When the Steele family gets together, it’s usually at Jevetta’s place.
“Our house is party central. Always has been,” said singer/actress Jevetta Steele, a solo artist and one-fifth of the Steeles, the Twin Cities siblings who perform everything from gospel to Gershwin.
Steele always loved hosting her big extended family at the 1950s rambler in Golden Valley where she and her husband, Amondo Dickerson, have lived for 10 years and raised their three children. But she didn’t love their kitchen, which was closed off from the other rooms on the main level, separating the hostess from her guests.
“I wanted to be part of the parties and events,” she said.
Opportunity knocked about two years ago, when a friend with HGTV connections told Steele that DIY Network was seeking a candidate for the 100th episode of one of its home makeover shows. “They wanted to do a celebrity kitchen for ‘I Hate My Kitchen’ ” Steele recalled. “They picked me.”
She knew she wouldn’t be getting a free kitchen, but the show’s work crew and discounts would help make a complete renovation more affordable.
The show’s crew initially proposed removing one wall to open the kitchen to the adjacent dining room. “Then they said, ‘Let’s take down two.’ I was a little scared,” Steele admitted. Fortunately, she found the home’s original 1952 blueprints, rolled up in a tube, to guide the design and demolition.
She made it clear to the show that she was not interested in being a passive bystander until the final reveal. “I’ve had this other life in Europe, and I wanted that reflected. This is my home. I want people to feel the personality of the home.”
That “other life in Europe” has included touring with Prince, Mavis Staples and George Clinton, and long runs performing in “Gospel at Colonus” and “Baghdad Cafe.”
“I had to be over there for three-month stints — Barcelona for three months, Paris for three months,” she said. “It was like home for me. It really became a big piece of my life.”
Inspired by houses she’d seen in Europe, Steele wanted a kitchen with warmth and color, to complement the warm hues and African-inspired artwork and accessories in the rest of her house.
Her new kitchen is a warm, earthy departure from the cool gray-and-white spaces that have been dominating TV shows and magazines in recent years. The floor is made of wood and recycled tiles of terra cotta, reclaimed from Paris streets. “It’s perfect. I’m the recycling queen,” she said.
The countertop on her peninsula is made of recycled glass. The textured aquamarine tile for the backsplash came from Spain, while the cabinets are a combination of bamboo and painted wood in a rich terra cotta to complement the floor.
Adding a glamorous touch are a pair of modern chandeliers made of sparkling glass orbs. “I wanted some bling,” she said with a laugh. “I’m in the entertainment industry.”
On the shelf
The “I Hate My Kitchen” crew descended on the house, and after just a few weeks, the family had a brand-new kitchen. “It went so smoothly,” she said. “We had a great time.”
Filming was completed, and a rough cut, featuring host James Young, was “in the can.” But the show soon ceased production, and the episode featuring Steele’s kitchen has sat on the shelf ever since. (Previously filmed episodes of “I Hate My Kitchen” continue to air, and the episode featuring Steele-Dickerson’s kitchen is scheduled to premiere on Aug. 29, according to Magnetic Productions.)
Even though Steele has yet to see her kitchen on TV, she’s happy she got a makeover out of the experience. “I said, ‘God, you sent them to me so I could get my kitchen done.’ ”
Now she and Amondo can work comfortably in the kitchen at the same time. “We both cook, and this kitchen allows for it — cooking together,” she said. “My husband is big on grilling, and I’ll make big salads.”
And their new kitchen has made entertaining more fun, just as she’d hoped. “At Christmas, we had 70 people here. It makes a difference — we’re all together,” she said.
“Now I don’t miss the parties. I’m in the kitchen AND I’m in the party.”