A Major Kitchen Design Makeover with an Updated Sense of Tradition
Shaping the Space
This home in Maplewood, New Jersey, built in 1843, had a kitchen that looked as if it didn't belong -- having been renovated in the '90s, it was too contemporary. It didn't honor the history or Greek Revival style of the home.
Raising the Ceiling
To create a grand, sweeping feel in the kitchen, the ceiling had to be raised. Unfortunately, there was a thick beam running across the room. The compromise: a coffered ceiling that incorporates the beam.
The House in All Its Glory
White and charming, the history-rich home had been in the same family for almost its entire existence, which meant that most of the rooms matched in style -- with the exception of the kitchen.
Before: A Cooking Island Clutters the Space
Though totally out of sync with the home from a style perspective, the kitchen was perfectly functional before. The only significant layout change it needed: The large, obtrusive kitchen island had to go; it clogged the flow of the room.
After: A Whole New Type of Island
To replace the island, an 1840s cast-iron stove base topped with zinc-coated copper went in the center of the room. It wasn't bulky, and it matched the aesthetic of the space. The checkerboard linoleum floor harkens back to early-American painted floors.
Before: A Promising Focal Point with an Unassuming Kitchen Sink
With an elegant backsplash and a sense of vintage granduer, the kitchen sink could be more than just a place for dirty dishes -- it can be the focal point of the room, especially since the windows above the sink look out onto rolling hills. However, the existing kitchen sink, with its painted-tile backsplash and double enamel, faded into the background.
After: A Spectacular Salvage Wakes Up the Space
The owners enhanced the look by installing a spectacular find -- a sink with an integrated drain board that had been salvaged from a school laboratory. Because of its high nickel content, the finish on the salvaged sink looks dull and worn, yet it complements the metals in the new appliances. The window sill was extended to provide plumbing access for the rear-mounted faucet.
Before: The Cabinet Conundrum
Cabinets can be very difficult (and expensive) to replace. These existing cabinets were built in and perfectly serviceable. But a more traditional-looking Shaker-style cabinet, which is emblematic of the Greek Revival style, would evoke a 19th-century atmosphere, befitting the house's historical nature.
Instead of gutting them entirely, the owners made just a few updates to achieve a cohesive Shaker look for the cabinetry.
Then, new face frames for the cabinets were nailed atop the originals, which bumped the fronts out by three-quarters of an inch and allowed the new doors to be flush-mounted -- a period look, but not a literal reproduction when combined with chrome hinges and knobs.
After: The Completed Cabinets
A darker tone for the face frames adds a subtle dimension to the room -- but just a subtle one: The Shaker look is meant to be straightforward.
Before: A Radiating Eyesore
The only wall not covered with cabinetry was obstructed by a cast-iron radiator -- the sole heating element in the space and one that could not be removed if the budget was to be kept.
To hide the radiator, a new custom buffet was crafted to give the kitchen the appearance of having evolved over time. For inspiration, the owners turned to books showing Greek revival furntirure design.
After: A Hidden Heater
A central grille masks the radiator, and a faux-mahogany top and 1840s blown-glass knobs provide intriguing touches. Above the buffet, narrow shelves are supported by triangular brackets and nailers embellished with the same slender wood strip that creates the pattern on the buffet doors.
After the woodwork was completed, seven different tones of green, in a combination of satin and flat finishes, were added to the piece. The hues create a richly textured palette that is complemented by the warm and cool grays in the appliances and the floor.