May 22, 2023
This article was originally published on May 22, 2023; it was updated June 6, 2023.
After living in their home for many years, a couple had a good idea about what was not working, and they were ready for a change. With a desire to entertain guests more comfortably and better accommodate their lifestyle, which included four dogs, they called on Stacy Millman, principal, West Hartford, Conn.-based SKM Design, to give them the updated colonial kitchen to make it all possible.
The existing dark and dated kitchen lacked flow into the adjacent spaces. It was cut off from a small breakfast area by a peninsula topped with columns, while the dining room was accessible through a narrow door. To give them the big gathering area her clients wanted, Millman altered the layout of the kitchen, expanded entryways and increased available space with a small addition to create a mudroom. She aimed for a design that was simplified, fresh and brighter but still had details in keeping with the architecture.
“It is a colonial home,” said the designer. “The homeowners like trim work and woodwork, but it was overly done in the previous version.”
Millman’s first decision was to remove the peninsula between the kitchen and breakfast area, combining them into one larger, more open room. It made a big difference, but the overall footprint did not change, and luckily, the peninsula columns were not structural, so no reinforcing was needed. The kitchen gained even more with new windows and French doors that now lead to a new covered patio.
The doorway to the dining room was widened, improving the flow between the eating and cooking areas. The kitchen wall leading into the dining room previously included an opening toward the front door, which Millman closed off to reimagine the whole wall as an entertaining bar – easily accessible from the kitchen and dining room.
One vital element lacking in this New England home was a true mudroom. Millman took over a hallway and bumped out the front of the house with a 120-sq.-ft. addition to create one with plenty of storage and a sink for washing dogs.
Meeting Design Challenges
From the beginning, the clients’ four dogs were an important factor in the design, and one challenge Millman had to meet was creating a concealed dog gate between the kitchen and dining room, made more difficult by the now larger opening.
“That was the biggest challenge – figuring out how to make that look like it was part of the house design, purposeful and also functional,” said the designer.
Because there were pipes in the wall, a pocket door-style gate was not possible. Instead, she designed a custom, foldable wood gate that pulls out from a wood case that looks like a cabinet along a dining room wall.
The ceiling in the kitchen offered another obstacle – it followed the pitched roofline in the breakfast area. To make the open kitchen feel like one room, Millman brought the ceiling to one level throughout. That left it at a lower height, so she added her spin on a coffered ceiling and included wide pendants above the new kitchen island.
“We gave the ceiling a little detail with woodwork to enhance what would have been a really long, flat ceiling,” she said. “The wide pendants make it feel a bit grand, and I like that they are open and not blocking views.”
Infusing a Colonial Kitchen with New Style
Millman had to ensure the newly opened kitchen, mudroom and dining room coordinated with each other with a more modern design that also complemented the rest of the traditional home. The bar, which is in the kitchen, feels like a separate space with cabinets in rustic wood and an antique mirrored backsplash. Yet the door details of the cabinetry and the countertops are the same as those in the kitchen.
“The bar leads in from the dining room, so it’s a bit more furniture like, but it maintains the clean lines of kitchen,” explained the designer.
Accessible through a doorway next to the bar, the mudroom is its own space too, but it is visually connected to the kitchen through its white cabinetry and similar cabinet door style. A wood-frame and glass Dutch door leads to the mudroom, allowing it to be a separate space while still connected to the other areas. Millman added paneling along one wall to bring in a decorative architectural feature in the same way she added the millwork to the kitchen ceiling. Although they were a fit for the home’s design, working in some of these details initially caused her apprehension from a spatial standpoint.
“I was concerned about adding any wood detail to the low ceiling, as the long shape of the space can cause it to feel lower,” she said. “However, the shallow coffer detailing we designed adds so much dimension. It breaks up a long, flat ceiling plane and brings the eye up.”
—By Carrie Whitney, KBB Newsletter Editor
Designer: Stacy Millman, SKM Design, LLC, Principal
Photographer: Julie Bidwell Photography
General Contractor: Liljedahl Bros.
KITCHEN & BAR
Backsplash: Tile Designs of New England
Cabinet Hardware: Colonial Bronze
Cabinets & Hood Surround: Candlelight Cabinetry
Countertop: HanStone Quartz
Faucets: Brizo & Kohler
Hood Liner: Faber
Ice Maker: U-Line
Lighting: Lightology & Worlds Away
Sinks: Kohler & Native Trails
Wine Cooler: Marvel
Backsplash & Flooring: Tile Designs of New England
Countertop: HanStone Quartz
Dutch Door: Masonite
Paint: Benjamin Moore
Sink: Glacier Bay
Wall Molding: Liljedahl Bros.