Great Spaces: Kitchen possible

Mary Kathryn Reese, below, and her partner Jennifer Sherrill founded Snappy Kitchens which helps clients pick materials and looks for their kitchen including backsplash and countertops. (Photos courtesy Ruda Photography)

One local couple can take the nightmare out of revitalizing your kitchen into a dream

By Rich Lopez

When you cook that extra special dinner for your loved one or family, you want to feel inspired as you go through the recipe. But you need much more than the pretty picture in that magazine and those drab cabinets aren’t helping. The kitchen is the heart of the home but if it’s causing heartache, well, something must be done — and it may not be as daunting as you think.

“Before people think about remodeling their entire kitchen, they should consider a facelift,” Mary Kathryn Reese says. “What we’re doing is basically that, an aesthetic update, but we also try to enable the consumer to define for themselves what they like to do with their kitchen.”

Reese and Jennifer Sherrill, her partner in both business and life are founders of the seven year-old Dallas-based company Kitchen Design Concepts which focuses on full-scale higher-end redos. That comes with more involvement and process. But the ladies discovered a niche market where people were interested in updating their kitchen without breaking ground or the bank. Some touch-ups here and there or maybe a new sink and they would have been happy. This became an aha moment for the team and Snappy Kitchens was born.

“What we’ve learned is that people are interested in doing some of it themselves,” she says.

They just need that push to get them going and that’s where Snappy Kitchens comes in. The couple created an online portal where people can design their new look all on the web with a wizard model and get an estimate of the cost. Once the client is happy with the results of both the selections and the prices, an appointment is set with the company to verify measurements and costs and begin the journey to a brand new kitchen.

“It’s basically a do-it-yourself redesign,” she says. “People can do it at their own time and pace and there’s no cost for the estimate. Plus, this gives clients all the power in their own hands and they can edit the cost. Sometimes people are embarrassed to say ‘I can’t afford this.’ This model lets them narrow down the cost.”

The company has two designers on staff who then help the customer streamline their facelift.

“People want some confirmation that what they selected looks good,” Reese says.

Reese and Sherrill debuted Snappy Kitchens in March, but have been at work on it since lasy July. The service opened to a warm reception at the Home and Garden Show in Dallas and even in its infancy, business is buzzing.

“The response has been fabulous and we’re doing about a proposal a week,” she says.

She says they are working out some kinks and doing all the web tools to maximize visitors to the site. However, the site runs smooth enough and easy to follow. By clicking the “Estimate My Kitchen,” button, the Snappy Kitchen Wizard appears and you’re on your way to that kitchen facelift. First the kitchen shape is determined followed by cabinetry, countertop measurements and options and then sink, faucet and backsplash. Since cabinets make up a big design element of most kitchens, you’d think that would be the most popular of the selections. Wrong.

“The most common request people want for their kitchen is a new countertop and then new appliances” she confirms. “Backsplash and then painting cabinetry and replacing hardware.”

You are in good hands with this team. With their primary company, the couple has realized their dream. But Sherrill is also one of 31 women in the industry to have certified remodelr designation from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry or NARI and that’s huge. Reese is also a hobby chef and Cook’s Illustrated recipe tester, so her knowledge of the kitchen adds a perspective to the redesigning beyond just looks.

And although Snappy Kitchens is their new baby, as any proud parent, they got big plans for it.

“Of course, KDC is our first business there is a different approach to services, different level of intimacy,” Reese says, “but even though Snappy Kitchens costs less for the customer, the quality is the same. We’re going full throttle with this and because it’s web-based, we even hope to franchise it.”

Likely everyone else does to, so make it snappy.

For more information or to begin your kitchen’s facelift, visit SnappyKitchens.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 15, 2011.

—  John Wright

New gay reality show to be filmed in Oak Lawn

Cedar Springs RoadDallas is THE hot spot for fall television this year. Look for “Chase” on NBC and “The Good Guys” and “Lonestar” on Fox.

How much more of Dallas will America get to see? That depends on whether the pilot of a new reality show that will be filmed on the Strip gets picked up.

“Promoting Dallas: A Reality Show” is produced by Dallas promoter Roy Murray and will film in Oak Lawn on Aug. 27 and 28.

The producers wrote:

When it comes to promoting night life in the fourth largest metropolitan area in America, one can expect copious amounts of entertaining events, starlight-filled drama and beverage enhanced truths.

Roy Murray, event promoter of  Dallas, feels that it is time America had the chance to see the never-ending list of things to do to ensure an electrifying night out on the town, all while building a brand. Murray and his street-team of dedicated guys and girls have been promoters in the Dallas/Fort Worth area for the past 10 years. Roy was on of the founding members of 7connection before starting Black Knight Production. He was also the chairman of Dallas Southern Pride.

