Bryn Mawr Empty Nesters Create Expansive Cooking Space
Bryn Mawr homeowners to show off elegant kitchen in Notable kitchen Tour & Chef Showcase on Nov. 6.
Bryn Mawr Home
One of the best places to find great design ideas is in other people’s homes. But you can’t just march right in and take a peek—unless, of course, you’re part of the sixth annual Notable Kitchen Tour & Chef Showcase. On Nov. 6, guests will get a close look at six inspiring food-prep and dining areas, all on the Main Line.
Among those featured is an elegant kitchen in Bryn Mawr that combines a variety of materials, textures and finishes to create a large, open space that’s homey yet sophisticated. Think granite counter- tops and stainless steel.
“I’ve always been interested in art and design,” says the owner, who applied the principles of organization she learned in corporate life when planning her kitchen.
She and her husband raised their three kids in a traditional four-bedroom house. The children grew up, but the nest was seldom empty. Colleagues and business associates came to parties; the couple opened its home in support of various community groups; and offspring came back to visit with significant others, spouses, in-laws and their own kids.
That in mind, the empty nesters built their current home seven years ago. “We actually wound up upsizing after our children left home,” the owner says.
Starting from scratch provided an exciting opportunity to create a kitchen they could position to maximize natural light. A large niche was built to accommodate a cupboard that stood in the foyer of their former home. A spectacular Murano glass chandelier, discovered during a trip to Venice, hangs over the dining table.
The kitchen is outfitted with two large islands to accommodate multiple cooks. One workspace contains a bar sink and wine storage; the other has built-in shelves for cookbooks. The owner chose three distinct and complementary finishes for the cabinetry: rustic maple, rubbed black paint over natural cherrywood, and a butter-yellow shade. “There are no cabinets underneath, only drawers, which are much more efficient,” she says.
In addition to the large, oval table in the dining area, the couple frequently enjoys meals poolside on a patio accessed through French doors. There’s also seating at the island— although that’s a bit too casual for the owner’s taste.
The owner has been collecting dishes since 1972, when a neighbor gave her a small blue-and-white plate in the iconic Blue Willow pattern introduced by the Spode factory in England during the 1790s. That sparked an enduring interest in transferware, china created via an 18th-century technique that transfers patterns onto the surface of tableware and decorative pieces. She also collects pumpkins in glass, ceramic and other materials; colorful pottery made in Deruta, Italy; and vintage pieces from throughout Europe.
The owner didn’t want to keep her collection hidden behind cupboard doors, so she worked with a cabinetmaker to design a butler’s pantry that would offer both storage and display space. The result is lighted and glass-fronted, with floor-to-ceiling shelving. Stacking the dinner plates would’ve obscured their patterns and details, so dishes are displayed on built-in racks. Multi-tiered glass cake plates shimmer on the top shelf.
And on the cupboard doors, glass knobs bring additional sparkle. “It’s a contemporary knob,” the owner points out. “But on these cabinets, it takes on an 18th-century look.”
The value of research
A serious cook, the owner selected a blend of appliance brands based on individual performance. The kitchen has a Thermador gas cooktop with six burners and a griddle, a Dacor warming drawer, and a Viking refrigerator—“I love that it dispenses crushed ice,” she says.
A pair of Jenn-Air wall ovens are installed horizontally at waist height, rather than in a traditional vertical stack. “I don’t have to reach up for one oven and down for the other,” the owner notes. “They are both the perfect height.”
Specialty appliances that augment the major players are tucked away in an island. There are two refrigerator drawers—one for yogurt, juice and various breakfast foods, and the other for beverages. In addition to a full-size dishwasher, there are two dishwasher drawers. A microwave oven is hidden behind pantry doors.
Creamy Italian porcelain tile flooring provides the look and ambiance of limestone, only without the stains and chips often associated with natural stone. Again, the homeowner’s research led to just the right product.
“Porcelain tile is much more durable than ceramic tile,” she says. “And if it chips, you can’t see it because the color goes all the way through the tile.”