Ann Bender and John Greenstreet danced into each other's lives at a South Jersey ballroom several years ago, and the rest is happy history.
Yet, like many couples, when they went from dancing partners to married partners in 2015, they had to contend with the complications of establishing a home together. It was quickly clear that one or the other would have to move to avoid long commutes between Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
John's house in South Jersey won out, thanks, in part, to a job transfer to Center City Philadelphia for Ann. She would move from Philadelphia's western suburbs and start a new life with John in Mount Laurel, Burlington County.
Two years after their marriage, the two decided to remodel John's two-story, three-bedroom house, purchased in 1985. Both formerly married, John and Ann were determined to create a home that was clearly their own.
Fortunately, both wanted a fabulous kitchen. John, who works in data visualization software, is a serious baker, organized and meticulous about culinary creativity. Friends and family enjoy his delicacies such as French-style macaroon treats.
"I'm definitely not as well organized as John is," admits Ann, who works in wealth management. "But I do love to enjoy the benefits of John's passion for organization."
They decided to redo the home with a more open feel than the original design and with a kitchen that would be the clear centerpiece of the house.
As soon as you enter this home on a pleasant Mount Laurel street, the kitchen is clearly visible. And what a kitchen it is.
The couple say one of their best decisions was to work with Poggenpohl, the well-known company based in Germany, with satellites around the globe, including in Philadelphia.
"We both felt that this was the company that would understand what we wanted and help us to get it," says John, who devoted enormous energy to the mission.
"I was less involved," Ann says, "because I knew that John was so amazingly knowledgeable. I felt lucky that I was just in the background."
The project was undeniably a major renovation. After the kitchen was gutted, three walls came down, one from the original kitchen, one in the foyer area, and one in the combined dining room/den. The goal was to totally open the kitchen and give it a wide view of the home's expansive backyard.
The result seems like something from a technological fantasy.
The couple chose shiny white, stain- and scratch-resistant Dekton countertops to complement their gray cabinetry and luxury vinyl flooring. Sleek, furniture-quality drawers contain everything from super-organized silverware storage to implements and tools for cooking, baking, and efficiency.
The appliances, with their instant responses, seem magical, and while the couple credit their Poggenpohl designer, it's clear that John's input, with some help from Ann, yielded this dream kitchen.
Baker John picked stacked Miele ovens, offering conventional, convection, and microwave options. The couple chose a high-efficiency 24-inch Bosch refrigerator/freezer that "would not protrude into the room," John says. It has easy-to-maneuver stacking storage to aid with organization. The dishwasher can send a smartphone alert when the dishes are clean.
Coffee is a special passion for the couple, who look to their Miele in-wall machine for the perfect brew. And a Miele induction cooktop can boil water in 30 seconds.
While the kitchen is the key attraction in this home, other highlights add their own dazzle.
A super-contemporary light fixture in the now-open dining room awaits a contemporary table on order. Meanwhile, the open floor invites some ballroom dance steps.
Ann's pride and joy is the backyard garden, and no wonder. She cultivates ornamental plantings, as well as green, purple, and lemon basil. Pesto is a family favorite.
The project, from demolition to finale, took six weeks. Careful planning, along with a two-week vacation to Switzerland during construction, made it bearable, they say.
Would they do it all again? A resounding "Yes!"