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At Christmas, this family gathers around the gleaming white quartz-topped island in a comfortably elegant kitchen, forks at the ready, with just one thing in mind — a slice of Mom’s banana cream pie.

“I love the aroma of holiday cooking and baking and having the family gathered around. Everyone enjoys my poppy seed bread, but what they wait for is the banana cream pie. They’ll eat it for breakfast,” says the homeowner, laughing.

She wasn’t always so thrilled about preparing meals in her old kitchen with its dark cabinets and small and dated design. The homeowners had moved into the model home in 1983 and didn’t tackle any major remodeling projects until their children were grown. “I started researching kitchen ideas and designing kitchens in my head. After four or five years, we decided the time was now,” she explains.

The kitchen remodel was completed several years ago. Mike Flanscha, a designer with Benton Building Center in Cedar Falls, took her ideas and transformed her vision into a reality.

“Now this kitchen makes me happy every single day. It feels like home to me. I spend so much time there and having such a beautiful kitchen has changed my outlook,” says the homeowner.

One of her main requests was a broad window above the sink that extended down to meet the countertop. The kitchen was extended to make room for family gatherings and create a better traffic flow. She grabbed a can of white paint and painted the dark cabinets. “I wanted white cabinets, but I wanted to live with it a few months to see if I really liked it.”

Satisfied that white would indeed be perfect, new custom cabinets by Shiloh in Arctic white were installed. The oversized island is clad in a jumbo slab of polished quartz. Bar stools in practical yet sophisticated white leather with brass nailhead trim invite guests to linger over another slice of pie.

Bevel-edged quartz tops counters, a complement to the subtle, neutral backsplash composed of natural limestone and glass. Engineered wood keep floors warm underfoot.

White is the perfect backdrop for the homeowner’s seasonal changes, especially for the holidays. Although she doesn’t like to go overboard, red is her go-to color for festive Christmas decorations. The bright contrast against crisp white gives her kitchen “wow” factor.”

Beyond decorating in the kitchen, the homeowner puts up four trees — “and every tree has history. The living room is our main tree … things we’ve collected on our travels, ornaments that remind me of our kids and things we’ve done.

“The ‘decorator’ tree is in the family room, and there’s a fantasy tree for our granddaughter — Barbie and princesses. The dining room tree pays homage to the University of Northern Iowa in purple and white,” she says.

“Most of all, I love having the family gathered around us, enjoying our favorite foods and traditions and each other’s company. Having a wonderful kitchen is restful and peaceful for me.”

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