Bill and Jessica Norton’s Belmont home boasts two kitchens. The first, at the rear informal entrance to their home, is a warm, welcoming space with built-in seating, a vintage porcelain sink picked up on their honeymoon, concrete and copper countertops, chicken-themed everything (upholstery, paintings, dishes, and assorted tchotchkes) and a custom made second sink by a local artist in the center work island. The second is the outdoor space where Bill’s lineup of charcoal grills is arrayed around a reclaimed brick patio. Norton’s outdoor kitchen boasts a Char-Grill, a Big Green Egg, a standard Weber kettle, and a Brinkman Professional, a grill with two adjustable-height charcoal pits that raise and lower.
“I know when he steps out here, I only need to worry about sides,” Jessica said. As a few racks of ribs finish up outside on the Green Egg under Bill’s supervision, Jessica is inside throwing together a salad of roasted beets, goat cheese, dried cranberries, and butter lettuce with a light vinaigrette. “We don’t eat this way every night,” she explained while tossing the salad, adding that weeknight dinners tend to fall to whomever has had the least busy day.
The Nortons’ home has as many, if not more, comfortable hang out spaces to entertain guests as it does spaces to feed them. Just behind the outdoor kitchen is a large patio space, with abundant seating around an urban bonfire. Landscaping helps tuck the property away from the adjacent busy Charlottesville street. A cozy porch, complete with ceiling fan and curtains that can be pulled closed for privacy, links the exterior and interior spaces. Inside, the kitchen is painted in rich jewel tones of red, with deep yellow accents. With 11-plus years of renovation under their belts, the kitchens, like the rest of the house and gardens, are equal parts salvaged from Bill’s construction projects (he owns Rockpile Construction), collected from travel, and thoughtfully selected to suit the couple’s style.
It’s the sort of home that one feels instantly comfortable in, in no small part due to the hosts, whose laid back demeanor with each other and their guests immediately puts everyone at ease. Sitting with a glass of wine on their back porch, the conversation drifts from preferred barbeque sauces to how to best control weeds in the vegetable garden to their timeline of acquiring real chickens in the yard to match the chicken assemblage in the kitchen. Nibbling on Bill’s expertly smoked ribs and Jessica’s colorful salad, the afternoon passes by all too quickly. With good food, good company, and comfortable surroundings, the Nortons’ kitchen setup proves that sometimes two is definitely better than one.