Piecing Together the Perfect Kitchen
The kitchen is considered the heart of a home. And for good reason. A space built for cooking, eating, and conversing, the kitchen sustains families by providing a spot for daily connection. It’s the first place we connect in the morning, often the first place we come to decompress after work, and it sees many-an-evening filled with homework, good smells, toasts, and entertaining. In many ways, the kitchen binds families together, and, as we learned from our kitchen specialists, it does the same for homes
Whether you’re doing a new build or updating your existing kitchen, the choices on the market are very different than they were, even ten years ago. Appliances have adapted to smarter energy use and to healthier lifestyles. Johnson Brothers and URBAN HERITAGE/ROCKY MOUNTAIN HARDWARE both have local storefronts and showrooms with a strong selection of the best products on the market. Michael Wilkins Construction gives insight to the benefits of taking the time to make your current house into the dream house it can be with a mindful remodel.
Johnson Brothers Appliances
The Life of the Party- Appliances for Every Occasion
As trends shift to looking at better preparation of meals instead of less time until a meal is ready, kitchens are catching up. From materials to appliances, you have the option to improve your daily choices for better food and easier clean-up.
Steam ovens are becoming more popular and available. Heat from the oven converts water into steam. Food cooked in steam retains more moisture than when cooked in a conventional oven. Not only will you find the dish more succulent to the taste but when tested side by side, a steam oven will retain more vitamins and minerals than boiling or cooking in a conventional oven. A hybrid convection and steam oven will allow you to use both methods, allowing the option for higher temperatures and browner meats when cooking in the convection oven. The top-of-the-line Wolf Convection Steam Oven is one example. And you can see it live at Johnson Brothers Appliances, where the new showroom and warehouse spaces offer 30,000 square feet of selection.
Johnson Brothers Appliances has operated in Bend for over half a century. The new showroom is only evidence of Bend’s recent growth. “It has changed significantly over the years. Bend back in 1950 was a small town. Our current location was in the middle of sagebrush then. I think when I graduated high school here the population was around 25,000 people. Now, we’re pushing a 100,000. So, we’re still a small town as far as cities go, but we’ve grown considerably in the last 20 years,” says Dave Johnson.
Johnson Brothers Appliances was founded in 1950 by Vernon and Charcelene Johnson. They founded a home products store as an extension of Vern’s general contracting business. But soon “The Home Center,” as it was originally known, began specializing in home appliances. Over the years, JBA has served the appliance needs of the tri-county area, and in the process, they have stayed at the forefront of how lifestyles impact appliances choices, and more so, making sure there’s someone close by to service the product.
“I think it’s important to always consider the consumer perspective. It’s interesting for them to hear about different options, for example in kitchen products, and to consider what they have done or would like to be doing in the kitchen. With cooking styles changing, appliances are changing. There are always improvements being made,” says Johnson.
According to Johnson, there are a lot of options out there, and a quick tour around the Bend showroom proves it. These days, a residential home can easily source a professional range. “You can get the pro range built-in look, but you can also get the cleanability and efficiency as well as the rapid boil of induction surface cooking. Wolf makes a 36-inch induction range that’s displayed in our showroom,” explains Johnson.
“I think it’s important to always consider the consumer perspective. It’s interesting for them to hear about different options…and to consider what they have done or would like to be doing in the kitchen. With cooking styles changing, appliances are changing. There are always improvements being made.”
–Dave Johnson, Owner, Johnson Brothers Appliances
Another readily available appliance category is steam ovens, although Johnson doesn’t think they are quite mainstream yet. “We are seeing a number of high-end homes integrating steam as the cooking method of choice. There are dedicated steam ovens that use just steam to do all the cooking. Then there’s also a combination speed oven that incorporates more traditional cooking. It comes with regular bake and broil elements as well as the steam generator. It gives you some great versatility. The steam cooking is amazing, and it’s quicker because you get a much faster thermal transfer,” explains Johnson.
Johnson says the real perk is how you can cook the entire meal all at once. “You can be cooking your rice on the lower pan, a fillet of salmon on the middle pan, and your asparagus and veggies on the top. You won’t get any flavor transfer, and they all finish at the same time,” says Johnson. Steaming food is not a new technique. The Chinese have been using bamboo steamers for dim sum for thousands of years. With the food not having direct contact with water but contained in the bamboo vessel, more vitamins and minerals remain in the food. Cooking with wet heat also prevents stickiness and removes the need to grease a pan with butter and oil.
Getting every single detail correct is inherent in JBA’s philosophy. Their core values of positivity, respect, integrity, diligence, and excellence come from the company’s original foundational statement: “We strive to cultivate long-term customer relationships, professional growth, and teamwork by prioritizing our core values in everything we do.” And that’s what they have done for three generations. With over 200 years combined experience on their team, JBA is not just the easy destination to find appliances, it’s the destination of choice.
