This Villanova Kitchen Seamlessly Blends the Past and Present

A patio addition allowed the homeowner to build a dream kitchen with more square footage and natural light.



All Photos By John Welsh

The moment Julie Laine walked into the charming circa-1900 home in Villanova, she knew she wanted to make it hers. Laine purchased the house in 2015 and spent a year living there, seeing how it functioned and where it lacked. “I spent a lot of time thinking,” she recalls. “My mother—who’s also very into home design—would walk around with me and help me to visualize.”

Among the areas lacking was the cramped, dark, dated kitchen. Laine imagined a bright space with a large island, plenty of storage and a separate mudroom. Taking down the wall between the kitchen and dining room would create more square footage and natural light. Not wanting to forgo a formal dining room, Laine opted for an addition onto what was then her patio.

Pops of Color

With a detailed wish list in hand, Laine turned to the team at Pine Street Carpenters in West Chester. “Julie was very engaged and had done a lot of research,” says designer Dana Bender.

To create a timeless feeling, Laine opted for a white kitchen with painted Shaker-style inset cabinets. “I did it all in white so I could add pops of color over the years as styles and my taste evolve,” she says.

These days, she’s partial to blue, which can be found in an upholstered banquette for informal dining and a window seat tucked between cabinetry and a built-in hutch. “Running the cabinets all the way across would have meant replacing the window,” Laine says. “The window seat was a happy solution—pretty and practical and in keeping with the house.”

The kitchen table previously looked onto the driveway, but the new space offers three options for dining: the banquette, a nine-foot island and a formal dining room with a vaulted ceiling, French doors and a bank of windows overlooking the garden. An expansive cased opening enhances flow between the spaces. “I didn’t want a dining room that would only be used for holidays,” she says.

Bender suggested a cozy seating area in front of the fireplace as a transition between the kitchen and formal dining room. With a pair of comfy blue tweed chairs, it’s now a favorite spot for Laine and her daughter to hang out.

Everything in Its Place

In keeping with the white theme, subway tiles with an undulating finish are laid all the way to the ceiling for a clean, continuous look. Carrera marble countertops are sealed regularly to minimize stains. “I know quartz is more practical, but to me it looks engineered,” Laine says. “I love the marble, and it’s OK that it shows signs of wear. You look at the floors in post offices and churches, and the marble still looks beautiful.”

The cabinetry’s polished nickel hardware plays off the commercial-style stainless steel appliances, including a
six-burner Wolf range with a griddle and a Sub-Zero refrigerator. Large carriage-house lights are suspended over the island, which houses a microwave and wine refrigerator. Because respecting the architectural integrity of the home is a priority, the updated space is floored in the same wide-plank hardwood as the rest of the house.

To honor the owner’s wish for copious storage, there’s a built-in pantry cupboard. With glass-fronted doors, the built-in hutch has the look of fine furniture, complete with drawers beneath and a banquette. Specialized cabinetry in the mudroom includes a cubby for the family cat’s litter box.

The renovation also provided an opportunity to improve the home’s infrastructure by updating the HVAC system and installing high-efficiency windows in the dining room, kitchen and mudroom. As a bonus, Laine has additional storage options in a new basement space under the dining room addition.

The finished product is an ideal balance of past, present and future. “Because it’s old, it has charm,” says Laine. “But because it’s been updated, it feels clean and fresh.”

An ideal balance, indeed.