Projects

Design with Character

By Erinn Waldo
April 21, 2014

Today’s modern kitchen boasts clean lines and sleek surfaces, but this look threatened to clash against the classic style of one 19th-century Pennsylvania home.

“It’s nice to do something that has a little bit more character, where you can work with the natural features the home has, rather than designing a newer home and trying to give it character,” said designer Elizabeth Schultz of ABK Today. “This design really needed to fit with the character of the home.”

View this kitchen gallery here.

The stone and aged wooden façade of the home had unique qualities the young owners enjoyed, but the home’s dated kitchen fell short of a family-friendly space. “Their deadline was their wedding date, which was the week of Christmas that year,” explained Schultz. “We had to finish by then because they were having their wedding party there.”

In contrast to the idyllic stonewalls, the kitchen held typical white cabinetry, small windows and decades-old appliances.  After consulting architect Richard Pedranti, the couple decided to demolish the existing kitchen and expand the space to include a breakfast area.

“As far as the new space, they wanted to focus on function and use older accents,” added Schultz. “They wanted it to feel very classic.” Formerly the frame of the back entrance, the exterior stone archway became the room divider between the kitchen and the new breakfast area. The arched windows in the breakfast area and the arched wall behind the range mimic that distinctive element. “The new room design felt cohesive because of the arch motif,” she said.

Along with the large windows, the hand-scraped hardwood flooring brings in the outdoors and ties into the age of the home. A cherry cabinet, bench seat and a dining room set continue that classic coloring. The off-white cabinetry is a significant improvement from the previous installment because of its inset door style and forged steel hardware. “It doesn’t have that crisp feel to it, but it still feels clean and has an antique quality to it,” said Schultz, who added that each piece of the hand-forged hardware has a distinct touch. “If you had used it for the past 40 or 50 years, it would have the same quality,” she added. In the breakfast room, the dark chandelier relates back to the hardware’s rustic and antique quality.

Subtly modern aspects of the kitchen also blend the classic style with a more up-to-date appeal. For a touch of modernity, a farmhouse sink, stainless steel appliances and a contemporary faucet were used, as well as a gray leather countertop. “It’s a newer look for countertops, but the color and the tones are very classic,” said Schultz.

Similarly, the backsplash behind the range highlights the golden undertones with a blue and gold hand-painted floral design. “It ties in nicely with some of the accents they wanted,” said Schultz. As for accent lighting, the architect recommended 3-in., low-voltage, recessed lights, which Schultz credits for the soft yet modern light in the kitchen.

“As far as blending the old in new, the materials should pick up on the architectural details the home already has,” she added. “It’s about listening to your client and observing the space you already have to work with and really being practical with it.”

Blending an Older Home with a Newer Renovation
Elizabeth Schultz listened to her clients’ desires for a traditional, rustic look that blended with their 19th-century home. Here are some tips she offered for designing a similar kitchen.

    •    Avoid materials that are too modern for the space.
    •    Pick up on the architectural details of the home.
    •    Mimic or reference unique elements.
    •    Be practical with the limits of an older space.
     •    Integrate distinctive, older elements rather than hiding them.
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