Although our design process for a kitchen remodel runs in a linear fashion, sometimes we break the mold to develop details that are more intuitive or surprising. This is especially apparent in Beth & Kris’ kitchen, one that we designed over four months and continued to refine during construction. The effect is a space that fits seamlessly into a 1930 house with as much character as theirs.
The kitchen of this craftsman-era bungalow was mostly original, with tiled countertops, exhausted cabinets and hardware, a distinctive pocket window that did not operate, detailed casework, paneled walls, and vinyl flooring. A freestanding vintage armoire and hutch and metro rack shelving filled in for storage where cabinetry lacked. A porch next to the kitchen had been enclosed in the 1980’s with a booth and bay window installed.
Beth and Kris wanted to maintain the historic context while updating to a truly functional, gourmet kitchen. They both cook – a lot – and enjoy spending time at home with family. In their words: “We’re happy to live in an old house and don’t need the kitchen to feel new – one of the selling points of the house for us was that the kitchen had NOT been updated with the usual granite countertops, etc., as is so often the case in these older homes. We’d like to keep a period feel.”
From the moment we met, I sensed Beth and Kris’ appreciation for historic details expressed by their furnishings and modifications to the living areas. There would be a lot of opportunity for finessing the details, as they were keen to discuss every aspect of the design, from where the espresso machine would live to what the ceiling would look like. This would be a fun project to source vintage hardware and fixtures, and play with color, and design cabinetry details that would stay true to the historic quality.
Beth and Kris clearly had an appreciation for French antiques – both furnishings and acquired cookware. One book they referred to during the design process was about Monet’s house at Giverny. That was a pretty interesting starting point for the design!
In the revised plan, we grabbed space from the TV room closet to give ample space to the refrigerator / pantry with a built-in coffee counter. For optimum cooking, Beth chose a wall oven with microwave above, and separate Bertazzoni gas cooktop. We placed the ovens adjacent to the bay window, which became a “baking station” with a marble slab to work with pastry. The movable butcher block table works as a place for the kids to finger paint or snack while the parents cook, as well as an additional prep surface.
During the design of the cabinetry, Kris expressed that he was ‘really drawn to symmetry.’ In addition, he said, “What we want is to have the feeling that the cabinets aren’t a giant bank of uniform things hanging on the wall. I think we particularly want to avoid cabinets going around corners. We’d like them to have at least some differentiation, and probably some different colors.”
We saw an opportunity to incorporate a mirror into the oven wall, which would serve to expand the space visually and add an interesting feature to the otherwise blank wall. The design style evolved to combine rough, sleek, French bistro, and industrial elements. Says Beth, “The mirror really clinched the bistro concept for us. When we saw Cindy’s first drawings with the mirror, we were immediately reminded of Au Pied du Cochon in Paris, where we had the best French onion soup of our lives. “
As is always the case with an old house, there were some serendipitous moments that influenced the design. An out-of-plumb surface at the oven wall resulted in a thicker depth for the casework surrounding the mirror, which created space beneath for hooks for hanging aprons and the occasional decoration. The ceiling was also out of level, with differing surfaces of wood and drywall, so the trim at the ceiling both enhances and disguises this original condition.
Preparing for construction, the lighting selections, faucet, hardware, and finish colors were sourced and finalized. Kris found this stylish prep faucet and paired it with a modern take on the farmhouse sink.
At some point during the design process, Beth and Kris had figured out what they didn’t like about most modern cabinets: the sprayed finish. The cabinets were painstakingly hand-brushed to ensure richness and texture in a vibrant Lazy Sunday by Benjamin Moore.
Upon moving into and cooking in the kitchen, Beth summarizes, “the baking station was such a revelation. I hadn’t even dreamed of it. But Cindy understood that baking is really important to me. When I saw the baking station, I was in love. I still am. I churned out scores of cookies there this Christmas. And the gateau des rois (the puff-pastry based French cake traditionally served for the feast of Epiphany) Kris makes every year was his best ever. It’s true what they say about marble for pastry!
Moving from 1930 to 2013 was obviously a big change – and a real joy. It’s such luxury to use a dishwasher, and to know that my oven is going to hold the temperature I set it to. And the garbage disposal? Pure genius. But the best part is our kitchen still has the patina of time. We got the best of both worlds. The only downside is that now we can never move. ”
Architect: Hello Kitchen
Contractor: TAS Construction
Cabinetmaker: FAB Shop
Countertops: Honed black granite and Venetino marble from Architectural Tile & Stone
Appliances: Bertazzoni, KitchenAid, Electrolux, Futuro Vent-a-Hood
Plumbing Fixtures: Kraus
Photography by Nils Juul-Hansen