It’s hard to explain the feeling you get as you turn off the main road, and start winding down the narrow, tree-lined, Chester County back road until you reach the clearing that is part of this amazing historic property. It feels miles away from civilization and is so peaceful with the sound of the stream running through it, that one can’t help but feel a certain sense of calm and serenity. Originally the property was a mill that fed water to Pierre Dupont’s Longwood Gardens. The mill is no longer standing, but the main house, built in 1729, was where the mill owner lived. There is also a charming stone cottage as you come in, which housed the manager of the mill. You have to cross the foot bridge in order to reach the main house.
When asked to help with choosing the finishes for a kitchen remodel, I was thrilled to be able to work on part of such an old, historic home. The owners have maintained the property beautifully, and have kept the interior of the main part of the house as original as possible, furnishing it with antiques and old pieces, and keeping the look somewhat sparse. In the kitchen, the same look and feel was to be maintained, but the homeowners also desired the practicality of a kitchen from the current century.
The major design choices in this project involved the countertops in addition to the cabinets and flooring. Knowing that the floors would be a natural white oak, we fairly quickly decided on a light color for the cabinets, choosing a cream paint with a glazed finish. This would help brighten up the space. Instead of using new cabinetry or building a closet, a large antique cabinet was to be used as a pantry. A challenge presented itself in the decision making for the countertops because the clients had wanted soapstone, but because soapstone can stain and requires maintenance, we found a great alternative: a virtually identical, honed, gray granite. This provided a hard surface, resistant to chipping and stains, while giving the desired “old house” look of the soapstone.
The homeowners had a local woodworker make the seven foot long island out of walnut. He did a beautiful job with the top, leaving the live edge detail to further tone down the look and feel of the kitchen.
The natural-green wall color was chosen to compliment the wood flooring and island because it contrasts well with their warm hues. It also connects the room to the outdoors where the property is surrounded by large trees. For the appliances, the new slate finish from GE was chosen because of its resistance to fingerprints and smudges, and its impressive visual presence. It also blends well with the countertops.
In the backsplash area, the clients expressed a desire to have visible wall space above the countertop. They found a piece of ironwork from the backing of a fireplace, painted it black, and installed it behind the cooktop. The rest of it was cut in strips to become a 4” backsplash. This became one of the focal points of the room, as it is not your typical backsplash, but it has a great textured look and solid feel to it.
In order to give the space enough efficient lighting, we made the decision to install recessed lighting throughout, but to also include fixtures similar in style to those of the early eighteenth century. Since they are more noticeable, they help to echo the desired effect.
Finally, what makes the room feel so welcoming and cozy are the old pieces handed down from their families. Rare Wyeth prints, a butter churn and other items help give the space it’s own personality and adds interesting texture. I would have to say that the final result of this kitchen remodel is as much of a balm on the soul as the outside of the home is, and that is what makes this project one that I am proud to share.
Photography by Kingdomworks Media
Cabinets by Lenape Village Kitchen and Bath
Island by Kinloch Woodworking