Cooking With Essence

Kitchen redo invites visitors to let go and just be
Packard Cabinetry installed an open, soft,  bright array of cabinetry to capture the serenity of the space.
Photo by David Dietrich

Legally speaking, Katie Woods is the owner of 50 forested acres in Zirconia. But spiritually speaking, no part of this property — not the modish home overlooking a pond nor the footpaths trailing through laurels — are hers alone. 

“I’m just the caretaker,” Woods says of her estate, which previously served as Tigg’s Pond Retreat Center, a refuge for spiritual reflection.

Woods felt the home’s otherworldly pull as soon as she stepped over the threshold. During the first walkthrough, a force — “call it God, the universe, or Mother Gaia” — kept feeding her signs that this property was “the one.” First, the clock in the upstairs bedroom hesitated at 1:11 p.m. Later, for some indiscernible reason, the thermostat read 111 — which is also the house number. 

“These synchronistic things kept happening,” says Woods. “I decided I would take care of this property for however long I walked the earth.”

This is why, when she retired to Henderson County in 2018, Woods decided to remedy the kitchen. 

Though functional, the room did not exude the same calming ethos as the rest of the residence and landscape. The space felt frenetic, thanks in part to open shelving that crowded three generous windows. A previous owner had also repurposed oak flooring from an original building on the property for the cabinet faces and island. 

“It was a clever idea,” Woods says, “but to me, it felt a little heavy.” 

Rustic applications of wood, including barnwood timbers by SowRay Construction, are meant to “retain the essence” of Southern Appalachia.
Photo by David Dietrich

She craved more levity. “I wanted the kitchen to be a bright, uncluttered, clean space that reflected the essence of the home, property, and surrounding neighborhood,” explains Woods. 

With this in mind, she sought counsel from Beck Karges and Bettina Seifts, designers at Packard Cabinetry in Hendersonville. During the visioning process, Karges and Seifts agreed that the space could be opened up dramatically without changing the footprint, ripping out the original hardwood flooring, or interfering with the skylights. However, the bulky oak-faced cabinets would need to go.

Instead, the two designers suggested Hudson inset cabinets from Rutt HandCrafted Cabinetry in New Holland, Pennsylvania. “Their finishes are impeccable,” Karges says of the supplier. “The makers are engineers, first and foremost. They meticulously go over every design with a fine-tooth comb.”

The cabinets, which were installed by SowRay Construction in Laurel Park, were painted “White Dove” — a soft shade by Benjamin Moore — and finished with antique pewter pulls from Top Knob. The rest of the space also received a coat of ivory, from the ceilings to the baseboards. 

Even the Calacatta Gold quartz countertops, which look convincingly like marble, are white. According to Nick Anderson, a manager with Integrity Marble and Granite in Forest City, the counters “are resistant to scratching, etching, and pithing.” 

However functional, Woods’ kitchen could have easily felt sterile if not for a barnwood island crafted by Connecticut artist Scott Killian and three barnwood beams installed by SowRay Construction. 

“They are authentic, with notches and holes as evidence of how they were hand-hewn decades ago,” Woods says of the timbers. “They make the kitchen.”

But the beams are about more than good looks. A Maryland native and Florida transplant, Woods expresses awareness of her newly arrived status, acknowledging “the amount of change the area has seen over the recent past. I feel for those who have lived here for generations.”

Incorporating barnwood was an attempt to “retain the essence” of southern Appalachia and, in doing so, create a cooking space “where people can find a bit of their own true, original essence.” 

Those same people “invariably feel the peace and serenity that this land offers,” says Woods. “I have seen visitor after visitor get this stillness about them. They stop for a moment — or more — and just soak up the ambiance. It’s a place that invites one to let go and just be.”

Packard Cabinetry: Custom Kitchen Cabinetry in NY and NC, 416 South King St., Hendersonville. For more information, call 828-393-3082 or see


Kitchen Design Consultation: Packard Cabinetry, Beck Karges and Bettina Seifts, Hendersonville.

Cabinets: Packard Cabinetry, Hendersonville. (Rutt HandCrafted Cabinetry), installed by SowRay Construction, Laurel Park. 

Countertops: Integrity Marble and Granite, Forest City. 

Appliances: Jeff Lynch, Greenville, SC. 

Barnwood Timbers: SowRay Construction, Laurel Park. 

Kitchen Island: Scott Killian, Vernon, CT.

0 replies on “Cooking With Essence”