Remembering the Legacy of Our Dealers: Ellen Cheever and Ronald McDonald House of Delaware

Creating a multi-functional kitchen for the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware was no easy feat.

It needed to be spacious, accommodate a variety of cooking styles and backgrounds, and feel like home to the families who stay at the house during very difficult and emotionally trying times. Ellen Cheever of Giorgi Kitchens & Designs was the perfect candidate to accomplish the task. Her attention to detail and years of experience resulted in a kitchen that not only serves the people that use it everyday, but contributes to the overall mission of the Ronald McDonald House: to offer a nurturing environment for families to gather and support one another.

Wide angle photo of a multi-functional kitchen

Cheever approached this project with very distinct goals. She needed to stay within a limited budget, avoid altering the footprint or plumbing and electrical work, and utilize the same style of cabinets in the original room. The kitchen needed to be easy to clean and maintain. It also called for a unique balance of industrial capacity with an intimate, home-like feeling. Cheever’s personability and compassion shine through in the finished work, an element that makes the kitchen one of a kind. Ultimately, three separate kitchen areas were brought to life within one 271-sq.-ft. space, while two other separate spaces share a 180-sq.-ft. area. She reimagined the common space that is used for sharing daily meals so that it flowed seamlessly with the kitchens. This morphed the design into a much more cohesive and productive kitchen concept which now gives families a straightforward experience. 

 

Custom Lockers in a multi-functional kitchenA Multifunctional Kitchen

Cheever installed hybrid-design serving areas for hot food and warming stations that can double as surfaces for preparing snacks and desserts by pulling across a retractable work surface. Lockers for dry goods, and vending machines are located around the corner and recycling, trash, and laundry receptacles are conveniently hidden below the counter on roll-outs. All concealed storage is adequately labeled and follows intuitive design in order to be easy to use for international and non-English speaking families. KitchenAid range hoods turn on automatically when needed, and matching appliances throughout provide continuity with the new cabinetry, floors, and countertops.      

The existing cabinets were replaced with a selection of Plain & Fancy styles while Corian Design quartz countertops, glass and ceramic tile backsplashes and Kohler sinks and faucets complement the overall color palette. The sinks are deep enough for individuals  who prefer to hand wash their dishes and all are equipped with the necessary supplies such as a scrub brush, drying mat, and paper and cloth towels. Dishwashers are also installed for convenience and to accommodate the large quantities of dishes that are made in a communal kitchen.   

The neutral greys and browns are accented with a pop of turquoise blue from the wall color and open shelving provides dimension and a homey feeling. Cheever chose to adorn the walls with cheerful, food-themed paintings by American artist, Wayne Thiebaud to further enliven the atmosphere. Small touches like pop-up outlets are included for small appliances that are stowed when not in use, such as crockpots and steamers. A knife block and color-coded cutting board set are provided in each kitchen. 

 

Accessibility is Key Accessible kitchen cabinets

An accessible section of the kitchen features a special lowered cooktop and sink that can accommodate a seated or petite cook. Low cabinets hold pots and pans and other child-friendly supplies, while upper shelves are reserved for items that need adult supervision.      

Cheever’s work on the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware won first place in KDBN’s 2021 Best Specialty Kitchens Award; a well deserved accolade. Her expertise was truly well-matched for this project and her heart for others was expressed throughout every feature of the space. Here at Plain & Fancy, we are so pleased to support our dealers and proud of the work they do in their communities. Ellen Cheevers has left a legacy that has touched the lives of many people and her caring demeanor was eloquently expressed in the career she had.  

The kitchen is the hub of any home, and the same thing can be said for the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware. It is not only where meals are shared, but where connection and understanding happen. The families who use the kitchen during their stay, whether it is for a short time or for many months, share stories and comfort with one another there. They swap recipes, talk about their cultures and open up to the possibilities of healing and hope. We believe in the value of creating spaces for connection to happen and are thankful for the work that Ellen Cheever put into this project as well as the legacy she leaves behind as a Plain & Fancy dealer. 

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