‘Kitchen Walk’ cooks up support for Parenthesis families

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The kitchen of Oak Park Village President David Pope and wife Beth Houle retains the character of a historic home while incorporating modern conveniences and technology in the kitchen. | SUPPLIED PHOTO

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In west suburban Oak Park and River Forest, homeowners will open their newly-remodeled kitchens on behalf of Parenthesis Family Center, a community-based, non-profit organization that has been serving families with young children since 1980. This year’s event, scheduled for this Saturday, April 27, features 10 truly unique and innovative designs.

Among the stops on this year’s Walk is the River Forest home of Corinna and Rodrigo Lema. As Chicagoland’s first Certified Passive House, it uses 90 percent less energy to heat and cool, and 72 percent less energy overall than homes built to standard code. Everything in the home was chosen for its sustainability and healthy-living features. The flooring, made of sustainable cork, recently revealed an added benefit when a dropped pickle jar bounced, without cracking.

Fthe first time in several years, the walk features the work of 10 unique designers, several of which have never participated in the Parenthesis Kitchen Walk. Julia Harmon Bell is chairing this year’s event.

“We are thrilled to be able to share the work of ten different designers this year,” she said. “Each one of them has a unique approach to transforming spaces in this historic community to meet a modern family’s needs.”

Oak Park Village President David Pope and his wife Beth Houle have opened their F.A. Hill-designed home to the Walk this year. Their Oak Park home is an example of how the character of a historic home can be retained while incorporating modern conveniences, such as integrated technology systems and comfortable gathering space.

Designer Rosanne McGrath said, “We were able to change the functionality of the kitchen, but it feels seamless.”

Katie Feodoroff met designer JoBeth Halpin on the 2011 Kitchen Walk. She told Halpin that she wanted that year’s Best-in-Show-winning kitchen duplicated in her own River Forest home. But after collaborating, “the project became (a reflection of) Katie’s stories,” said Halpin.

The result is an open room that incorporates indoor and outdoor casual dining and gathering spaces, and quick access to Katie’s home office alcove. The neutral, tones of white, grey and soft yellow give the busy room a clean peaceful air and are a neutral background to the artful family photo series that line the walls.

A highlight of the past several years, Chef Denise Norton, of Flavour Cooking School in Forest Park, will again be showcasing her talents in a “working kitchen.” Guests can observe Norton at work and sample the results.

In addition to the custom floral arrangements donated by Westgate Flowers and Plants, and Garland Flowers, both of Oak Park, watch for the featured “tablescapes” at special stops along the way. For those wishing to dine afterward, many local restaurants have pledged to donate a portion of the day’s proceeds to Parenthesis.

Their biggest fundraiser of the year, the Kitchen Walk attracts more than 800 participants and brings in $50,000 for Parenthesis’ programming. Staffed by professionals in the fields of social work and child development, Parenthesis Family Center provides a wide range of parenting education, counseling, respite, and case management services focused on building strong families in Oak Park, River Forest, Forest Park and surrounding communities.

Tickets can be purchased in advance via the Kitchen Walk Website (www.parenthesis-info.org) and at select local retailers for $40; or for $45 the day of the walk.