This Villanova Kitchen Won First Place at an International Design Competition

Thanks to the work of designer David Stimmel, the space earned top honors at the Designer Kitchen and Bath Awards.



Photos by Charles Mechan.

This past November, Bryn Mawr’s David Stimmel traveled to London for the KB Network’s annual Designer Kitchen and Bath Awards. For Stimmel, it was quite the honor to have the Villanova kitchen he designed picked as a finalist from among thousands of entries worldwide. “I honestly didn’t expect to win,” he says.

To his pleasant surprise, Stimmel left the awards ceremony with first-place bragging rights, making him the first two-time American winner. He also won in 2015.

“My work is completely custom,” says Stimmel, who currently has clients in Nova Scotia, Alabama, Florida and Massachusetts. “You can look at the images and not like it, but the idea with our work is that it’s all really well thought out and unique. We never do the same look twice.”

The Setting

Stimmel’s latest award-winning kitchen can be found in a sprawling Tudor-style home designed by famed Main Line architect Fred Bissinger. On the estate, a large pond is used year-round. In summer, the owners kayak, boat and swim. In winter, it’s ice-skating. “They have this amazing house where they love to invite family and friends—but they didn’t have an amazing kitchen to go with it,” says Stimmel. “They really wanted a big open space to entertain.”

Credit the owners for coming up with the idea to move the kitchen from its original cramped space to the family room area, which has lots of dramatic architectural details. Not least among them: a wall of double-height bay windows looking out to the pool area, a soaring vaulted ceiling with a set of original buttresses, and a fireplace.

Once the walls were removed, Stimmel had a cavernous space. “Warmth and intimacy was necessary for a space so big and vast,” he says.A majority of Bissinger’s local homes have a classic architectural presence, and Stimmel wanted the new kitchen to honor that style. “It’s definitely in keeping with the grand old Tudor mansion,” he says.

Stimmel covered the vaulted ceiling with aged wood from a barn he dismantled in Bucks County, while the massive island has a thick marble top and a traditional farmhouse sink. Stimmel also took great care to ensure that the space didn’t have an “appliance store feel.” Panels over the Sub-Zero refrigerator and accompanying freezer downplay their imposing size. The BlueStar range is steely blue, with a custom limestone Francois & Co. hood set above.

Easy As Pie

The owners asked Stimmel if he could convert the room’s fireplace into a wood-burning pizza oven. “We just had to make sure it worked within the codes—which it does,” he says.

Adding to that Old World aesthetic, Stimmel used a concrete boulder for the top and added a copper-lined firewood bin below. “Some people would have this in their kitchen and never use it,” says Stimmel. “I was thrilled to learn that the owner uses it all the time.”

Elsewhere in the kitchen, a hexagon-shaped table with seating for six sits in front of the aforementioned bay windows. The island has seating for four, but its ample size allows for triple that amount to gather around it.

Just off the new kitchen space, a multipurpose bar area/coffee station has taken the place of the original kitchen. It’s constructed of rich American walnut, with concealed paneled doors. There’s also a refrigerator and a flat-screen TV. “It’s just more space for them to hangout and entertain,” Stimmel says.

The award-winning designer also had a say in the nearby open sunroom, incorporating a coffered walnut ceiling. A large sectional couch provides an option for kitchen overflow. “This is now a true entertaining spot—one that’s actually used,” says Stimmel. “That’s what makes it an award-winning design.”

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