Period Look Kitchen, Updated Function
A from-scratch kitchen with every convenience and finely crafted woodwork is a natural fit for a Craftsman-style home
It can be a challenge to find an old home's true personality under the onionlike layers of improvements. When the owners of a 1908 Arts and Crafts house in Briarcliff Manor, New York, decided to rework a poorly laid-out addition that held a cold 1980s kitchen, they had to find a way to channel the space's long-obliterated Craftsman spirit. One thing was clear: Nothing about the walled-off kitchen worked—neither its utilitarian style and lack of seating nor its isolation from other rooms. After two years of scribbling ideas on napkins, the couple called on local contractor Eric Messer and architect Carol Kurth.
"We wanted to integrate the kitchen, which was isolated in a separate wing, and make it feel like it was always part of the house," says Kurth. Because the whole wing needed a more livable layout, the solution was to relocate the kitchen to where the breakfast room had been, bump out for an eating nook and pantry, and put a new family room in the old kitchen's space. The remodel established an easy flow from the kitchen to the adjoining dining room (in the main part of the house) and among the spaces in the reconfigured wing. The new kitchen's warm cherry cabinets, range hood, and crown molding, as well as reproduction Craftsman-inspired light fixtures, fit the old house's period style to a T. But its granite counters and muscular appliances are very much of the moment. Says the wife, "What people notice most is that, though the kitchen looks new, it fits in so well with the rest of the house."
Cherry crown molding was stained to match the trim in the dining and living rooms. The ceiling-hung cabinets over the peninsula have glass doors on both sides to bring light from the breakfast area to the kitchen.
Turned-leg details and paneled sides that match the rest of the custom cabinets give the center island the feel of freestanding furniture. The sink and granite top make it a hardworking prep area.
A cherry mantel and paneling hide the vent hood, and a tumbled-slate mosaic-tile backsplash with embossed copper accents alludes to Craftsman style. Tropical brown granite covers every countertop in the kitchen. For a subtle contrast, the island surface was honed for a softer finish, while the countertops were polished for a harder surface that needs less frequent sealing.
An undercounter microwave keeps a section of counter along the fridge wall clear of clutter and is handy for zapping morning coffee and a muffin. Located between the kitchen and the breakfast nook, the counter serves as a runway for plates and platters.
The '80s-era kitchen had sterile metal cabinets.
The U-shaped kitchen was separated from the breakfast room by a staircase. The dining room was even farther away.
1. Relocated the kitchen to the former breakfast room, adjacent to the dining room. This entailed building a wall where the stairs had been and reorienting them. The new kitchen's
L-shaped layout has an island with a prep sink and seating for quick meals. The fridge is recessed into a niche carved out of the dining room wall to ease traffic flow around the island.
2. Bumped out the window-seat wall in the former breakfast room by 14 feet for a bay-windowed breakfast nook, which is set off from the kitchen's work area by the granite-topped peninsula.
It leads to a butler's pantry with food storage, prep space, and a pair of undercounter beverage fridges.
3. Built a family room, with the reoriented stairs off it, and a side entry where the kitchen had been, bumping out exterior walls for both. The new layout has an easy, circular flow.
The kitchen moved to the breakfast room space and was enlarged with an integrated breakfast nook, which leads to a new butler's pantry and side entry. The stairs were moved to a new family room built where the old kitchen had stood.