As an introvert, I do my best thinking when alone and particularly, when exercising. On a recent run, I began to think about where Beth’s and my passion for home and hospitality first started? And of course, the story begins with family.
Beth grew up in a home known for generosity and hospitality. With an unspoken open-door policy, they were always hosting and entertaining a variety of guests in and out of their home. Her parents’ kitchen table is the place where a lot of conversations are had, and many stories have been swapped. And believe me, the more you hang around the Gabrielsen side of the family the more stories you will hear. Beth’s family are also known for their generosity. There are many examples of where just a slight mention of a specific need within earshot of Dr. Ted might result in a package arriving at your door in the next few days containing said need. Their house was a place with no judgement, but instead laughter, encouragement, and joy. The more I learned about Beth and the family she grew up in the more I desired that my own family also be known for having an “open door”. Most people misunderstand introverts as wanting to always be alone and quiet, but for me that is not always the case. Though I am often a man of few words, I take great joy in serving and creating a place for community to happen.
I grew up in a house that was ever-changing. My mother has always loved decorating and is very good at it. You can always tell what holiday is coming up by the tasteful decorations throughout the house. She always bent toward the finer things and enjoyed putting them together in our home. My father is a trained draftsman. When I was growing up he would often wake up at 3:00 AM to draw for several hours before heading off to his day job, which was overseeing in-house construction projects for a large hospital in our town. Dad is old-school and to this day draws by hand, no computers or CAD systems for him. Kerith House, our current home, was drawn by dad multiple times, each time by hand, until the last detail was figured out. My father was also a licensed contractor. He only built homes for a couple of family members though as most of his home construction experience came from renovating our family home countless times over the 45 plus years.
My brother too had a passion for home architecture and design. Having a degree in graphic design he was always drawn to the visual arts. A gifted artist and designer, he eventually followed my father’s footsteps and he too began to draw house plans for people, progressing beyond that to design and build custom high-end homes. He was particularly attracted to Victorian-style homes. My brother was a dreamer with an incredible eye for design. Sadly though, he passed away at the age of 39 after suffering a major heart attack one night in his sleep. But he left behind a number of beautiful homes that will stand for many years as a testament to his love for architecture and design.
The Gabrielsen and Williams clan came together when Beth and I met in Ukraine many years ago and became best friends. Often, we would get together, cook dinner, and hang out, inviting other expat friends in Kiev to join us. Many of our fondest memories in Ukraine were made hosting game nights or frequent dinners. Beth used to say that 70% of our relationship was centered around food. It was true. Our initial relationship was often built on arguing who could make the best homemade tomato soup or the virtues of butter over Crisco. We spent hours together making and pressing out dozens of tortillas or shopping for illusive ingredients like peanut butter. We also spent hours watching her video tape series of This Old House. We must have seen the Nantucket series half a dozen times over the years we were in Ukraine. Beth was always doing something “artsie”, from giant tea cups she painted on her kitchen walls to making a beautiful wreath to hang on my wall with the words of one of my favorite songs, “It is Well”, intertwined throughout. Beth’s creativity and skills are diverse and ever present in anything she touches.
When Beth and I were married, one of our commitments as a couple was to be a family that focused on sharing our hospitality. Over the years we have hosted numerous events and gatherings in our home. We have had hundreds of overnight guests that included friends, family, and strangers. Most recently, we began to share the cottage behind our home as a short-term vacation rental which has been an absolute joy. In addition, I’ve spent the last 20 plus years consulting in the restaurant and hospitality industry with one of America’s largest and most well-respected restaurant brands in both food and customer service. As a result of all my travels, I have also spent over 3 years of my life thus far staying in various hotels around the world, as well as received training from the likes of Marriott and the Ritz Carlton. Through all this, Beth and I have come to better understand the intricacies of caring for guests and making them feel pampered. But we certainly would not presume we have it all figured out, we are always learning.
So, on that recent run, I began to see how all the pieces of Beth’s and my life have come together and brought us to the place where we are today; a place where we experience joy by designing and creating a place for our family to grow, rest, and play. It’s a place where we experience joy by serving our guests with surprise and delight. So, this Kerith House and fine hosting journal thing? It is simply us feeling that God is prompting us to press in a little deeper; to explore and be good stewards of not only what gifts, talents, resources, and ministry he has called us to, but to encourage and help others experience joy through hosting and gracious hospitality as well.
So welcome! We look forward to sharing what we learn with you as we seek to serve our guests and help you give your guests remarkable and memorable experiences.