A Coastal Classic

Story by Julia Moore

Photography by Inua Blevins


Rita and Tom Dienst were in the market for a hard find – a one-story waterfront home in Juneau. A year into their search, a ranch-style home popped up for sale in their desired location. Rita agreed to the purchase on one condition: the kitchen would have to be extensively remodeled.

General contractor:
Groogan Carpentry
Interior designer:
Bauer/Clifton Interiors
Hudson Valley Lighting
Vermont Casting
Windows, doors:
Kitchen countertops:
Pental Quartz
Cabinets, island:
Showplace Wood
Kitchen hardware:
Top Knobs
CA Lighting
Kitchen tile:
Grazia Tile
Bathroom countertops:
Crema Marfil Marble
Hardware, toilet, plumbing:

One room remodel turned into two, and then three. “The project just grew and grew,” says Rita. The new plans included extensive remodeling to the kitchen, living room, powder room, and removing an awkward office area to put in a special butler’s pantry.

A modern pantry for a traditional home

“Originally, I didn’t even conceive (the full notion) of a butler’s pantry,” Rita admits with a laugh. Instead of the traditional, small sliding-door pantry Rita pictured, Jeremy Bauer and Jason Clifton of Bauer Clifton Interiors created an entire room for extra storage. Its main purpose, however, was to display Rita’s extensive china collection with its glass-fronted cabinets.

“Rita often hosts large gatherings, so space planning was essential,” says Jeremy. Instead of setting appetizers and meals in her small kitchen or on her dining room table, Rita can now use the expansive island for wine and appetizers and create a buffet in her butler’s pantry, which flows nicely into the newly expanded kitchen and dining room, says Jeremy.

Style and durability for decades

Each of the rooms is built to look like new through the years, too. The quartz countertops – with metallic flecks for a little sparkle and dazzle – are easy to clean and maintain, requiring hardly any maintenance. Jason also picked out a durable flooring material to coordinate with the hardwood already in place, Jason says “the luxury vinyl tile in a diagonal checkerboard pattern replicates the appearance of marbled checkerboard flooring but is softer underfoot, and yet more durable and easier to care for.”

The appliances in the room are Thermador, professional-grade appliances that have a unique feature for Rita, who hates the look of stainless steel: All of these appliances can be covered with a wood front to seamlessly blend into her kitchen. “You don’t see a refrigerator; you don’t see a dishwasher. It’s lovely,” she says. “It’s not nice having those big silver things sitting there.” One of the few instructions Rita gave Jason and Jeremy was that she wanted a white kitchen, because it’s “timeless, classic and clean.” Rita trusted Jason and Jeremy to pick out just about everything else.

Trust in the team

“(Jason) picked out every lamp, every color, all the quartz,” says Rita. “They picked every single (detail).” For Rita, letting go of control was hard at first, but she was wowed by their ideas from the beginning. Rita describes their first meetings: “They came back with proposals, and my eyes were wide open and I’m going ‘oh, I cannot live without that!’ ”

With her trust, Jeremy and Jason weren’t afraid to shoot for the stars. To make room for the pantry and create an openness of the rooms, they removed a defunct all-seasons greenhouse attached to the kitchen, which created sauna-like temperatures in the kitchen during summer and ice museum-like temperatures during winter. “A support beam was recessed within the ceiling to achieve a seamless transition between old and new (space in the kitchen),” says Jeremy.

To make more room for the kitchen and butler pantry, they removed an awkwardly designed home office and downsized the bathroom to a stylish powder room. The small room was accessorized with the glitz that Rita was dying for. “It’s very shiny, girly and elegant and fun,” she says. Removing the home office also increased the functionality of the home, says Jeremy.

In the living room, an old pellet stove with two small windows around it was torn out. Now, there are two five-foot windows in its place, creating a “fishbowl living room,” says Rita. Opposite the new windows is a new propane fireplace – a feature Rita knew she couldn’t live without after they suggested it. “I like to get up in the morning, hit the button, and here comes the fire,” she laughs and adds, “When you get older, you don’t want to haul wood anymore.”

In the end, the house is more than Rita could have imagined. “I would never have dreamt what they did,” she says. For Rita, calling in the experts was an expense, but it’s a decision she’ll never regret.

“We wanted a house that would be our forever house,” says Rita. “We’re very lucky.”