A thoroughly modern kitchen addition is well-versed in history
by Michael Walsh
Photography by Jeff McNamara
Outfitted with modern appliances yet blessed with vintage styling, Joan Garry and Eileen Opatut's formal but farmhousefriendly kitchen begs the question: Is this a new kitchen or a recently remodeled old kitchen? "If someone has to ask," says architect Francis C. Klein, ALA, "then I know I've been successful."
In fact, the kitchen is brand new, part of a recent room addition appended to the back of a well-preserved example of American Italianate architecture dating from 1854. The New Jersey home's previous kitchen was of much less certain vintage. A shed like lean-to barely 7 feet wide and standing on posts, it had been hastily added onto the house some time ago. On more than one occasion, Joan and Eileen had to thaw out frozen exposed pipes with hair dryers. "In the winter, the kitchen was so cold, we didn't even need a refrigerator," laughs Joan.
After removing the old kitchen, Klein and architectural assistant Pm Borland went to great lengths to make the new addition-including breakfast room, mudroom and full bath-as visually compatible with the original house as possible. Inside, high ceilings, long, narrow divided-light sash windows, arched niches in soffits, hefty crown molding and substantial woodwork are all in keeping with the original ltalianate details of the rest of the house. The owners also included painted cabinets, mosaic tile backs plashes, maple butcher block countertops and oak flooring-materials and finishes often found in 19th century kitchens.
Yet as important as historical compatibility was, catering to the everyday needs of Joan and Eileen-both television industry executives and three-year-old Sarah was paramount. Klein designed the addition so the kitchen proper is separated from the bath and mudroom by an 8-foot-wide aisle. On one side is a rear entrance and mudroom for bringing in groceries from the driveway, plus a full bath with tub because, says Joan, "three-year-olds come in from the backyard muddy." On the other side is a compact C-shaped cooking area with an island and a breakfast room that opens onto a deck for outdoor family meals and entertaining.
"At first, the aisle may look like a waste of space, but it functions beautifully in several ways," says Joan. "It gives us a wonderful view of the garden, keeps cleared dishes out of sight by separating the dining area from the prep area, provides a place for guests to congregate when we're entertaining-and basically amounts to an indoor playground for Sarah. So, we really did get the
- Michael Walsh is president of Designer Previews, a designer referral service in Chicago.
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