Kitchen Takes Cue from 13th Century Castle
By John Filippelli
The kitchen part of a sprawling 15,000-sq.-ft. mansion actually reflects the style of the 1930s with Old World elements thrown in, according to Salerno. To create the Old World theme, he utilized such touches as a unique farm sink and painted and glazed custom cabinetry to ensure that the design would "flow with the rest of the home as if it were there from the beginning," he remarks.
Of course, the kitchen needed more than just a style update. It had to be dramatically expanded to accommodate the client's cooking and entertaining needs, as well. "This kitchen needed to be at least quadrupled in size without taking away any of the aesthetics from it," Salerno said. Thus, "the back of the kitchen was pushed to the back of the house, which increased the overall size by about 30 ft," to a total of 630 sq. ft.
Since 300 to 400 guests are not uncommon, Salerno also installed a secondary kitchen to be used specifically by caterers during larger engagements. It is situated downstairs from the main kitchen.
The kitchen already came with one unique feature the 12'x16' stained glass panel located in the ceiling. However, according to Salerno, "It previously had been thrown up there with some chains. They never really formally built it in to the space."
To show the glass off to its best advantage, Salerno decided to center it over the stove area, over the island and the window.
"The objective was to use it as a focal point as people are entering from the dining room," he offers.
But, Salerno quickly found that there was a challenge involved with this decision, since there was an existing bedroom above that couldn't be disturbed. He had to figure out how to light the stained glass to make it look like there is light shining through it.
His solution was to create an alcove area on the sides and over it with backlighting placed around it to imitate natural lighting and retain the glass' initial purpose as a skylight.
"We also added a removable plastic cove so the clients can get to the lights when they burn out and replace them easily," he says.
Once Salerno successfully incorporated the stained glass into the kitchen redesign, he turned his attention to the overall style of the kitchen.
Since cooking and entertaining were essential to this household, Salerno realized early on that the best way to create a manageable traffic area would be to incorporate an island.
However, he also wanted the island to help define the overall look of the kitchen. "The intention of the island was to be able to make it [look like] a piece of furniture," he explains. To that end, he notes, "I put two open shelves on both sides of the island that are semi-circled, and the corners have a three-sided fluted column on it.
"The island was primed, and we had an artist paint it to match the table and chairs. Everything is painted in glaze in the perimeter. The island features a grape motif, which is done in a greenish antique finish," he offers. To match the island, the hood was also hand-painted.
"It's done in a grain and off-white color with all of the walls done in a venetian plaster," Salerno describes.
"We also took the colors [of the stained glass] and incorporated them into the island and some of the wall treatments. We made sure that the grains worked with some of the silk flowers that were in the room and with the table," he says.
As for function, "The island has a sink and refrigerator in it that are right across from the cooktop, so that creates two working areas within the kitchen," he notes.
"Since [the entire family cooks], we wanted to make sure they weren't tripping over each other or overlapping in working centers," Salerno says.
"So, obviously an oversized sink was necessary. What we did was take a sink that was made out of marble and had it honed. This creates a big sink clean-up area or large prep area," he says.
A copper sink was also incorporated into the island, Salerno notes, to match the copper faucet. "That was also matched with the cup handles that we have in the island where the two refrigerators are located as well as on the row of drawers there," he offers.
"You can pull the vegetables out of the two refrigerators in the island and start preparing off of that space. By the clean-up area and by the primary sink is the 15" Kitchen-Aid trash compactor and two Miele dishwashers, so once they have filled one, they can start filling the other one. Basically, the island is self-sufficient," he notes.
The clients really wanted to make sure all of their functional and entertaining needs would be met, says Salerno, and "obviously one refrigerator wouldn't do. So, we incorporated two Sub-Zero refrigerators and freezers, plus a secondary work sink.
"The kitchen also has two Thermador ovens, a 48" Thermador commercial cooktop, a GE microwave, a coffee machine and a 24" Sub-Zero wine cooler," he continues.
In the secondary kitchen, Salerno installed "four ovens, two refrigerators, two sinks and a stove."
Less is more
Salerno opted to minimize the use of cabinetry in the kitchen by utilizing the butler's pantry for storage needs.
The idea was that, "The clients can store all of the food goods in the butler's pantry which also matches the painted and glazed, cream-colored custom cabinetry instead of putting tall cabinets in the middle of the room," Salerno explains.
To that end, each kitchen cabinet was "piggy backed," with one cabinet installed over another due to the height of the ceilings.
But, perhaps, the most important function of the cabinets, Salerno points out, is to house the clients' collectibles. "[The lady of the house] has a vase collection, and we installed glass shelves on the upper cabinets so that she could display her vases both in and on top of the cabinets. That way, she could rotate her display [as she got new vases]," he notes. Halogen lighting installed in the cabinetry helps to further showcase the collectibles.
"I used uplighting on top of the cabinets to light up the vases and give the ceiling a glow in the evening, so there is a lot of warmth. You can turn the lights off in the room and use the ceiling and perimeter lighting to give it enough ambience," he adds.
"I also did two pedestals which are about 12" high and made for tall vases," Salerno adds.
Complementing the design, as well, is the use of marble countertops and the aforementioned copper faucetry, Salerno further states.
"The client didn't want a shiny countertop, so Noche marble was selected with a dull, honed finish on it," he offers. "It worked beautifully with the floor, as well as with the cabinets and the backsplash."
"The faucets are all done in a fresh copper finish that complements the Noche marble. Instead of doing a shiny or brushed nickel finish, this certainly matches the character and antique look of the room," he points out.
Additionally, Salerno stained the oak wood floors in light walnut to give the room warmth and contrast with the cabinets.
The kitchen also includes several other unique touches, such as a desk area with a cubicle space for the clients' two dogs. "I did a semi-circle opening, and the dogs have their own little space which is actually attached to the desk," he concludes.