JBA may carry just about everything on the market if it’s worth installing in your home. From AGA to Alfresco to Gaggenau to Sub-Zero and Liebherr, you would be hard pressed to find a better selection of appliances, mattresses, and grills. Their new showroom is one of the largest in the tri-county area, featuring both high-end premium brands and some of the more mainline brands to offer options at a lower price point. Johnson says, “We are able to really give people a spectrum and show them the different options across the board.”
Johnson says most of their work is residential with a few commercial projects here and there. The best indication of JBA’s is that on the recent Central Oregon Builders Association Home Tour, Johnson Brothers Appliances supplied appliances to 70% of the homes on the 54-site tour. “That’s a good sign,” says Johnson.
One of the reasons everyone in Bend is heading to JBA is not just their product selection but their general know-how in the industry. “If we get to be a part of a design project early enough in the process, sometimes we are able to provide some input. The exterior of the house is based on the shape and the architectural design, but within the kitchen itself, we can possibly move the refrigerator around or make that one recommendation over another to suit the client’s lifestyle, like adding a second dishwasher for someone who hosts a lot of parties and needs a dishwasher dedicated to stemware,” says Johnson.
Aside from a talented team of service and salespeople and a decadent showroom, Johnson Brothers Appliances may have the best prices in town, and an annual sale that beats the band. The JBA Annual Sale this year will be September 26-28. It’s an ideal opportunity for the more economy-minded customer to score a deal on an older, high-end model.
Michael Wilkins construction
renovation & modernization
The architecture in many of the homes in Bend, Oregon, historically a mill town, often reflects the thick wooden trim, exposed beams, and built-ins associated with a Craftsman-style house. While these attributes are perfect for some homeowners, others may find themselves struggling to decide—does the great location of a home outweigh the fact that its design and finishes aren’t exactly my taste?
For those individuals, Mike Wilkins is here to help. Wilkins, a licensed contractor for nearly 20 years, enjoys the challenges of renovation and modernization projects. “As Bend grows and the demographic of the area changes, people’s wants and needs are changing as well,” says Wilkins. “We are seeing a lot of projects reflecting more industrial, urban architecture. And I want to help homeowners make whatever upgrades and changes that will make their houses feel like a perfect fit for their families.”
Like many currently relocating to Bend, Wilkins and his wife, Tonna, moved to the area years ago to raise their family and take advantage of the outdoor opportunities and lifestyle that Bend provides. Wilkins is grounded. His manner is calm and steadfast. When you talk to him, you know you’re working with someone who will ask the right questions to get the desired outcome.
“Oftentimes I find that it may be difficult for a client to grasp the project in its entirety or articulate all
of their needs in the beginning. That’s why I’m here. I can anticipate things they may not have considered and do my best to guide them through the process.”
–Mike Wilkins, Owner, Michael Wilkins Construction
“I have an initial meeting with the clients to discuss their design vision, timeline, and budget,” says Wilkins. “Oftentimes I find that it may be difficult for a client to grasp the project in its entirety or articulate all of their needs in the beginning. That’s why I’m here. I can anticipate things they may not have considered and do my best to guide them through the process. I want to ensure that the finished result is going to be exactly what they’re looking for.”
And with remodels, Wilkins explains that the process is a little different than with a new build. “Since we already know what the current home looks like, it’s my job to help clients visualize changes they might consider making—help them determine what will make the space more functional for them.” According to Wilkins, there’s a definite shift towards open floor plans that incorporate more modern and eclectic features.
Remodels don’t necessarily mean losing a wing of the house, but making simple changes that have big impacts. Solid surface quartz countertops, appliance upgrades, and new flooring are some ways to really transform a room. Cabinet modifications like white lacquer finishes and new hardware also offer great opportunities to brighten a space. And don’t forget lighting. Whether it’s adding LED under-cabinet lighting or finding a pendant to accent a room, lighting can deliver results.
Bend has a number of older neighborhoods with some great real estate opportunities. And Wilkins believes that turning a great buy into a great home just means investing some time in updates. “Many of these older homes have great potential, and are often located in terrific areas,” says Wilkins. “But I think some of them are a little dated. They tend to be more closed off, especially the kitchens and living rooms, which might be unappealing to some buyers. However, depending on what the structure of the home is like, we can usually open up those spaces and create a fresh, new look.”
“So many times the clients and I become friends…We get to see them celebrating where they live. Maybe that’s what I enjoy the most about building, the finished product can affect so many people in so many positive ways.”
–Mike Wilkins, Owner, Michael Wilkins Construction
Wilkins is clearly a hands-on contractor with an exceptional crew supporting each jobsite, but it’s not just his work ethic that propels such good outcomes, it is his passion for the work itself. “I really enjoy doing remodels. I like working on a home that is not well-laid-out or dated, and seeing the transformation. There’s something special about the process of taking a space that is less than ideal and turning it into something that is stylish and unique, something the clients are really happy with in the end,” says Wilkins.
