No matter how they sliced it, the kitchen was going to be long and narrow—especially if they inserted an island in the middle of it. The Stilps considered doing away with the staircase between the kitchen and the family room to buy some space, but simply couldn't do it. "The house would no longer be a foursquare if we did that," says Regina. The decision was crucial: A back staircase, leading upstairs from the mudroom, certainly improved traffic flow. Remove it, and they'd be left with a great room—a combined kitchen and family room—at the rear. Some people would have cheered at the notion, but large, multipurpose rooms leave Regina cold. "I hate the idea of hearing someone putting away the dishes while I'm watching TV with the kids," she says. So the staircase stayed. The kitchen designers would have to work their magic to make the place feel roomy.
Quartersawn white oak cabinets wrap the kitchen, with matching panels to conceal the 48-inch Sub-Zero fridge. Slatted doors, chamfered posts on the island, period-style lighting, a handcrafted-tile backsplash, and thick slabs of green granite complete the look.