Kitchen with a Secret

The showpiece front portion of the Greener/Bertoli kitchen is marked by custom built-and-stained anigre wood cabinetry, a waterfall-edge quartzite island, and an architectural pendant. Door at far left reveals the kitchen’s all-business inner sanctum. (Designer and project manager: Kris Atwood, Atwood: Fine Architectural Cabinetry). Photography by Inspiro 8 Studios

Jon Greener and Ginger Bertoli are passionate about entertaining, and their Cliffs at Walnut Cove home’s clever kitchen was created with this in mind. Beautiful and bold, it holds a significant secret.

According to project designer and fine-cabinetry purveyor Kris Atwood, the feature is becoming increasingly popular: It’s a double kitchen of sorts, which incorporates a public-facing element along with a private one (similar to the idea of an old-fashioned butler’s pantry). 

“The sought-after concept allows a homeowner to enjoy, essentially, both a working kitchen and a ‘show kitchen’ where they can entertain, but still be able to access anything they might need for food preparation, dishwashing, or hosting, for example,” says Atwood, who co-owns Atwood: Fine Architectural Cabinetry with his wife Julie. 

THE BIG REVEAL:The cleverly concealed back kitchen is where the action happens.

Atwood notes that Greener and Bertoli’s public-facing space is functionally equipped with refrigerator, freezer, cooktop, sink, dishwasher, storage pantry, and convection steam oven; the only difference is that it’s all concealed, save for the cooktop and sink, behind stunning and painstakingly rendered cabinetry.

The front kitchen’s clever convection steam oven is an amenity that offers home cooks a multiplicity of advantages, allowing them to cook to restaurant-level effect. “Kris and I got one about six years ago and love it,” says Julie. “The steam ensures that food stays moist and doesn’t dry out, and it speeds up cooking time. We recommend them to all our clients now, and 90 percent of them opt for one.” 

Greener says the inspiration for the butler’s pantry came from a house in South Africa that Bertoli lived in for a time while growing up. “The idea became fully fleshed out, however, when we sat down with Kris, and he launched the idea of including a door to the back kitchen that was completely hidden and faced with cabinetry,” he adds.

The happy surprise (for those in the know) is that it’s also a hideaway to conceal messes while the hosts are socializing. “Used pots and pans and piles of dirty dishes can be whisked away and don’t have to clutter our entertainment space,” explains Greener. 

Bertoli sets the scene, imagining a typical autumn-night dinner of beautifully displayed Beef Bourguignon “that has cooked all day … with bowls warmed in the steam oven hidden below.” Meanwhile, tucked out of sight, are “prepared appetizers in the back refrigerator, fresh bread in the secondary oven, plated salads, and poached pears in mascarpone cream … appearing like magic over the course of the evening.”

But not all the drama happens behind the scenes: Many of the kitchen’s public installations were chosen to command attention. Countertops and an amply sized island with a waterfall edge are made of Indian Crystal Quartzite from Nature of Stone, and an architectural pendant light fixture exudes modern cool. Throw in a dusky, dark-gray glass-tile backsplash (from Stratton Design Group of Skyland), streamlined cabinet hardware, and graceful gooseneck faucets, and the space oozes a breezy beauty. 

Atwood make the kitchen not just usable, but fluid, including drawers devoted to spice storage, customized locations for condiments, and a smart space for paper towels that incorporates extra roll storage and frees up counter space. “Kris even dedicated a built-in space for our dog’s water bowl,” Greener says appreciatively.

“Since the home’s style is contemporary, clean lines were a must for this kitchen design, and in that same vein, we opted for [cabinetry with] flat panels that are an unusual wood called Anigre, with a custom stain,” Atwood comments.

The elegant, uncluttered space was completed in early 2020, and takes advantage of the home site’s surrounding natural beauty, courtesy of a wall of generously sized windows.

Greener and Bertoli enjoyed working with the Atwoods so much, they’re preparing to do it again for another new build. 

“If I had to describe Kris in three words, they’d be ‘meticulous, friendly, and inventive.’ He thought of everything to make this design seamless,” shares Greener. “The planning and engineering involved is tremendous, and he excels at coming up with ideas and solutions down to a sixteenth of an inch.” 


Kitchen design/cabinetry: Atwood: Fine Architectural Cabinetry (Asheville)

Countertops and island top (front kitchen): Nature of Stone (Fletcher)

Tile: Stratton Design Group (Skyland) 

Faucets and fixtures: Ferguson (Asheville)

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