Tom and Tessa Aydelotte of Bainbridge Island know their way around a kitchen. The couple own two restaurants, Doc’s Marina Grill on Bainbridge Island and in Port Townsend, and their livelihood is all about food.
So, when their thoughts turned to updating their circa 1925 home, they naturally put food preparation first. And, since part of the joy of making food is sharing food, the Aydelottes next focused on big, comfortable spaces for relaxing and entertaining.
Anyone familiar with Doc’s of Bainbridge knows that part of the fun is the restaurant’s marina-view deck, partially covered for outdoor dining nine months of the year. Deciding the idea was too good to leave at work, the Aydelottes first made plans to turn a postage-stamp, second-story deck into an outdoor room for cooking and dining. Now much too grand to be termed merely “a deck,” the area is divided into a covered outdoor kitchen and a hot tub space that’s open to the sky.
The cover itself is a handsome, hefty roof that Tom Aydelotte designed — along with the entire deck. Six skylights are set within clear cedar planking that the couple and a friend installed. Aydelotte also wired all the lighting and audio.
For the decking, they chose Azek composite. It was a decision made by Tessa Aydelotte, who experienced first-hand the challenge of natural ipe, their second choice. After cleaning and resealing the ipe cap rail on the couple’s boat, she voted for low-maintenance composite, which requires only an annual pressure washing to look good as new.
Beneath the cover, the space is split into a dining area with room to seat a large gathering, and a cooking center complete with bar seating, wine cooler, Lapitec commercial-grade countertops, all the amenities of an indoor kitchen, and more.
A built-in, 36-inch grill with rotisserie has a propane-saving timer that can shut off the tank. The couple celebrate their love of fresh-caught crab and shrimp with a dedicated outdoor crab cooker. A countertop smoker is used for salmon, pork and the occasional Thanksgiving turkey.
The Camp Chef pizza oven wasn’t intended to be permanent; they originally planned for a wood-fired, brick version. However, the little oven proved its worth and the idea of a bulkier oven has been put on the back burner, even though — as Tom Aydelotte says — the deck was structured for the weight and could support a Volkswagen.
The eye-catching bar counter and 10-foot-long outdoor table are fashioned from live-edge (bark-on) African sapele purchased from Edensaw of Port Townsend and finished by the Aydelottes. For the railing, unobtrusive cable rail was the obvious choice for noninterference with the leafy, bird-haven backyard enjoyed by those lounging or cooking on the deck.
The Aydelottes claim it as their sanctuary. The restaurant business is a passion project for Tom Aydelotte, and he enjoys the hours he spends in restaurants — his and others — but sometimes you just need to grill a salmon, swirl a glass of wine and listen to the wind in the trees.
When it came to the interior makeover, there were challenges. At the time the remodel began in 2015, the house was 90 years old. Houses of that age were built when two-by-fours were truly 2-by-4 inches, lumber not available as stock today.
Dave Godbolt of Bainbridge Island’s Sentinel Construction cut through the complications, acquiring custom-cut lumber and beefing up the subfloor to support the weight of tile flooring. Other structural changes included removal of a centrally set basement stairway that resulted in a cohesive great room.
The Aydelottes had a look in mind. Their new interior would have a dash of midcentury modern with its clean, functional simplicity. The couple also incorporated several admirable ideas garnered from their trips to Germany to visit the family of an exchange student Tom Aydelotte sponsored 20 years ago. German kitchens, he explains, are both progressive and efficient.
Finally, there would be homage to the outdoors. The natural elegance of the sapele surfaces outdoors are echoed indoors in a moabi counter; a slab of the same material on a barn door track serves as an organic closet door at the entry. In the living room, the concrete fireplace by Ryan McPhail of Fluid Concrete Design of Bainbridge displays the natural wood texture of the form boards.
Moreover, the passageway from the interior dining area to the deck is a 9-foot-long, three-stage glass pocket door by La Cantina. When open, this feature recedes completely into the wall, blurring the line between indoors and out.
As for the kitchen, Tom Aydelotte wanted a large, open space with lots of storage and room for at least three people to work without bumping each other. Simple, clean-lined cabinets are by Bellmont Cabinet Co. of Sumner. The ceramic tile floor was the deal of the day at $1.25 per foot from Emser Tile of Tukwila. The 20-inch tiles are elegant without stealing the show, and even more appealing for being heated to 80 degrees. The Wolf induction cooktop was one of the great ideas the Aydelottes brought home from Germany.
Another striking element inspired by the couple’s European experience is a seamless, stainless-steel countertop on the kitchen island. This custom covering by Miller Sheetmetal of Bremerton incorporates a sink with hands-free faucet that can be turned on and off with the brush of a forearm. Best of all, the countertop is heated to avoid cold arms for those who hang out to admire the skills of the cook.
Above the island, a Zephyr range hood in a coved ceiling provides not just ventilation but delineation between the kitchen and living room. With its elliptical form and soft underlighting, the cove lends a visual contrast to the otherwise low ceiling of the great room as well as the preponderance of right angles.
The choice of light fixtures gave the Aydelottes further opportunity to add curvature to their quadrilateral kitchen. Above the moabi counter, they installed a sinuous wave of a pendant light from Alibaba.com. The couple went online again, this time to Lamps Plus, for the “Sputnik” lamp above the dining room table, which they chose for its Euro design and ceiling-hugging position above the room’s lines of sight.
Whether at work or at home, Tom and Tessa Aydelotte put a priority on food and the people they serve it to. Nowhere is that more apparent than in their two new home kitchens and the comfortable spaces that surround them. The couple knows that sometimes the most important entertaining you can do is entertaining yourself.