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Home Is Where the Kitchen Ist

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A vast center island anchors the home’s complete kitchen renovation and expansion.

Staci and Matthew Casey’s kitchen really didn’t need a makeover. In fact, most people would’ve been impressed by the 10-year-old space as it was. The oak cabinets still looked new, and the layout opened nicely into the family room. 

But the Caseys wanted the kichen to be the focal point of their Villanova home—and a space that was better suited to their young family. Plans involved creating a
more comfortable flow, while expanding the living area with a covered porch.   

The goal was to create a substantial space for entertaining. So it helped to get some good news from Bryn Mawr’s Gardner/Fox Associates. “The kitchen was able to stay in its original location,” says Gardner/Fox architect Jeff Brinton. 

Nonethless, the new layout would increase the depth of the original space, essentially doubling its size. The Caseys opted for a large center island that accommodates up to eight people. Room for a small table allows for the option of more intimate, formal seating. 

“That seems to be the current trend,” says Brinton. “People don’t always eat together anymore.” 

An exterior view of the Villanova home; a traditional post-and-beam porch addition includes a fireplace and flat-screen television; display cabinets and a dedicated workspace are among the kitchen’s many custom touches.

a green approach

Rather than replacing the existing cabinetry, the Caseys opted for a more eco-friendly, cost-conscious approach. “Staci didn’t want to see these perfectly good cabinets thrown into a dumpster,” says award-winning kitchen designer David Stimmel.

Brought on by Gardner/Fox to aid in the design of the space, Stimmel dismantled the cabinets and brought them back to his shop. 

“The key was figuring out how to reuse what existed and how many cabinets needed to be created,”  he says.

In the end, over half the cabinetry was repurposed. “You spend about 40 percent less than you would on a new kitchen,” says Stimmel. “I’m surprised that more people don’t think to do it. Sometimes, you can just paint them. It’s a real cost saver.”

white makes a comeback

In keeping with current trends, the Caseys chose cream cabinetry with distressed black accents. “White is so popular right now,” says Stimmel. “I’ve been designing kitchens since I was 16 years old, and every 10 years, white comes back—and it comes back really strong.”

To that end, Stimmel loves the contrast  in the Casey’s space. “The white-and-black really makes it a timeless, classic design,” he says. 

Elsewheere in the kitchen, the base of the center island is topped with white Carrara marble, and a side wall acts as an accent, with a refrigerator behind black panels. The client also requested display cabinets for her dinnerware. “But she wanted them to be functional, too,” says Stimmel, who added glass to the sides so more light could pass through.

space for all seasons

Above the kitchen’s massive island, a rough-hewn piece of timber runs along the ceiling, connecting to a similar support beam at the edge of the family room. This brings an unexpected rustic quality to the renovation while tying into the post-and-beam porch addition perfectly. 

For the latter project, Brinton transformed a small fieldstone patio off the kitchen into an architectural gem with mortise-and-tenon joints. “They wanted a covered outdoor space that tied into the style of the house,” says Brinton, who designed all the beam work, which was finished in hem fir and oak. 

After the designs were complete, Brinton tapped renowned Kennett Square-based timber-framing company Hugh Lofting to do all the technical
drawings for the structure. The Caseys originally pictured their porch as an open space, but Brinton convinced them to install retractable Phantom screens that operate at the touch of a button. 

A weather-proof flatscreen television and a wood-burning fireplace finish off the outdoor room, which is accessible from the kitchen through French doors. 

Beyond that, an extension of the flagstone patio boasts an outdoor kitchen with a built-in grill area and sink. 

“The owners wanted a space that could be used for parties and social gatherings throughout the year,” says Brinton. “They have that now.”