That's one of the more important objectives that homeowners Cheryll and Ron Cockran were going for when they underwent a major remodel of their home at Ash Creek Woods
by: Gail Park, THE PLAN MAN – Licensed contractor Bill Fletcher is the expediter of his wife Pamela’s interior design plans.

Cheryll Cockran was ready for a change. After living in her Ash Creek Woods home for 17 years, she and her husband, Pastor Ron, wanted to brighten things up.

The Cockrans updated their bathroom, fireplace surround, carpeting, tilework, hardwood floors and, most noticeably, their kitchen.

'I wanted a cheerful, peaceful and happy feeling in the kitchen,' Cheryll says. 'I wanted it to feel nice when we walk into it in the morning.'

Cheryll thought her kitchen was too dark. It felt small and closed-in. It seemed to be shortchanged and didn't match the grand style of the rest of the home with its high ceilings and plenty of elbow room. Food prep space was at a premium. It was drab. Everything was encased in white. Even the staircase balusters were white.

Interior designer Pamela Fletcher and her contractor husband Bill added punch to the cooking area. The co-owners of Garden Home Interiors turned up the user-friendly qualities in the room, while fashioning a warm, welcoming feeling. The room is no longer commonplace.

From the start, the Fletchers knew the mid-size kitchen could not transform into a spacious gourmet kitchen. But with the right changes, they could almost double the amount of storage space and improve its appeal.

'It was a challenge because the space was tight, about 12 by 14 feet,' recalls Bill, who oversees the business's projects and keeps them on schedule.

Bill's reliable subcontractors gutted the entire kitchen down to the bare wood. New cabinets and stainless steel appliances were placed in strategic locations to create additional counterspace. The room came to life by removing an outdated drop ceiling that enclosed a fluorescent light fixture. A 4-foot by 4-foot skylight replaced the dingy old feature and infused the area with a cheerful glow.

'I love my skylight,' applauds Cheryll. 'I love the natural light.'

Wall color added the tranquil and happy ambience Cheryll had hoped for.

'Cheryll was resistant to color,' says Pamela. 'She had been surrounded by white for so long. She was also concerned about moving the refrigerator. She was accustomed to the way things were.'

Fabulous color can breath life into any room and, in Cheryll's case, a delicate periwinkle fit the bill.

'Cheryll wears a lot of periwinkle and looks real good in the color. It was a stretch for her, but after seeing an area of her wall with a sample of the color, she warmed up to it.'

A dozen recessed can lights and under-cabinet illumination were installed to add controlled lighting and to soften the rich color. An up-run of cabinets over a peninsula was removed entirely. The cook can now be seen from the dining nook. A breakfast bar brings friends and family closer to the work area to help, eat or chat. Useless enclosed space over the original cabinets was utilized with new to-the-ceiling hickory cabinetry.

To bring Pamela's kitchen design plan to life, Pamela and Cheryll went shopping a lot. Pamela buys locally, so she knows the stock is available.

She doesn't waste time browsing. She knows what will pull a design together. Cheryll saw the options, and Pamela was glad to incorporate the owner's ideas into the scheme.

Choosing granite for the countertops and backsplash took time. Success came in the form of 'Blue Eyes,' a primary black and gray slate with flecks of iridescent cobalt that dance in the light.

'I love the granite,' smiles Cheryll. From some angles the blue specks are invisible. The shimmery flecks can be seen when one moves about the room.

A new sink, set lower than its granite frame, makes counter cleanup easy.

'No more cleaning between tiles. I just wipe and polish.'

The icing on the cake comes in the form of handset tiles. Four metallic cobalt blue glass squares are set in pewter - each totaling one tile. Cast into the stovetop's backsplash, the blue reflects around the shiny burners.

The Fletchers completed the projects throughout the home in approximately eight weeks. During the demolition, Pastor Ron, who has been the 'music pastor' for 17 years at Portland Christian Center, and Cheryll left town for a music event.

Garden Home Interiors is unique in that the design team covers all the bases when it comes to answering a homeowner's dream. The couple spends a lot of time with the owners and completely understand what they are looking for. The challenge of each job and the different styles and looks their customers request makes their jobs interesting and enjoyable. They have been in business in Garden Home, Progress and Raleigh Hills since 1976.

Their first storefront was near Lamb's Thriftway, and after three years there they moved to Progress. Between 1989 and 2004 they had a retail presence on Scholls Ferry near Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway. Today they serve customers from their Garden Home residence of 31 years.

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