His and Hers

She’s the cook. He’s the mix master. Together Lillian Israel and her architect husband George can whip up a pretty tasty menu—especially now that they have plenty of room to move around in their brand new kitchen. Stemming from a desire for a larger kitchen that would serve the couple’s individual culinary styles, George set about finding space for expansion. The house, a 1960s Crestline structure, had already received one addition in the 1970s. That new wing had left behind an awkward spot in the landscape—but a perfect spot for George to set up his new kitchen. “I dreamed about converting this space for years, ” George says. “Our old kitchen was a bottleneck between the two wings of the house. With three kids, friends of kids, and a dog, it was like trying to prepare dinner in the middle of Highway 280.”

Reclaiming the space was easy enough, but George was then faced with the challenge of integrating exterior walls with interior spaces. “I really enjoy finding a design response to a unique set of circumstances, ” says George. “The design process was driven by the blending of existing and new materials and colors that complimented the kitchen aesthetic. The existing walls had windows, and transparency needed to remain in those location—hence the glass shelves and glass-door cabinets. The masonry and stucco walls became the appliance and cabinet locations.”   

Cabinet and fixture choices and architectural details give the room a contemporary, downtown loft feel. “In my mind, it was not so much about style but about a design challenge—how to create an interior space where an exterior deck with three exterior walls of different materials and details existed, ” explains George.

Sleek design details (with function always at the center) lend more creative innovation to the room. Countertops vary in accordance with use. Quartz was chosen for general prep/cleanup areas, while maple butcher block was installed for chopping space. Concrete surfaces are for serving and socializing.

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“Well-designed appliances, faucets, and adequately-sized sinks are important to serve the different functions of a kitchen, ” says George, who also favors specialty items like large drawers for base cabinets. “Lillian cooks with fresh vegetables/fruits, so having the in-counter compost bin has been great and makes for efficient cleanup, ” he adds.

Other areas are just as organized and include a cocktail bar, a morning coffee set up, and even an electronic docking station. With the multi-functional aspects of the space and the added square footage, the kitchen is truly custom-made for this couple.

Fresh From the Garden Salad

Try one of Lillian’s favorite dishes. The recipe can be made with purple hull peas, lady peas, fresh butterbeans, crowder  peas, or a mixture of all of these:

1 lb shelled peas, rinsed and sorted
1 small onion, cut into chunks
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
2-3 large sprigs fresh thyme
2-3 large sprigs fresh marjoram or thyme, or some of each
Extra-virgin olive oil

Place the peas in a large pot and cover with water. Tie the onion, garlic, and herbs into a piece of cheesecloth to make a bouquet garni. Toss into the pot with the peas, and bring to a boil. (Watch carefully as it tends to boil over.) Lower heat and simmer until peas are done, 15-25 minutes, depending on the size of the peas. Add a generous tablespoon of salt during the cooking. When done, remove the bouquet garni and drain the peas. Drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil. Make a dressing by combining the following in a large jar or bowl:

1 clove garlic, mashed in a pestle with 1 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 large shallot, finely chopped
Grated peel of ½ lemon (optional)
1/4-1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Pour all ingredients except the olive oil into the jar and shake well, or pour all ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Drizzle in ¼-1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil until emulsified.  Pour over the peas, and then add :

½ cup chopped parsley, chives, and basil in whatever proportions you prefer
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

Stir all together well, and add salt and pepper to taste

Tips from Lillian: “I use this delicious mixture in a variety of ways. It makes a great side dish for grilled meats, but I like to serve it on a bed of lightly dressed mixed baby greens. (I like to use lots of arugula in the mix.) You can reserve a couple of tablespoons of the dressing for this purpose or simply a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper. I usually top the greens with grilled fish or chicken and then add the pea mixture.”

George's Summer Gimlet

Adjust proportions according to individual tastes. George says such variations of the drink make it a favorite throughout the summer.

3/4 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup (1:1 sugar and water)
2 ounces Plymouth Gin
Enhancements (optional):

  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters or Celery bitters, and/or…
  • 3 slices seedless cucumber,  muddled with a pinch of kosher salt, or…
  • 3-4 basil leaves,  lightly muddled

Strain into chilled glass. Enjoy with friends.


Architect George Israel, Israel & Assoc • 205-803-0075
General/Framing/Painting John Parker, Village Remodeling • 205-991-0662
Cabinets Alno From European Kitchen Of Alabama • 205-978-5629
Appliances Allsouth Appliances • 205-942-0408
Concrete Countertops Brian Maloy, Fusoform • fusoform.com
Quartz Countertops Robert F. Henry Tile • 205-592-8615
Plumbing Fixtures Kenny & Co. • 205-323-5616
Light Fixtures Illuminations Lighting • 205-322-2176
Electrical Tortorici Electrical Services • 205-424-2698
Lighting Controls/Sonos Jayson Berger One Button Magic • 205-588-6898
Hvac/Plumbing Fixtures Standard Heating & Air Conditioning • 205-322-2679
Floor Tile Surface Solutions • 256-506-6861

Text by Cathy Still McGowin • Photography by Major Adam Colbert

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