Medieval Kitchen Inspired by Old English Castles

WINTER PARK, FL —
When the owner of this Orlando, FL area home built it several years ago, he had the builder go in and install a kitchen that by any other standard would be fine to the undiscerning eye. However, being a kitchen designer and owner of his own kitchen and bath firm, Rick Caccavello knew he wanted something very different: “an old English Castle with a medieval touch.”

At first glance, one might think that the idea for this 19'x17' kitchen was grounded in a love of the gothic. Indeed, it does include a discreet gallery of authentic medieval battle pieces, medieval-inspired sconces and pots, and pantry doors replete with cast-iron grates that serve as speakeasies. But, as Caccavello quickly and firmly points out, it is not.

“My wife and I just love that castle design. We love the Old World look, its warmth. In fact, the rest of our house is done in the same warm wood tones as this kitchen, and it really has a warm glow about it,” explains Caccavello, who is president of Central Kitchen & Bath. “We watch the Discovery and Travel channels a lot and every time there’s a show about castles, we tune it. It’s something that my wife loves, and that’s always triggered my interest. We also have three kids, so we’ve watched all of the ‘Harry Potter’ movies and the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. I love to look at the architecture in those movies, the way it’s all drawn so beautifully.”

Self-described architecture buffs, the couple also drew ideas from books and the Internet. “It was a blast researching and gathering ideas. The theme was definitely achieved, and we love it. When people walk into the house now, the most common response is, “Wow,” says Caccavello. “[The kitchen] draws the imaginations of guests back in time as they step into this spacious area fit for any king or queen.”

He adds: “As for the rest of the home, we have been in the Old World theme since we moved into it, and the kitchen has truly complemented the home.”

He began researching kitchens of castles in old England, drinking in the details like a good glass of mead. So when it finally came time to transform the original kitchen, Caccavello knew exactly where to begin: the hearth.

“I wanted a big impact piece. I wanted one of those old fireplaces where you walked into them to cook, with hanging pots. The idea grew from there,” recalls Caccavello.

He drew upon the help of few designers at his firm to bring this mid-summer “knight’s” dream to life. “[Since] the client was me – much to the chagrin of my staff – the design was a collaborative effort. As you can imagine, the whole staff had some ‘input.’ But the three lead designers were Jennifer Dasher, designer, Lauren Bailey, designer, and myself,” Caccavello notes with a smile. Together, they embarked on the remodel of Caccavello’s existing kitchen.

THE KNIGHT’S KEEP

At the start, Caccavello and his team faced a few challenges. For one, it was important to stay true to the look and feel of an old English medieval castle, as opposed to pulling from other types of medieval castles. “Cindy and I decided on a castle theme, and we wanted it as authentic as possible,” he notes.

Caccavello began with what he calls the “hood surround/chimney” area. “This was the first thing I drew when we decided on the theme. It [looks like] an old-time, walk-in fireplace used for cooking and such.”

The “walk-in cooking fireplace” features a cultured stone surround made of European Castle Stone in Chardonnay that runs floor to ceiling with the arch trimmed in Tejas custom-colored, textured stone cobble stones and a keystone placed firmly in the center of the arch. A 200-year-old reclaimed wood mantel and antique sconces custom-made in Mexico, and a tumbled limestone backsplash with bronze decorative inlays, finish the look. Carved legs support the Juparana Sunset granite with an eased edge and Wolf 36", six-burner, stainless gas rangetop. A Modern-Aire hood liner completes the area.

Next on the list was the creation of the oversized island, which Caccavello feels made a huge improvement not only to the function of the work triangle, but also to the overall traffic flow.

“The old configuration had an angled, two-tiered outer island, which was better known as ‘the barrier island.’ It separated the working area and created traffic jams near the kitchen entry area when entertaining more than just a few guests,” explains Caccavello, who’s also the 2007 second v.p. for the Bath and Kitchen Buying Group (BKBG) and the 2007 associate v.p. for the Metro Orlando Home Builders Association (HBA).

The massive new island opens up the flow between the adjacent Great Room, allowing 60-plus guests to flow smoothly through the kitchen and create their own inviting conversation areas.

Measuring a mighty 11-1/2'x6-1/2', it features Cuisine Laurier Renoir cabinetry in Birch Olive Fog with Brown glaze, heavy distressing and Alno Creations’ Rust hardware. It’s topped by Juparana Sunset granite, and houses a Sub-Zero wine storage unit with a wood frame over glass in Olive Fog with Brown glaze and heavy distressing, plus a stainless Asko dishwasher.

It also has a hand-crafted copper farmhouse, apron-front sink with a reversed-hammered, dark-patina, hand-rubbed, antique finish and a heavily distressed black walnut top. It’s softly lit by artificial candle light from the custom light fixture made from reclaimed timbers and wrought iron. On top, in the center, Caccavello placed three inset drawers topped with a distressed black walnut countertop from Craft-Art.

The rest of the cabinetry is Laurier Renoir in Rustic Alder Coffee Bean with Black glaze, heavy distressing and Top Knobs’ Normandy Patina Rough.

Caccavello then turned his attention to the space above the stainless, 48", side-by-side Sub-Zero refrigerator. Above it, he installed what he calls the “Dungeon.” Stone-walled and iron-gated, this striking feature is packed with authentic medieval battle weapons.

The refrigerator is part of the functional work triangle Caccavello created in one corner of the new kitchen by moving all of the appliances to one of two walls of the kitchen’s original “L” shape. They include a stainless Dacor 30" double oven and a stainless GE microwave.

Not to be ignored is the walk-in pantry entrance. It features a pair of arched entry doors custom-made of the same 200-year-old reclaimed timbers surrounded by Tejas textured, custom-colored, cobble stones. King Architectural Metals forged-steel castle door pulls and two wrought-iron grates that serve as more modern-day speakeasies finish the look.

This last functional focal point completes the theme, truly turning Caccavello’s home into his castle. While that may sound like a cliché, the end result is anything but. And the warm, highly functional kitchen is much more reflective of the Caccavellos’ love of beautiful, detailed and rich architecture and their desire to bring the best of the past to life, than it is of a desire to live in the past. It’s an architectural ode to a romantic, chivalrous era long gone by.

Caccavello and his team’s efforts were recognized by three different design competitions. It won the Aurora award for Remodeling, Rehabilitation or Historical Restoration and the Grand Aurora award in the 2006 Aurora Awards, presented by a professional builder’s affiliation which includes the Florida Home Builders Association and the Southeast Building Conference (SEBC).

The kitchen also won first place and a Grand award in the HBA of Metro Orlando’s Parade of Homes 2006 Design Specialty Showcase for a kitchen remodel costing more than $50,000.

Lastly, it won Best Remodeling Project, Partial/Room Remodel in the HBA of Metro Orlando’s 2006 MAME (Major Achievements in Marketing Excellence) Awards.

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