A white kitchen is the little black dress of interior design, a classic choice that never goes out of style. That’s exactly what one couple was looking for in their Villanova home. The empty nesters wanted to replace the faded wallpaper and outdated appliances with a fresh, open kitchen that also represents a new phase in their lives—a place to relax, cook together and entertain.
To reinterpret their cramped, peninsula-style kitchen into a cheerful, welcoming space, they turned to Chestnut Hill’s Glenna Stone. “They wanted a gorgeous space with minimal maintenance and fuss,” says Stone, who’d designed kitchen transformations for two of the couple’s neighbors. “They also wanted to be connected to their guests.”
Creating a flow that inspires gathering required a re-envisioning of both the kitchen and the adjoining family room.
The designer came up with a plan to make the spaces function in harmony. “Since we were getting this beautiful new kitchen, we wanted that updated feeling to carry over to the family room,” the owner says.
Stone collaborated with EB Mahoney Builders, whose team removed the load-bearing wall between the rooms and installed a beam to structurally support the significantly widened opening.
To minimize disruption, the owners scheduled the project for the summer, when they’d be away or could grill and dine outdoors.
To create a crisp white expanse, Stone selected custom beveled Shaker-style cabinets by Village Handcrafted Cabinetry of Lansdale. Ensuring a seamless look, she had panels installed over the refrigerator and dishwasher doors, along with a square range hood accented with a circle motif. Soffits were removed to take the upper cabinets up to the ceiling, enhancing storage and giving the illusion of more height.
Slabs of white quartz subtly grained in warm taupe offer a transition on the countertop, the backsplash and the center island. “Marble wouldn’t do for this project because it’s high maintenance,” Stone says. “Quartz is easy to clean and easy to maintain, with no grout lines.”
Plus, the island eases the closed-in feeling created by the old peninsula and eliminates extra steps required to navigate around it. With greater ease of movement, preparing meals is a joy rather than a chore. “Having the kitchen layout reconfigured has been a game changer,” the owner says. “It feels bright and open, and it’s so easy for us to be working on a meal while guests hang out at the island and chat.”
The island also provides a casual dining area, thanks to four comfy upholstered chairs. This freed up real estate previously occupied by a table and chairs. Instead, the owners opted for a dry bar with a beverage refrigerator and storage for glassware. “Having a designated bar area keeps guests out of the cooking zones,” the designer notes. “We also mirrored the backsplash to give the space more sparkle and light, which makes it appear larger.”
Retaining the existing white oak floors grounds the space and gives it a warm, natural counterpoint to the expanses of white cabinets and countertops. Antique brass hardware on the cabinets is echoed in a trio of brass-and-glass pendant lights over the island.
Because they enjoy cooking, the owners invested in high-end appliances, including a Sub-Zero refrigerator and a Wolf induction range and steam oven. “Induction ranges have become much more affordable, and consumers appreciate how flexible and convenient they are,” says Stone. “You can heat a big pot of pasta water in two minutes. You can bridge the cooktop and make one big burner.”
Custom storage helps maximize efficiency. Spice racks are integrated into a drawer under the cooktop, and there’s a dedicated storage bin in the pullout pantry for potatoes and onions. The sink in the island is outfitted with a touch faucet. “If you’re cooking and your hands are yukky, you just tap the faucet with your wrist,” Stone says.
By analyzing their needs and prioritizing their wish list, the couple wound up with amenities that truly matter to them. “We went over all the things we wanted in our new kitchen with Glenna, and she was really able to incorporate everything,” the owner says.
In the family room, dated arched windows were replaced with energy efficient rectangular versions that allow for more natural light. The designer kept the base of the existing built-in entertainment center but redesigned the top to accommodate the TV and decorative collectibles. “We painted it a cool suede blue to balance out the white in the kitchen,” Stone says.
The original ceiling beams were illuminated with track lights, installed on the side facing the back of the house “so they disappear,” says Stone.
The fireplace mantel is a vintage beam reclaimed from a barn in Villanova. “It’s wonderful when you can find one in great condition,” Stone says.
Like the kitchen cabinets, the furniture is designed to suit the owners’ lifestyle. A pair of chairs upholstered in a graphic print fabric are outfitted with artfully concealed swivel bases that enable the user to easily swing from browsing Netflix to chatting with a spouse in the kitchen. “Swivel chairs are back,” Stone says. “The owners love the chairs so much that they use them to watch TV—instead of the sofa.”
With enhanced comfort, a lighter, brighter décor and a user-friendly layout, the owners expect to enjoy their kitchen and gathering space for years to come.
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