What’s Old is New: A Look Inside One Local Homeowner’s Restored 20th Century Kitchen

History (almost) repeats itself in this lovingly restored 20th-century kitchen.
Photograph by Joe Tiano

After living in condominiums in Detroit for several years, Amy and Donald Rencher decided to act on something they had known for a while: They needed more space to raise a family. They found a 4,000-square- foot home built in 1910 in the city’s New Center neighborhood that met that need; the kitchen, however, was another story.

“It was tight and had an awkward layout with a sink on one wall, a stove on another, and very little storage,” Amy Rencher recalls. “There was a lot of wasted space.”

With busy lives — Amy is senior vice president of small business services for the Michigan Economic Development Corp., and Donald is group executive of housing, planning, and development for the city of Detroit — the couple needed a welcoming, practical space at the day’s end.

To help create their oasis, the Renchers called on Anahi Hollis of Detroit-based Anahi Hollis Design. The team decided to remove a butler’s pantry and rear stairwell to increase space.

“A lot of Detroit’s historic homes have small kitchens,” Hollis says. “When working on historic properties, there are opportunities to enhance what already exists. I feel a sense of responsibility to be mindful of how renovations are handled.”

The renovations were executed so seamlessly, in fact, that Amy says one would think the current kitchen was originally built this way.

“We love that we can now walk in, plop down, unwind from the day, and enjoy each other’s company,” Amy says.

Here, Amy and Hollis share a few of the kitchen’s special elements.

Photograph by Joe Tiano

Under foot

The flooring needed to be replaced, so a 1.5-inch plank style in red oak was brought in to match existing flooring throughout the house.

Adore the door

A rear door needed replacing, so the team found a salvaged door at Woodward Throwbacks.

“It’s from an old school on Detroit’s east side,” Amy says.

For the countertops, the team chose slabs of Michelangelo quartzite from PMP Marble& Granite in Troy.

It has “rich veins of gold, rust, and black,” Hollis says.

Fixated on fixtures

Hollis selected large and small pendants by Thomas O’Brien from Visual Comfort in bronze and hand-rubbed antique brass, “which brings a rich glow and consistency with period detail,” Hollis says.

Island time

“We mapped out several iterations for the island, as we needed to be able to comfortably walk around it,” Amy says.

The island can seat two, and the couple also made sure to have enough room at the end for their 1-year-old son P.J.’s high chair.

Black is back

Black stainless finishes are present throughout the space, including on the appliances and faucets.

Tile file

A warm gray subway-style tile backsplash from Virginia Tile has “a crackle to it, and it looks like it’s been there always,” Amy says.

This story is from the October 2022 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more in our digital edition. And click here to see more metro Detroit interiors.