By Robin Jovanovich

Anyone who has worked with Jen Howard — and that’s most of Rye — knows that her cabinetry design is fine, and she delivers on time. For the last 20 years, she has averaged an astounding 50 kitchen projects a year— in between bathroom, dressing room, mudroom, library, and family room renovations.

To every project she brings energy, enthusiasm, and efficiency, which may be one of the reasons she got a call from Jon de la Cruz. The nationally renowned designer needed assistance creating a dream kitchen for House Beautiful’s 10th annual Kitchen of the Year, which would be unveiled at the 40th San Francisco Decorator Showcase.

Howard’s job was to design, provide the specs, build, and deliver the custom cabinetry — in eight weeks!


The baking area of the House Beautiful Kitchen of the Year

“It was a huge honor to be selected,” said Howard at her JWH Design & Cabinetry office in Rye, fresh back from opening weekend. “They could have chosen a major national company… but our turnaround time is hard to beat.”

Owning her own mill shop, in Pennsylvania, enables Howard to price her cabinets competitively and ensure that they are what the client ordered.

The House Beautiful kitchen project afforded Howard the opportunity to design outside the traditional suburban kitchen box.

This was her fourth project with de la Cruz. “While I was the ‘quarterback’ for the cabinets, I was also a team player who had to make sure Jon’s vision worked.”

That vision included: a baking area; a breakfast area; a mix of wood and paint; hardware in brass and oil-rubbed bronze; amazing light fixtures; a sculptural pot rack; lots of black; Caesarstone’s new ‘Raw Concrete’; varying counter edges; Farrow & Ball’s new cabinet paint; and enormous tiles on the floor.


An iron pot rack seems to float over the main work island.

The kitchen was designed for a family with eight children, which is another reason Jen Howard was the right woman for the job; she’s the mother of five.

She left a little bit of her heart and a lot of drawings in San Francisco. “This was my third completed project out there, and a fourth is under construction.”

Come September, the award-winning kitchen will be featured in House Beautiful. While Jen Howard won’t be the cover girl, she’s happy to have been asked to the design dance.



Designers Jon de la Cruz and Jen Howard