Feature: Kitchen & Bath Design News

(Follow this link to view the article's source: http://www.kitchenbathdesign.com/12389/breathing-new-life-into-historic-homes/)

Oklahoma City was a thriving urban metropolis at the turn of the 20th century. People flocked to the oil-rich region in the hopes of striking it rich… and many did. Nearly a hundred years later, Jo Meacham is appreciating the city’s historic growth and its residents’ success.

The principal and senior designer of Urban Kitchens in Oklahoma City, OK, has built her kitchen and bath design business largely by renovating homes that were built at that time. With a master’s degree in architecture and historic preservation – she actually started her career in planning and preservation with the City of Oklahoma City before opening her firm in 1999 – she is uniquely qualified to successfully transition those historic homes into the 21st century.

“This place was booming between 1900 and 1930,” she says. “There was a lot of money spent on some really nice houses so we have a wonderful collection of residential architecture from the first quarter of the last century.”

A business of inches

Preserving these historic homes is the lifeblood of Meacham’s business. But preservation is not without its challenges, she notes. Kitchens are typically small – as are home lots – and strict regulations concerning exteriors can make additions difficult, and expensive. “When a kitchen is large enough to include an island, I get excited,” she says. “Sometimes I can take down a wall, but I don’t always gain upper cabinet space because there are so many windows and doors… basement doors, hall doors, breakfast room doors, etc. Then there are the flues – which we can sometimes remove – and ‘camelback’ stairs – which take up a lot of space. I feel like I’m in the ‘inch’ business because these spaces are so small.”

It can also be difficult to make an older home modern, while at the same time maintaining its history. “I need to give a little more thought to color, door style, backsplash, etc. to make a new kitchen or bath look like it fits the architecture of the home,” she says.

That sentiment is an important part of her design philosophy: kitchens that are thoughtfully designed to embrace a home’s unique architecture, express the homeowners’ personality and enhance their lifestyle. “We look to the architecture of the home to inspire the design and details so the kitchen appears to have been built for the house,” she says. “This is particularly important with historic homes where the original kitchen is nothing like the kitchen of today.

“As far as personality, we listen to our customers and design a kitchen that reflects their personality… formal or casual, quirky or traditional. And for lifestyle, we want to make sure the kitchen suits the needs of the homeowner. We go through scenarios with them so they really think about how they use the kitchen.”

The current mass appeal and availability of shaker-style doors and subway tiles have actually been good for her. “They are historic and contemporary at the same time,” she says, adding that she can change the look as needed with hardware and accents. Flat edge countertops are also the norm… “everything is simplified. I have been doing shaker style cabinetry for years. It’s about all we see and feature in historic homes. I guess I’ve been ahead of my time!”

Being visible

Although many of Meacham’s designs are rooted in structures from long ago, she’s anything but dated when it comes to promoting her business. The designer maintains a visible presence within the community with a 1,000-square-foot studio showroom two miles north of downtown where she can showcase contemporary and traditional vignettes with cabinetry, countertops and backsplashes… and lots of samples. It’s also where she hosts seminars to help clients and potential clients better understand the design process. “I did three last year,” she says, adding that they generated $100,000 in extra business for her.

Meacham also routinely attends museum openings and other community events, “as part of the artsy group,” she says. She is often one of the designers featured in the Symphony Designer Show House, which is a fundraiser for the Oklahoma City Philharmonic and Oklahoma City Orchestra League music education programs. Fittingly, this year’s tour is of the Penthouse of Founders Towers, which was recently placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

She is also active in the digital world, jumping onto Facebook, Twitter and Houzz early on. In 2009, she rebranded her business from Vintage Kitchens to Urban Kitchens. “We felt the former name was a bit ‘granny-like’,” she says. “We felt people were putting us into a mold. At that time we were doing downtown projects and downtown was hot so we rebranded ourselves as Urban Kitchens.

“I also focus on doing good projects,” she continues. “I often get calls from other communities and we have done all sorts of projects in all price ranges.”

For the most part, empty nesters – who are willing to invest in their homes – are her core group of clients, followed by young with small children who aren’t in school yet. “They have good jobs with the oil companies and they want to live downtown near the action and great restaurants,” she says, noting the downtown’s return to greatness. “We are having a huge rebirth,” she says. “It’s a great downtown atmosphere that is very hot right now, and everyone wants to be a part of it.”

Urban Kitchens on Houzz

Why worry about your remodeling project?

Over the past 18 years Urban Kitchens has proven that designing and building kitchens and bathrooms can be worry free. Our experience with interior remodeling projects s extensive. We design and build kitchens, bathrooms and many times work with clients to provide whole-house renovations. Working with a firm that can design and build your project provides the best designed and timely built projects.

The Design. We provide free initial consultations that offer you the opportunity to meet us, discuss your project and determine a budget that you will approve.

The Contract. Urban Kitchens believes that a fixed price contract is essential to worry free projects. We promise no Change Orders.

The Craftsmen. We use a lead carpenter system that provide a hands-on experienced carpenter who oversees every aspect of the project. Our licensed electricians, licensed plumbers, tile installers and countertop fabricators have been with us for over 10 years. They are dedicated to creating a project that is 100% satisfactory.

The Materials. Urban Kitchens always provides quality materials that are selected and approved by the homeowner. We work with local showrooms and pass our discounts on to our clients. Buying locally guarantees quality products with warranties.

The Warranty. We have a two-year warranty and many of the cabinet lines we offer have Limited Lifetime Warranties for the cabinets.

Our kitchens are thoughtfully designed to embrace your home’s unique architecture, express your personality and enhance your lifestyle.”

Urban Kitchens is located in Oklahoma City 4410 North Western, in the heart of Western Avenue.

Jo Meacham, the principal of Urban Kitchens, holds a master's degree in architecture and historic preservation from the University of Oklahoma. She began her career in planning and preservation with the City of Oklahoma City. Since founding Urban Kitchens in 1999, Jo has designed and built hundreds of kitchens in the historic areas of Oklahoma City, including Heritage Hills, Mesta Park, Edgemere Park, and Crown Heights, as well as Edmond, Norman, and throughout the state.

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Services Provided
Bathroom Design, Bathroom Remodeling, Custom Bathroom Vanities, Custom Cabinets, Custom Countertops, Custom Kitchen Cabinets, Home Additions, Home Extensions, Kitchen Design, Kitchen Remodeling, Basement Design

 

Areas Served
Bethany, Del City, Edmond, Forest Park, Lake Aluma, Midwest City, Nichols Hills, Oklahoma City, Smith Village, Spencer, The Village, Valley Brook, Warr Acres, Wheatland, Woodlawn Park, Norman

 

Certifications and Awards
Best of Houzz 2013 - 2017
Past President, Oklahoma Chapter, National Kitchen and Bath Association
Master of Architecture University of Oklahoma 1984

Pro Spotlight: Take Your Kitchen Back to the Future

Who: Jo Meacham of Urban Kitchens
Where: Oklahoma City
In her own words: “Every style can be updated for a modern feel. These days, we’re focusing on simplification for kitchens.”While there’s a seemingly endless stream of gorgeous ideas for your kitchen, how do you ensure that your new space blends with the rest of your home? The answer is closer than you think, kitchen designer Jo Meacham says. “By using the historical and architectural context of the existing house, the kitchen can be a reflection of its surroundings,” says Meacham, the owner of Urban Kitchens, a kitchen and bath design firm in Oklahoma City.