important that it reflects the things that make me happy. Everything is easy and convenient.'