OLD SAYBROOK, CT —
The owners of a circa-1750 home, located here, knew they had a ton of work ahead of them if they wanted to completely transform it and infuse it with 21st-century sensibilities and style. So much so, that, after attempting renovating it on their own, the owners finally sought the help of professionals.
Enter architects Sabrina Foulke and Greg Nucci, AIA, of Point One Architects, also based here. The owners turned to Foulke and Nucci for help and brought with them Jerry Mals, an independent cabinetmaker based in Berlin, CT. The owners sat down with Mals, Foulke and Nucci and told them that while the post-and-beam home had historic roots, they did not want to restore it back to the way it was in 1750. Instead, according to Foulke, they wanted to go contemporary on the interior.
"They were not interested in staying true to the style of 1750.
In fact, they wanted nothing that was antique," she recalls.
With that mandate in mind, Foulke and Nucci devised a more open, more modern, completely revamped layout for the kitchen, as well as for the entire home. The plan called for starting from scratch.
"We gutted the entire home, then completely restructured and rebuilt it. The kitchen was a just a small piece of this whole-house renovation," says Foulke. "We gave the entire house a more modern, open-plan design, with the kitchen being the only space that was truly its own room on that level."
Simultaneously, Mals worked on creating the custom cabinetry that would help warm the contemporary style of the kitchen and the rest of the home.
OPENING DESIGN DOORS
The choice of door style is what truly dictated the warm, contemporary style the kitchen in this home received.
"We went with a full-overlay slab door, which is fairly modern in feel. But the wood species we chose really warmed the space up. It was Makore Fiddleback, which is a type of mahogany," explains Foulke.
The warmth was continued onto the floor where Santos mahogany was applied. "It's a little darker and redder than the cabinetry," she points out.
To further maintain the warmth of the wood throughout the kitchen, Foulke, Nucci and Mals used all natural finishes. Häfele pulls were also applied to all of the cabinets.
Other natural wood touches that warm the contemporary feel of the kitchen include framed arches in natural mahogany, according to Foulke.
After the door style and wood species were selected, "we then set about locating the different elements in the kitchen," Foulke indicates.
One of the assets of this house is its spectacular water views, notes Foulke. "We are over water, so we decided to take advantage of that. We positioned the kitchen's only sink to [be located under a window that overlooks] the water. We installed a bay window and centered the Rohl fireclay, single-bowl, undermount sink and the Rohl satin nickel, single-lever faucet underneath," she elaborates.
"There was another window, as well. It was sort of an odd placement, next to the Zephyr Milano hood, but the view from there was worth it," she continues.
To further take advantage of the water views, Foulke and Nucci opted for much less wall cabinetry. Instead, they located much of the storage elsewhere, in places such as the pull-out pantry and the island – which is all storage, in fact.
The island is also made of the same Makore Fiddleback wood as the rest of the kitchen’s custom cabinetry. But here it’s accented by white painted columns that "tie back to the home’s post-and-beam construction," Foulke points out.
She and Nucci extended the Verde Vecchio granite that tops the island on two sides in order to create space to eat. They used the same granite for the rest of the kitchen countertops.
"The green countertops and warm, honey amber of the cabinets really play well against the water views. It gives the kitchen a natural feel, in addition to being contemporary," relates Foulke.
Next, so as not to clutter the kitchen, Foulke and Nucci moved the microwave into a nearby walk-in pantry they created to house the recycling center and the feeding area for the dog. "The microwave was something that was never used much in this household," Foulke remembers.
However, no other function was deemed secondary by the owners, so the duo incorporated the aforementioned hood, a 36" Miele cooktop, a Miele double oven, a Thermador warming drawer, a 42" Sub-Zero side-by-side refrigerator/freezer, several Sub-Zero refrigerator drawers and Fisher & Paykel double dishdrawers – plus, a flat-screen TV installed underneath one of the cabinets that flips up when not in use.
Lighting also played a key role in Foulke and Nucci’s kitchen design. "[In fact], because there was so much wood used, we cranked up the lighting," says Foulke.
To start, she and Nucci installed standard recessed can lights, but amped up the warmth by inserting special glass lenses they obtained from W.A.C. Lighting. The lenses gave the kitchen a subtle glow. The duo also installed amber-colored pendants over the island.
To further brighten the kitchen, Foulke and Nucci kept the wall color and backsplash light. A creamy beige color adorns the walls while marble tile in the same hue makes up the backsplash. The tiles' curved corners add texture, as well.
The lighter wall color and backsplash plus the lighting design give the kitchen a "soft, beautiful" feeling, remarks Foulke.
The kitchen design Foulke and Nucci devised meshes well with the rest of the home's style. In fact, with three separate access points, the kitchen appears to anchor the main level.
Foulke explains: "The owners come in through a mudroom with porcelain floor tile that's similar to the kitchen backsplash and walls painted in a sun color that blends with the kitchen. The second access point leads into the dining area and large living area, which, in turn, tie into a sunroom and foyer. The third access point leads down a hallway that has the walk-in pantry, a powder room and a storage closet."
There was also a huge central fireplace measuring 12'x12' that was removed and replaced with a series of spaces that included a video control room and a special coffee room that features a Miele cappuccino/espresso maker and warming drawer specifically designed for espresso cups, and a Marvel icemaker that produces clear ice.
In all of these areas, the same warm, contemporary feel of the kitchen is replicated through the use of white wainscoting and detailed trimwork.
A more traditional feeling inhabits the master bath, however. "We used white, glazed, raised-panel custom cabinetry, terracotta and green tiles, and Damascus red granite on the countertops and shower curb," concludes Foulke.