In Haverford, a Traditional Kitchen gets a Contemporary Makeover

Form meets function in this modern space, created by local interior designer Ali Randall.



Photographs by Aino Assmus.

Long before Ali Randall began designing interiors, she earned a degree in psychology. In many ways, creating comfortable homes and nurturing well-adjusted lives are complementary skills, especially when it comes to designing spaces that are conducive to harmonious gatherings. And for many families, the priority is the kitchen.

For Randall, understanding the dynamics of a blended family of seven was essential in designing a large kitchen and dining area where everyone could come together. They were about to move into a 10,000-square-foot home in Haverford. The house was only 10 years old, yet it was immediately apparent the kitchen needed to be replaced. “The home is grand, spacious and beautiful—but the kitchen was barely there,” she recalls.

“Everything Has a Home”

Style wise, the kitchen was outfitted with ornate moldings and mahogany cabinets, not a precise match for this modern family. Their aesthetic vision encompassed fine finishes without intricate detailing for a clean, contemporary vibe. “I wanted the design to match the rest of the house, but also be more up to date,” the owner says.

Randall had a heart-to-heart conversation with the owners. How did they want to feel in their kitchen? “Designing is about getting to know the family you’re designing for,” she says. “You really have to listen, like a good psychologist.”

The couple envisioned a pleasant start to their day, with kids eating breakfast at one island while the parents packed lunches at a second. “The husband is into juicing, so we had to include a place for that,” Randall says. “Plus, they like to entertain. If they were having 10 people over, where could they prepare appetizers?”

A checklist is an essential part of the process, ensuring the design meets the family’s needs for prep space and storage. “This is where you keep your Tupperware; this is where you keep your serving pieces; this is where you keep the silverware,” she says. “It was important to be able to put everything away so it doesn’t look cluttered. Everything has a home.”

Updating Tradition

White cabinets give the owners the contemporary look they desired but are still in keeping with the home’s traditional architecture. “We scaled back to a straight-line cabinet with a bit of detailing that doesn’t look too modern,” she says.

Embellishments are crisp and clean: shoe molding at the bottom of the cabinets, divided-light glass inlays and lighting in the upper cabinets, and furniture-style feet on the sink cabinet. Randall worked with a carpenter on site to make one-of-a-kind elements like the range hood. “It’s square and simple, very much in keeping with the updated look of the kitchen.”

The white quartz countertops are fresh, streamlined and easy for a busy family to keep clean. Gray slate flooring grounds the kitchen, with Randall extending the slate into the foyer and powder room to visually enhance the flow.

Removing a bulky pantry opened up the kitchen and an adjoining dining area, where comfy upholstered chairs circle a round table suitable for meals or homework. “Now, the breakfast area feels like part of the kitchen, which is great for when the family is all together,” says Randall.

Outfitted with a chopping block and two drains, the primary sink is designed for home chefs. A smaller secondary sink serves for prep and bar duty.

In the Mix

Gold-tone faucets and frames on counter stools give the space a fashion-forward feeling. Black metal pendants are stationed over the islands, and backsplashes have the texture of stacked stone—white with subtle gray veining. “There’s a lot of mixing,” Randall says. “We didn’t want it to be matchy-matchy.”

The islands are different, too. One is equipped with the second sink, a microwave and a pair of counter-height stools upholstered in white leather. The other was designed for bar-height seating and accommodates six.

Randall left the commercial-style gas range as is. Mahogany panels were removed from the integrated refrigerator, exposing the stainless steel beneath to give it an updated look. “The appliances are high-end and in very good condition,” says Randell. “Why not reuse them?”

It’s now a kitchen that suits the family in both form and function.

“With the mix of more contemporary counters, hardware and lighting, the whole space now has a perfect balance,” the homeowner says. “It’s the gathering space we all wanted, the true heart of our home.” 

Kitchen Cool: Three delicious trends on the front burner

The new black. It’s one of the hottest finishes for decorative plumbing and hardware. But which shade of black to choose? California Faucets offers a variety of premium black-hued finishes from its recently launched Kitchen Collection. Matte Black is a soft, sophisticated take on a classic. Carbon offers more depth of color, similar to that of a No. 2 pencil. Black Nickel is a space-age finish, blending a metallic gleam with shades of black.

Premium sinks. Hardware Resources’ custom handmade sinks are sleek and practical—and soundproof, too. Fabricated to order from flat, high-quality steel, the sinks are bent and welded into geometric shapes that make the best use of the sinks’ interior working space. The result is professional grade. Each sink is outfitted with a stainless steel grid with non-skid feet that prevents pots and pans from scratching the surface while allowing water to drain underneath. They’re available in under-mount and apron styles.

Origami tiles. Zen takes on a hip vibe with Origami Field, a collection of Lunada Bay glass tiles designed to reflect the time-honored Japanese art of geometric paper folding. The tiles are crafted by hand to capture light, incorporating wrinkles, waves and bubbles. Available in six three-dimensional shapes and nine colors, the Origami Field line is ideal for backsplashes, bar areas and statement walls.