Bringing the Past to Life

Ask Ron Nowfel, IDS, of Altamonte Springs, FL-based Robb & Stucky Interiors, and design consultant Jessica Iaconis, also of Robb & Stucky, about the Renewed American Home 2007, and they will probably tell you that everything old is new again.

After all, when the pair chose to participate in the project – featured in conjunction with the New American Home 2007 at this year’s International Builders’ Show – they quickly realized that the goal for this historic 1909 model home was not merely renovation, but replication.

“Much of our design had to do with keeping true to the period of the original 1909 house,” Nowfel says. “While it was supposed to be a renovation, we also had to make the historical society happy as well and, believe me, the society watched over every move we made.”

“We wanted to bring everything up to date and use modern-day amenities, but really make sure it could [pass for 1909],” adds Iaconis.

In order to successfully capture their vision, the pair needed to gut the pre-existing 2,462-sq.-ft. model home and fill it with a mixture of high-end lines that would evoke the best of the past and present, while also incorporate Universal Design principles. They also had to ensure that the home was designated as Energy-Star certified.

Working with the two designers were Winter Park, FL-based builder PSG Construction, Inc., and Karen Kassik, CPBD, AIBD, designer/managing partner of Winter Park, FL-based Lucia, Kassik & Monday, Inc., who served as residential designer and architect.

Kassik explains: “Since we gutted the home, we could design anything we wanted. The finished level needed to reflect the character of the home, while it also featured an open kitchen with a lot of workspace and traditional flavor.”

The design team also notes that the New American Home 2007 (which sits next door to the Renewed American Home 2007) is better suited for a couple without children, while the Renewed American Home 2007 is more family based.

To that end, the Renewed America Home features a parent suite on the floor right beside the kitchen, leaving everything open and functional. It also offers Universal Design principals, as someone in a wheelchair could easily use the kitchen.

The home also boasts a wet bar on the basement level, a morning kitchen on the upper level of the home and a kitchenette.
“In the morning kitchen, we wanted to have a place where you can have juice or coffee or popcorn without having to come down the stairs. There’s also a microwave and a refrigerator, a half-drawer dishwasher and a sink in there,” she describes.

She continues: “The third level of the house features a wide gallery, with a kitchenette with cabinets by Merillat, countertops by Silestone, and Whirlpool Corp. and KitchenAid appliances.”

The Whirlpool Corp. dishwasher/drawer was used in all of the accessory kitchen areas of the home as well.

“I am very proud of the overall design of the home,” she says. “When you walk in, there is a 65-foot vista to the back wall of the house, and the main kitchen is part of that. It’s very welcoming. No one would feel like they were closed off in a little space.”

Enduring Tradition

According to the design team, the 369-sq.-ft. main kitchen offers a traditional feel, highlighted by Merillat cabinetry finished in Cabernet and subtle aging-in-place elements.

Kassik explains: “The look we were going for was achieved by creating a full-height wall of cabinets and appliances above the stairwell wall. Along the window wall, we had a whole bank of lower cabinets that flanked the range.”

“The cabinets were Old-World looking and true to the period of of the home,” says Nowfel. “We enhanced the look by using glass on some of the door fronts. We chose clear glass so that the homeowner could easily see through it to the interior contents.”

Nowfel adds: “The trick here was trying to marry traditional-styled cabinets and doors with modern appliances. Rather than place door panels on the refrigerator and dishwasher, we chose stainless steel because we wanted to blend the old and new.”

The design team also installed two decorative cabinets on each side of the stainless steel hood. The cabinets were, in turn, flanked by windows. Located below the hood the designers created a backsplash using slate tiles from Dal-tile.

“The tiles were period-looking that were multi-colored,” comments Nowfel. “They were truly meant to be a focal point for the room.”

“In effect, that whole section of cabinetry that came out separated the kitchen from the eating area – there were absolutely no uppers at all,” Kassik describes.

Mahogany countertops from Silestone topped the base cabinets, adding to the richness of the design.

“There is also a Kohler farmhouse sink and prep sink that has porcelain on the front of it, which creates an old-time look,” Nowfel points out.

The main faucet and prep faucet, from Moen, feature an oil-rubbed bronze finish to further capture that authentic look, he adds.

Rounding out the overall aesthetic are hickory wood floors from Armstrong and lighting from Progress Lighting, including the island fixture and pendants found over the bar.

Back to the Future

According to Nowfel and Iaconis, there are a significant number of modern-day conveniences incorporated into the main kitchen and the surrounding area.

Specifically, the kitchen features a variety of KitchenAid appliances, including a refrigerator, range, dishwasher, wine cooler and mixer.

“Conversely, on the wall facing the kitchen, there is a Dell plasma monitor TV where the owner can store recipes or enjoy cooking shows,” he notes.

“Next to that TV, we have a little office space with a built-in laptop,” Iaconis adds.

Kassik concludes: “We really wanted to create space for an entire family to enjoy [and still have room] for an aging parent to function in the kitchen.”

What’s In Store

Storage was also a critical component of the layout – especially since there is no butler’s pantry.

“It’s the reason why there are so many big drawers found in the home, as well as the in walk-in pantry on the basement level and the bulk pantry/safe room,” Kassik explains.

“One of the other unique features of this kitchen is that there is a laundry chute built into the cabinetry, right next to the refrigerator,” Nowfel adds. “It starts on the third floor and goes to the basement, running through a cabinet in the kitchen.”

“We also tried to put in a lot of dish drawers; the intention there was to use aging-in-place design elements. Specifically, we wanted most of the dish storage and pots and pans storage to be below countertop height,” Kassik adds.

As a result, the 6'x4' Merillat island plays a key role for dish storage. Decorative glass-front cabinets that face out into the gallery “make it very pretty to look at” and provide ample storage, notes Kassik.

Maintaining the traditional theme used in the room, the island features pewter coloring, teamed with Silestone Black Anubis countertops. It serves as a strong complement to the cherry coloring of the kitchen itself. A wine cooler is positioned at the end of the bar.

Access Approved

When designing the baths in the home, it was not only important for the 176-sq.-ft. master bath and parent’s suite bath to carry the overall design theme, they also had to offer ample space and accessibility.

To that end, the main challenge in the master bath was allowing for a three-foot walkway around the Kohler clawfoot tub while still providing enough space for a shower enclosure and storage.

From the tub, homeowners can enjoy a fireplace and Dell plasma television, “a mix of old and new once again,” Nowfel comments.

Merillat vanities are complemented by Silestone Tea Leaf countertops with rounded edges. Built-in cubbies and storage above the toilet provide areas to stow away linens and toiletries.

“[From an aesthetic standpoint], the biggest feature in the bathroom is that we chose to tile the walls from floor-to-ceiling in a harlequin pattern with [brick-shaped] tile from Dal-Tile,” Iaconis offers.

Finishing the master bath are vanity and can lights from Progress Lighting.

Similar challenges faced the design team with regard to the parent’s suite, Kassik notes.

“We didn’t have enough space to make it a perfectly accessible bath, but we designed it to make it more spacious,” she offers.

To that end, the design team set up a walk-through to the shower and installed a sloped door in the shower.

“The vanity is also a universal-type vanity because it’s lower and has nothing underneath. In addition, the toilets are handicap height for easier use. The space is designed to be as accessible as possible,” she concludes.

For more about the IBS, also visit Live Events, Top Headlines and the Kitchen & Bath Confidential blog.
Also see the New American Home 2007 from the IBS, plus the April 2007 Design Update.