NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

July 24, 2013

What's cooking?

Get a taste of local flavor at the Newburyport Kitchen Tour this weekend

By Ann Reily
Features Editor

---- — Often described as the heart of the home, the kitchen is also at the heart of a tour this weekend in Newburyport.

The Newburyport Elementary PTO is highlighting 13 spaces in its 13th annual Newburyport Kitchen Tour on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Houses on the tour range from Victorian, Greek Revival and Federalist styles to more modern Colonials and Capes, with each kitchen selected based on originality, design and functionality.

Charlie and Michelle Fox’s brick Georgian home on Federal Street was built in 1777. Known as the William Pierce Johnson House, it was restored and updated by the last owner, Marian Leighton Levy, starting in 2003.

“We just got to inherit it,” said Michelle Fox, who moved in with her family in August.

Leighton Levy originally wanted to tear down the room that houses the kitchen, but when she discovered the original roof and crown molding, she realized it was older than the rest of the house and decided to restore it instead, according to Realtor Dolores Person, who previously owned the house and lives next door.

Updates include custom cabinets that mimic the period cabinetry in the rest of the home and a mostly blue color scheme that reflects the historical time period.

“These great, strong colors are true to the house,” said Person, who sponsors the kitchen tour. “The colors are very historically appropriate.”

While Fox admits that she would “never be this brave” about the vibrant colors had they not already been there, she loves living in such a unique space.

“The world’s really Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn right now,” she said.

The centerpiece of the room is an antique dining table with enough chairs for the Foxes and their four daughters, Blaire, 4; Patrice, 5; McKenzie, 8; and Hallie, 16.

“My daughters are going to have a great appreciation of the history,” Michelle Fox said.

Modern touches to the kitchen include the six-burner Viking stove and Sub-Zero refrigerator. There is also radiant heating in the floor, so there are not any furnaces to detract from the room. This feature is particularly loved by the family’s two dogs, Joppa and Dublin, who enjoy stretching out on the tile in both the summer, when the floor is nice and cool, and the winter, when it’s warm and toasty. The children also like that they don’t need to wear their slippers when the temperatures go down, Fox said.

McKenzie said her little sisters’ favorite part of the room seems to be what might be the most modern piece of all: the water cooler. They love putting magnets on its metal sides, she said.

The Foxes have added their own little touches to their new house, including china that mixes with pieces left behind by Leighton Levy.

“Marian left some beautiful pieces that work with the home,” Michelle Fox said. “It’s a good mix now. I feel like we’ve given the house new life.”

During Saturday’s self-guided tour, the Foxes will also open their sitting room, a space believed to be the home’s original kitchen. It includes a built-in cupboard that is echoed in the new kitchen and a large fireplace once used for cooking.

“We absolutely love it,” Michelle Fox said. “We sit by the fire all winter long.”

If you go

What: 13th annual Newburyport Kitchen Tour

When: Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

How much: Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 on the day of the event. They are available online at newburyportkitchentour.com and at Fowles Market, 341 High St.; Newburyport Lighting Co., 38 Merrimac St.; Souffles, 14 Market Square; Lynch Pharmacy, 173 High St.; Plum Island Coffee Roasters, 54R Merrimac St.; and B&G Cabinet, 253 Low St.

On the tour

12 Ocean Ave.

18 Orange St.

20 Magnolia St.

6 Payson St.

10 Jefferson Court

20 Toppans Lane

40 Middle St.

28 Summit Place

17 Federal St.

39 Moseley Ave.

3 Pond St.

287 High St.

35 Moulton St.