Winter 2023 - Phoenix/Talent, from tragedy to revival

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Function & Beauty - A Vineyard Family's Remodel

Function & Beauty 

A vineyard family’s remodel

Story by Mary Ann Bullard

Photography by Timothy Bullard

Fine wines and quality craftsmanship come naturally to Judy and Cal Schmidt. The owners of Schmidt Family Vineyards recently remodeled their kitchen and applied the same degree of excellence in the renovation as they do in their varietals. Their home, built in 1950, lies nestled in pristine surroundings on 75-acres in the Applegate Valley and reflects the Schmidt’s love of nature and wood. “We do like wood—we live in the Pacific Northwest, and it just fits,” Judy says, standing in her warm kitchen.   

Cal and his grandson worked on the 300-square-foot kitchen themselves, shaping it into the desired workspace both Judy and Cal envisioned. “This place was a cracker box when we bought it and didn’t have a working kitchen,” says Cal. “It had been torn out for a remodel, but nothing had been done with it.”

Cal emphasizes the key to a good kitchen design is functionality. “First figure out how you are going to use it, figure out your work centers. You’d be surprised at the number of people who don’t even know how to use a kitchen. Spacing is important. You can’t have wide open spaces because then you’re walking too much.” 

The fact that Cal owns the cabinet shop Northwestern Design in Grants Pass and has been working with wood since 1972 certainly facilitated the project. “I design everything and Judy blesses it,” chuckles the soft-spoken man. “I taped out the floor and we walked around it for three or four weeks before I did the final design.” Cal crafted the beadboard and breakfront cabinets from red oak, and the complimenting glue chip glass within gives the total look an antique flair.

 “We spend 90 percent of our time in the kitchen. We watch TV and listen to audio books while we’re cooking,” Cal says, then adds, smiling, “and we like to eat.” Judy agrees, “It’s a working kitchen—we use it, it’s functional.” That function is manifested in several features including the large maple butcher block with convenient sink in the center island. “If I’m chopping vegetables I don’t have to move. The refrigerator is right there, the chopping board is there,” Cal says. 

“One of the goals with the kitchen remodel was to get light in,” Judy explains. So instead of upper cabinets, there are spacious windows. The original eight-foot ceiling was raised to 24-feet. Solar tube and sky light treatments allow plenty of sunshine to illuminate the room and 500-watt theater lighting provides bright glow at night. The fixtures are well planned, and each one can be dimmed. “When I look for fixtures I make sure they work. You can buy a lot of stuff that looks good but isn’t very functional,” Cal says. A large black chandelier compliments the entire room. “Usually they have all this gaudiness on it, but this one is nice and simple,” Judy says.  

Another focal point is the large range. Cal had a commercial hood adapted for domestic use. Shiny pans and colorful implements hang neatly above the range like a French restaurant. “We like the ambiance of hanging our cookware where you can see it and not hide it in a drawer where we can’t find them.” Judy adds, “We stayed in a chateau in Southern France last year with some winemakers and their kitchen had stuff hanging everywhere—it was most wonderful and charming. I love that look.” 

Since Judy is a baker and cheese maker, Cal was sure to manifest his ideal of function, as well as style, into efficient space for his wife of 51-years. He crafted a special area for Judy’s appliances, ingredients and bakeware, which features a turntable and pullout shelves 

Walking on the homey kitchen floor is a comfy experience, especially in winter. Cal installed travertine radiant heat flooring. He tore down to the subfloor, laid all the tubing, then poured an inch and a half concrete on top of the subfloor. Water heats the concrete, making for toasty tootsies on chilly days.   

“We have a big family—two children, eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, and they all live around here and most of them work here at the winery or at the shop,” Judy says brightly. The kitchen is a gathering place for the Schmidt family, especially during holidays. 

After spending time in the cabinet shop, winery, tasting room and 30-acre vineyard planted in 14 varietals, the Schmidts enjoy preparing meals together in their comfortable, organized kitchen. If the kitchen is the heart of the home, then the Schmidts have the right space to cook up loving meals that dovetail beautifully with their great wines. 


Schmidt Family Vineyards

330 Kubli Rd., Grants Pass



Northwestern Design

605 SE “J” Street, Grants Pass


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