All these aspects give the show an edgy inquiry, but the quality attribute of the show is its niche market, all the taping and action  will all take place within the Dallas LGBT Community, ensuring a diverse look into what it takes to promote and entertain the most financially friendly demographic in Dallas.

“Dallas is known for its social scene but our community is literally the scene to be seen!” stated Murray.

Here’s the filming schedule for “Promoting Dallas.”

Friday Aug. 27:

The Drama Room, 3851 Cedar Springs Rd., 6 p.m.-10 p.m. for Happy Hour

The Brick, 2525 Wycliff Ave., 10 p.m.-3 a.m.

Saturday, Aug. 28:

Hungdinger’s for the Stoplight Party Ladies Edition, 3851 Cedar Springs Rd., 10:30 p.m.-2 a.m.

Club Rush, 3903 Lemmon Ave., 10 p.m.-2 a.m.

—  David Taffet

Author, author!

Mark Lee Kirchmeier and Alvin Granowsky add their gay voices to the Dallas literary community

RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

MUTUAL ADMIRATION SOCIETY | Granowsky, left, and Kirchmeier peek at each other’s tragic tales. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

It seems unlikely that Mark Lee Kirchmeier and Alvin Granowsky had never met before this week, since both are in the niche market of gay writers in Dallas. But perhaps they represent a budding scene of out local authors. Dallas gays are claiming a presence.

When the authors finally met, a literary camaraderie took over. Kirchmeier had heard good things about Granowsky’s book, which delighted Granowsky. Several mutual acquaintances and writing comparisons later, the two seemed like old pals.

Kirchmeier published his first book, The Promise of Hope, four years ago; the story of his hero, Johnny, continues 10 years later in his second novel, The Open Pill Box.

“I intended it to be a sequel but it took on a life of its own,” Kirchmeier says. “It’s so much larger than the first. He’s psychotic as a young man in Promise, but now he keeps himself under control with meds but no safety net.”

He calls his first book more romantic, but in Pill Box, Kirchmeier fully knows the story is not pretty or romantic. Johnny is a gay bipolar man seeking the help of anyone who can get him meds. Without insurance, he’s close to being thrown away by society until he finds a reprieve from his ex and the Catholic Church. Pill Box is also Kirchmeier’s exploration and criticism of America’s healthcare system.

Granowsky explores social topics as well, though from a different perspective. In his 2009 book Teacher Accused, he addresses what happens “when homophobia explodes in a Texas town.” But he has added romance into the picture giving the reader a beacon of hope amid a tragic story.

“I see this story as a journey to pride,” he says. “I think people sometimes feel kind of defective because they are gay. I really want this to have a positive depiction so younger people can see there is a great life to be had — even if it’s in a homophobic society.”

That both books have dour, dire plots begs a curious question: Is gay tragedy an obvious outlet for an out writer? With the usual backgrounds of LGBT people growing up being bullied or shunned, the need to rehash such unpleasant environments for the authors was a catharsis, whether it was experienced first hand or observed.

“I’m bipolar,” Kirchmeier candidly admits. “This is an advocate book for the mentally ill who don’t have insurance and who are gay. I’ve felt thrown away and not wanted. This isn’t my story, but I am in there. Johnny and I are alike in many ways because of the things I’ve seen and life experiences.”

Granowsky, by contrast, writes from observation. As a former educator, he noticed the students who might be gay and the way they were treated by everyone else. He was pained by this memory that years later, and needed to get it out of his system.

“There is a catharsis talking about this,” he says. “It’s like cleansing one’s own sense of self. I needed to let it come out. My value system suffered. The funny thing is, I had no intention of getting published. I just wanted to write it down. It was a labor of love.”

That venting of ill emotions has its rewards. Each author sees his novel making an impact in the community, whether from an appreciative fan or an actually life changing moment. Both express compassion in their books that speaks to readers.

“I looked around and wanted to make a change, a statement,” Kirchmeier says. “I’m angry about the lack of universal healthcare. The way hospitals treat people without insurance. I wanted to speak out in anger and take a look at the social injustice that’s even based here in Dallas.”

He took a year and a half to write The Open Pill Box, and its darkness took a lot out of him physically and emotionally. It affected his hygiene, his health and even his teeth: He became so rapt he eventually had to have a root canal for ignoring his teeth.

That should change with book three.

“I’m currently writing My Best Pledge, which is a lighthearted romp through fraternity hood. And then after that, I’m writing The Paleta Man — a sequel to The Open Pill Box.”

Meanwhile, Granowsky is still reveling in having his book published. With people coming out earlier, he sees a shift in a new generation of pride. Something he didn’t have.

“Younger people are coming out earlier,” he says. “Sometimes they aren’t as prepared but now there are more solid role models for that. Plus, I think this book could inspire people to be proud of who they are and that life can be happy. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.”

Once the photo was done the authors exchanged books, spreading their message a little further. And each seems to know that they could be part of a homegrown trend of giving a voice to the gay community.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 02, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas