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A Classic Approach
By Carol McGarvey | Photography by Tim Abramowitz
home :: home & garden :: featured remodels

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Kitchen remodel in Ankeny puts forth a calm vibe.

Is it possible to create a modern and freshly remodeled kitchen and still give it a rich and classic look? Put that question to Jo and Merritt Krause of Ankeny and their remodeling contractor, Jesse Bryngelson of Bryngelson Builders of Johnston. You’ll get a resounding “absolutely” from them.

The couple’s home was built in 1991; they moved into it two years later. Bike rides around this neighborhood convinced them this was the home they wanted. Fast-forward to a couple years ago, and it was time for a kitchen upgrade. “There were white cabinets, black countertops, and an island that wasn’t big enough. Plus, I had a small desk in the kitchen, and I admit it was always messy,” Jo says. “We just wanted a new look.”

Serendipity and word-of-mouth played a big part in finding a remodeling contractor to handle the project. Merritt, who was formerly the head of the Iowa Bankers Insurance and Services, was at Bob Brown GMC to deal on purchasing fleet cars for the organization. He mentioned to the salesman, Pat O’Brien, that he was thinking about remodeling the kitchen. O’Brien said he had had a wonderful experience with Bryngelson. A connection was made.


“We had two meetings on the kitchen to learn what Jo and Merritt wanted,” Bryngelson says. He learned that Merritt wanted a wine refrigerator and a television mounted near the ceiling in the kitchen. Jo wanted to redo the pantry, changing it from a small reach-in style to a built-in cabinet version. She also wanted a spot for keeping track of daily activities without having a full desk.

For cabinets, the choice was a soft gray (called Oyster) that are Shaker style and go all the way to the ceiling, giving more storage space than before. Countertops are quartz with a gray swirl on white, which gives a marble look.

The extra-large kitchen island measures 8½ feet by 3½ feet. It features storage on both sides, along with room for two counter stools with low backs, which the couple uses as seating for lunch. The wine refrigerator is in one end of the island. Stephanie Burris of CKF was the kitchen designer.

Jo lost some inefficient pantry space and gained two corner lazy Susans. She also switched to a gas range with a sleek stainless range hood to match KitchenAid stainless appliances.


On either side of the range are pull-out narrow doors. One side is for spices; the other holds kitchen gadgets in deep containers. That way, there are no collections of utensils, such as spatulas and wooden spoons, sitting on the counter. And, instead of a full-size microwave oven, she opted for a compact one at cabinet-door height.

For the sink, the new look is made of a granite composite, interesting in its style of having a very low central divider. That gives the appearance of a much larger sink.

Jo chose a dark wood-grain vinyl flooring. “It is darker than our previous wood flooring. If I made a mistake anywhere, it’s that I wish I hadn’t gone so dark. It’s harder to clean and shows everything,” she says.

The backsplash in a natural-marble herringbone pattern featuring white and several shades of gray adds a subtle punch of color and also a bit of a classic detail. Walls are a darker gray.

“One important detail we added was to locate the outlets in custom undercabinet strips. This creates a smooth, uninterrupted pattern on the backsplash,” Bryngelson explains.

A point of conversation always, Jo says, involves the three brushed-nickel spiral-design pendants over the island. “Everyone wants to know where they came from. I must have looked at 5,000 lights in person and online but kept going back to these. They are neat and classy, and I just like them.” They came from


A major component of this project worked out for both sides. Jo and Merritt always go to Palm Desert, California, for part of the winter, so they were gone when most of the kitchen work was done. “From our standpoint, it was good that we didn’t have to live through the demolition and installation and the mess,” they say with a chuckle.

Bryngelson agrees. “From our perspective, we could work without bothering the homeowners. We talked about twice a week, and I sent photos often, so it worked out well. The process was very smooth. They were amazing to work with, and it was gratifying to have it all ready for them when they returned home.”

Bryngelson has been in business for 13 years. “I grew up helping my dad in Marshalltown. He was a commercial contractor and also did residential remodeling. I’ve been exposed to various scopes of construction through my life. That well-rounded education serves me well as a remodeling contractor today. My dad enjoys driving to the Des Moines area to work with me on my projects. We have come full circle.”

“I can’t say enough about how everything turned out,” Jo says. “I absolutely love it.”


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