Aletha Dove, co-owner of Blue Ribbon Kitchens and Heart of the Home Kitchens, stands next to a display Wednesday at her store. Dove said she started decorating cakes and making jelly when she was young, and she still enjoys working in the kitchen.

Photo by Joshua Gordon

Aletha Dove, co-owner of Blue Ribbon Kitchens and Heart of the Home Kitchens, stands next to a display Wednesday at her store. Dove said she started decorating cakes and making jelly when she was young, and she still enjoys working in the kitchen.

My Life, My Words: Aletha Dove — ‘Born in the kitchen’

Occupation

Co-owner of Blue Ribbon Kitchens and Heart of the Home Kitchens

Age

59

“Heart of the Home Kitchens is the showroom for our business, Blue Ribbon Kitchens, which is the designs and sales of the cabinetry, countertop and all the other things we sell. I’ve owned it with my sister, Cindy (Wright), for four years. We’ve had the showroom for three. We both have always used kitchens a lot. I had a kitchen that had to be remodeled, and I wasn’t liking the way that anybody was able to do it. I had designed additions to my home and I thought that if I wanted it to be done right, I need do it myself. Cindy had already worked for a cabinet shop in Steamboat years ago, so she helped me and we just got busy and designed my kitchen and loved it. So we decided that would be our business, and I would quit City Market. I worked there for almost 20 years.

“I’d built walls on the garage before, but nothing that needed really intricate carpentry skills. I just figured I was raised that if you want to do something you can figure out a way to do it. It’s been a good process. We’ve had a lot of opportunities to help people maximize their kitchens with small spaces. My thought is the kitchen needs to be the heart of the home. If it’s designed poorly or hard to work in, it really deters that. There’s nothing better than a family meal, sitting around the table talking, but if you don’t want to be in the kitchen, you’re never going to have that family meal.

“I’m not qualified as a gourmet cook, but I would consider myself one.

“It helps just having a fun place to work where you don’t have to struggle to find the tools that you need, and the dishwasher and the oven have to be easy to open. We like to go in and talk to people about how they like to use their kitchen and some people like to make pies and cakes and others like to make other things, so it just depends on the person’s taste for cooking.

“Our grandmother was the best cook in the Yampa Valley. It was nothing for her to bake 50 pies from scratch in a day. She was with a group people who would go horseback riding for the whole day and then come back to a fire that she had built and we would have fried chicken and ice cream then.

“I have a picture of the first cake I decorated when I was 4, and I made my first jar of choke-cherry jelly when I was 3, so I think I was born in the kitchen.

“We had family that first came to Colorado before it was a state. My sister and I were born in Steamboat, and I moved to Craig in 1979 when my husband took a job with Tri-State.

“I’ve got three boys. My youngest is Cody, he lives in California, he’s married and he’s got one little boy. Travis, the next oldest is in Grand Junction, and Wayne, the oldest is in Glenwood, and he has three children.

“In my garden right now, I’ve got a dozen tomato plants and pepper plants and onion plants and lots of herbs. I have a choke-cherry bush in the back yard and 20-some lilac bushes and four apple trees and a cherry tree.

“It’s really nice to have somebody that has an understanding of how a kitchen works to come in and say ‘It would be nice to have this here and this here,’ and we can do that by making this combination of cabinets. Just the placement of the things that you’re using makes a big difference and to have cabinets to accommodate that area, it’s an incredible advantage.”

— Interview by Andy Bockelman

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