Relationships are a big part of Wilkins’ mission. Building, be it new construction or a remodel, is an intimate process that works best when there is clear communication and collaboration. Wilkins is committed to knowing as much as possible about his clients so that in the end, they get what they were hoping for. “So many times the clients and I become friends,” says Wilkins. “My wife and I will end up having dinner at their house and having the opportunity to see them enjoying their remodel, which is a really rewarding experience. We get to see them celebrating where they live. Maybe that’s what I enjoy the most about building; the finished product can affect so many people in so many positive ways.”
urban heritage/rocky mountain hardware
Rock Solid Hardware
“I have worked with great architects, designers, and builders and have been exposed to many products and quality finishes, but the best I have ever encountered is Rocky Mountain Hardware.”
–Tom Clarke, Founder, Urban Heritage
Hardware may seem like a small detail when it comes to choosing finishes for your home; however, it is one of the most visually and tactically crucial components to completing a design. Urban Heritage prides themselves on their attention to detail, bringing that detail from the showroom straight into your home. As the exclusive dealer of Rocky Mountain Hardware in Central Oregon, Urban Heritage is proud to solely carry this unique product, focusing on its accessibility, high-quality finishes, green sensibility, and above all, its reputation as a design solution that continues to stand above the rest. The Bend showroom is located inside the new Formations building downtown, across from Sparrow Bakery. When you stop into the showroom, you will find a uniquely inspiring experience as you make your way through the many selections of handles, lighting, entry sets, and home accessories.
The Formations building provides a collaborative workspace and conference area, making it the ideal place to brainstorm your design inspiration with one of Urban Heritage’s design consultants. Tom Clarke, the founder of Urban Heritage, says there is not another product like RMH on the market based on beauty, quality, and function.
“I have worked with great architects, designers, and builders and have been exposed to many products and quality finishes, but the best I have ever encountered is Rocky Mountain Hardware,” says Clarke. He began this venture in 2002, knowing this product needed to be available to those looking to build in beautiful Central Oregon. “We know our products backwards and forwards. We go to the job site. We walk the site and work with a range of experts before we write a hardware schedule,” says Clarke. With a background in construction, the team at Urban Heritage is able to provide ongoing support beginning with the order inquiry, all the way through installation.
The nine shipping containers that fill the Old Ironworks building reinforce the ethical foundation behind the RMH brand. This “recycled” architecture is a perfect fit for RMH products, as each of RMH’s products contains at least 90% post-consumer recycled bronze. This refers to metal that has already been used at least once and would be otherwise headed for the landfill. All the sand used in the casting process is also reused, resulting in zero waste. RMH even recycles the bronze chips and grinding dust, ensuring there’s no byproduct from the manufacturing process.
Rocky Mountain Hardware was founded by Mark and Patsy Nickum in Sun Valley, Idaho, and remains a family business today with their headquarters in nearby Hailey, Idaho. Originally hardware vendors who managed a higher-end showroom, they could not ignore the demand of products that designers, architects, and custom home builders were seeking. So, they took a leap of faith, and launched into manufacturing with a business philosophy of “never say no.”
Each RMH piece is hand cast to order from art-grade bronze. Bronze casting, an ancient technique, offers a rustic, mountain feel. Patinas and textures maintain singularity and spirit, providing an elegant continuity for a home from handle to fixture. The bronze is polished, but its maturation does not stop after installation. All pieces will adopt and age with their environments, ensuring a one-of-a-kind feel in every design, whether the piece is custom or from one of their 24 collections. In addition to their custom production and 24 available collections, RMH has also paired with several artisans to create four distinct Artisan Collaborations. For one of their artisan lines, they partnered with musician, actor, and designer Lenny Kravitz. RMH and Kravitz teamed up to create Trousdale in 2003, inspired by the noted Trousdale Estates neighborhood in Beverly Hills, an enclave of mid-century modern homes from the 1950s and ‘60s made famous by its celebrity residents.
“Details matter in custom interiors—a beautifully rendered handle is both visually and TACTUALLY satisfying. Distinctive lighting, whether rustic, modern, or somewhere in between, is warmer and richer in a living finish.”
––Pamela Armstrong, Owner, Pamela Armstrong Design Studio
There’s no denying the beauty in RMH’s products, and local designer and showroom neighbor, Pamela Armstrong of Pamela Armstrong Design Studio, agrees with Clarke that there are no other comparable products on the market. “I visited the Rocky Mountain Hardware facility and foundry, knowing I loved their designs having specified them in many custom residences through the years. I came away from my tour inspired by RMH’s ever-evolving artistic expression and “never say no” philosophy, a deeper appreciation for the care and attention given to the creation of every cast bronze piece, and a profound respect for the culture of the company,” says Armstrong.
Clarke and Armstrong both agree that small details are incredibly important. “Details matter in custom interiors—a beautifully rendered handle is both visually and tactually satisfying. Distinctive lighting, whether rustic, modern, or somewhere in between, is warmer and richer in a living finish,” says Armstrong. RMH’s team is comprised of artisans, fabricators, and engineers who ensure that the aesthetic quality matches the longevity of the products, which all come with a lifetime guarantee. In other words, every piece is essentially as rock-solid as it gets.