Kitchen Turned into Space Perfect for Busy Family

W hen a 20-year-old galley kitchen lacking natural light wasn’t cutting it any more for an on-the-go husband and wife with two active teenage boys, they sought professional help – design help, that is!

The couple turned to Debra Tan and Ken Pascal of True North Cabinets and SMC Stone, LLC in New Canaan, CT. Pascal is the principal and served as the project manager, and Tan is a senior designer who created the new layout.

“The husband is a high-level executive and the wife is very active in the community and non-profit initiatives. The two boys are avid athletes and always have lots of teammates over for snacks,” says Pascal.

This family desperately needed a space that would lend itself to heavy entertaining, have room for casual dining in addition to the existing formal dining room and keep the living, eating and kitchen areas separate inside of one open space.

To give the family what they needed, the duo collaborated with the wife very closely on what Pascal terms “a major remodel” that called for an addition that measures about 21-1/2'Wx31'L.

It includes an approximately 21-1/2'Wx13'L kitchen and family room with a stone fireplace backing the original structure and patio doors opening to the backyard patio and the pool. Outside, a pool house features another kitchen area set up for casual entertaining.

“The clients wanted to turn a traditional split-level into an updated Nantucket-style house from the outside in. [Working outward, they began with] natural colored small wooden shingles, copper gutters and onion lamps, a natural wooden roof and a mahogany front door, [acheiving] the traditional look of a New England Nantucket Style house,” elaborates Pascal. “The main entry has a wide mahogany door with large side lights.

The entrance complements the color and grain of the lyptus desk that one can see off to the right [upon entry].”

Pascal and Tan worked with SWS Builders in Stamford, CT, which built the space and installed the Kountry Kraft cabinets. “Dave Williams, a partner, and the lead on-site team worked closely with Gene Salvatore, who’s also a partner at SWS Builders,” notes Pascal. Michael Palumbo Designs served as the project’s architectural firm.

“They also wanted an open floorplan, [so we put in] tall ceilings that add to the feeling of openness. The two entrances to the dining room were widened to allow for better traffic flow,” notes Pascal. The traditional look of the exterior was then carried through the entire home.
The finished home will be part of the YWCA of Darien-Norwalk’s Holiday House Tour next month, notes Pascal.


The primary goal of this kitchen project was to add light and enough space for a center island, computer desk area and a banquette for extra seating and serving. So, Tan and the rest of the team began the project by flipping the working area of the kitchen to face the front of the house to accommodate a much-desired window centered over the new farmhouse sink.

Tan then created an oversized center island with a Rohl Allia Fireclay prep sink and Blanco antique bronze faucet. “Because this is a busy kitchen, and the client wanted more than the typical 4' aisle between the perimeter and the island, we made it 5',” adds Pascal.

The island provided a vast working and seating area, and created a natural barrier transitioning the kitchen area from the family room. The combination of using natural wood floors and large diagonal 16"x16" Golden Sienna granite stones quarried in Mexico also created a look of both separation from and connection to the different living areas. Radiant heating was installed underneath the floors for warmth.

Tan also included a custom lyptus table and bench, plus a separate desk area where the wife can organize the family, pay bills and work on projects for local non-profit organizations.

In terms of function, Tan specified some of the latest GE Monogram appliances, at the clients’ request. She took out the old electric range and installed a gas cooktop, two built-in ovens and a large microwave to support cooking for very large crowds. She positioned them on the right side of the house to have access to an existing underground propane tank.

The left side of the kitchen was designed to be the food preparation and serving area. It includes two island refrigerator drawers, a built-in refrigerator and a wine cooler in a nearby 4-1/2' wet bar that support the extra drink capacity needed for entertaining large parties. The beverage drawers also place cold drinks at hand at the banquette.


The layout Tan conceived was pulled together by a number of elements – not the least of which was the heavy use of decorative, yet substantial moldings, pilasters, corbels and the like. They facilitated the traditional feel and Nantucket style of the home, plus anchored and added depth to the cabinetry in the kitchen proper.

“Because of the kitchen’s large size, we applied lots of wood details around the kitchen,” explains Tan.

She started with Kountry Kraft 3001 frameless cabinets with CRP10 raised-panel doors and paneled sides. The maple perimeter cabinets and bead board accents feature Honey Sweet paint and glaze. The lyptus island, banquette, desk, wet bar and the interior of the glass cabinets showcase a Nutmeg stain.

“Moldings were then chosen that were appropriate to the scale of the room,” notes Tan.

For example, a 6"-high, two-part crown assembly consisting of a crown molding and a frieze board highlight the tops of the wall cabinets. Decorative pilasters at the island with arched corbels hold up the raised Ivory Gold granite countertop.

“This detail was repeated with narrow storage cabinets for spice pull-outs and tray slots on either side of the cooktop and mantel hood, and again at the sink where there is a pull-out towel rod,” explains Tan.

“An applied base and toe molding wraps the bottom of the double oven, all of the pilasters and the front of the island to add substance to the design,” she adds.

Additional storage was key to Tan’s design, as well. She struck a balance between maintaining the look of an open-plan kitchen and creating a significant amount of new storage space.

For instance, Tan transformed the old powder room into a large walk-in pantry for bulk shopping, trash and cleaning supplies. The island also conceals additional trash cans for cooking and clean-up.

The color scheme, Tan continues, also helped to tie the space together. That’s where Vickie Galvin, interior decorator with Calico Corners in Charlottesville, VA, came in; she also worked closely with the wife to create the warm color scheme for the entire addition. The scheme centered on earth tones such as natural creams and browns, at the wife’s request.

Tan’s use of the lyptus wood in the island, desk, banquet and wet bar paired with the soft hue of the cabinets support that mix of color.

The Ivory Gold granite countertops are done in soft tones of cream, gold, light pink and brown. The beveled backsplash made of Jerusalem Gold pillowed subway bricks also supports the color scheme. As the focal point of the room, the backsplash over the cooktop and around the wet bar is made of reclaimed herringbone biblical tile from Jerusalem.