AT VESELBRAND, OWNER KEVIN VESEL DOES IT ALL: DESIGNING, BUILDING AND INSTALLING KITCHENS. AND HE ALWAYS SWEATS THE SMALL STUFF.
Balanced between elegance and functionality, this birds eye view from the kitchen desk keeps an eye on the Miele appliances that elegantly integrate into the wood and matte lacquer kitchen.
WORDS: Jane Craig IMAGES: Raul Garcia
Most kitchen designers measure their success in terms of square footage. Kevin Vesel measures his in millimeters. Yes, he’s that meticulous. The designer, who launched his Highlands-based company, veselbrand, in 2013 after years of work in the kitchen industry, is a rarity in Denver: Not only does he design his own high-end bespoke kitchens, but he oversees their building and installation in conjunction with each clients valuable input, too. “I design every kitchen like it’s my own,” Vesel says, “in conjunction with the client.”
The Canadian-born Vesel prides himself on his ability to think both macro and micro, a trait honed in his twenties in New York. After studying at the Maine Photographic Workshops, “I worked with probably the top 20 professional photographers in the world—people like [Francesco] Scavullo, [Yousuf] Karsh, [Irving] Penn and [Annie] Leibovitz—shooting fashion and beauty and large-production stuff. We’d be in Paris one week, Alaska the next week, the West Indies the week after that. It was hard work and long hours, but I learned a lot, particularly not to be afraid of anything. If I could get a production crew, an art director and 10 sled dogs into a helicopter and fly them into a remote, avalanche-prone region in British Columbia, I could do anything.”
After moving here 32 years ago (he fell in love with the mountains on a climbing trip and six months later made Colorado his permanent home), Vesel shot adventure photos for companies like Patagonia and North Face before switching gears. “Life’s too short to do one thing over and over,” he says. “I am basically a creative problem solver, which is why it’s so easy to switch from photography to building interiors, to doing kitchens, to designing one-of-a- kind pieces.”
Having spent years building sets (and even constructing his first home here by hand), “I just woke up one morning around the year 2000 and decided I was going to design and fabricate one-of-a-kind furniture, lighting and interior spaces. I love materials—and I love building things with my own hands. So I designed interiors for a lot of restaurants and salons and galleries and homes, as well as one of a kind furniture pieces, offices, lighting and just about any other thing he or his clients could imagine.”
This spacious kitchen was made for entertaining and experimenting. The hand-brushed, grey-oak veneer anchors the tall cabinetry and creates a balance for the lighter toned matte lacquer base cabinets. The back-painted glass uppers and back-panels add yet another layer of dimension. At the island a thick Dolomite stone top and minimal light fixture, selected by interior designer Lindsey Kruger, provide the perfect place to open a bottle of wine with friends and get down to some serious cooking. A full Miele appliance package includes a coffee system and steam oven.
He also became very familiar with the ins and outs of high-end European kitchen companies. So in 2013 through his love of contemporary design he became very familiar with the ins-and-outs of many of the luxury European kitchen brands—Arclinea, Varenna, Bulthaup, Boffi to mention a few. “Through the process of ordering and installing these types of kitchens and working with European companies he became very aware of what worked and what didn’t work, and I set out to design my own line,” he says.
Veselbrand specializes in high-end, contemporary kitchens, built to precise specifications by old school craftsmen here in Denver. “The European look is very much about being clean and symmetrical,” Vesel says. “I try not to get too tricky.” But that doesn’t mean they’re not super-personalized. “European manufacturers can produce hundreds of kitchens in a day. They’re gorgeous. I love them,” Vesel says. “But if you want to change something on site, you get in the queue and wait your 12-16 weeks for a replacement. In contrast, my company can do any paint color you can possibly think of, or any veneer species. And we have the ability to customize any part, any piece, on the fly, at any time. So if a wall changes two weeks before an install, we can cut a cabinet down, or make a new door, and two days later have the new item onsite.”
This view from the dining area reveals pull out pantries and refrigeration behind the tall, hand-brushed grey oak panels. Veselbrand “stick” pulls are machined, polished and painted in a custom coating. All upper cabinetry feature integrated led lighting panels and back-painted glass doors.
Vesel himself is involved until the last moment. “I love being part of every single aspect: I’m loading the truck. I’m unloading the truck. I’m installing cabinetry. I’m installing appliances, countertops, plumbing fixtures. I’m even teaching people how to use their appliances, cooking them their first meal.”
Vesel’s eye for detail can be seen in this kitchen, installed recently in a home in Cherry Creek. The space is generous—16 by 25 feet—and “the owners wanted a very clean, contemporary kitchen with high functionality and good ergonomics that was bright and cheery.”
Chef’s delight: plenty of prep areas on the island and perimeter allow multiple guest chefs to participate at once. Two drawer fronts keep the look clean and symmetrical, but a third internal drawer inside the top gives you ergonomics and ease of use for utensils, spices and cutlery. The Miele 48-inch range covers all bases with six burners, a griddle, convection oven with steam injection, speed oven and warming drawer. While the veselbrand custom “Jewel Box “ hood fits precisely between the clerestory windows.
The result is uber-streamlined: veselbrand’s Europa line of cabinetry comes in a hand-brushed/ cerused, warm, grey oak veneer on the tall cabinets and a warm matte lacquer on the base cabinets— utilizing integrated pulls and aluminum plinth in a tactical matte black finish. The owners wanted a large island with a big piece of stone; this Dolomite top provides texture, and, says homeowner Chip Duval, “We love the white Krion countertops that surround the island. It helps make a statement and fill in the space beautifully, but it doesn’t compete in any way.” The custom veselbrand “ Jewel Box” glass hood in matte white contrasts nicely with the glossy back-painted white upper cabinet doors, and large white glass back-splash.
Duval and his wife, Kristal, are thrilled with the result. “It’s very contemporary, but it doesn’t feel cold at all—it just feels dramatic,” says Duval. “Not only does Kevin design a beautiful kitchen, but he designs an extremely functional kitchen. The way everything flows and all the ergonomic storage space, its fantastic.”
That is just what Vesel wants to hear: “Ive done close to 500 contemporary kitchens by now,” he says, “and I probably have 450 best friends. People are always calling and texting to tell me how much they love their kitchens. That makes me really happy.”