Text By: Nancy E. Berry
The homeowners of a 200-year-old Cape house in Vermont wanted to renovate their dark, inefficient kitchen. They desired an open airy kitchen floor plan filled with lots of natural light—a new space that would flow into a family room and dining area—and a traditional look to honor the age of the original structure.
Making it Modern
“The house needed a functional kitchen with more storage and a dining area that didn’t feel like a dark cave,” says architect Sandra Vitzthum of Montpelier, Vermont. So she set about planning the new design within the existing footprint of the mid-century additions. “It was like putting a jigsaw puzzle together,” says Vitzthum in regard to reconfiguring spaces that would work for 21-century living. Vitzthum relocated the new kitchen to where a dining room used to be in the center of the house. The original space had 7’6” ceilings and no windows, making the room dark and gloomy and not a place the homeowners wanted to entertain. Although the owners were hesitant at first, Vitzthum explained that this was a central location, and she wanted to bring the kitchen back to the heart of the home.
Opening It Up
To open the spaces up to one another, and to the light, Vitzthum took down walls separating the old dining space with the later additions. “You can stand at any point in the new plan and look through to the other spaces and even outdoors,” says Vitzthum. The low ceilings were removed to expose beams and offer a lofty atmosphere. The airy structure is articulated with posts and beams that provide visual transitions between the different spaces.
The owners love to entertain, so the kitchen had to be not only functional, but also comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. Vitzthum created ample workspace by incorporating a center island as well as two additional serving peninsulas between the dining room and family room. The counters also act as dividers between the spaces. An old powder room was converted into a dish pantry with open shelving for additional storage space. And to further the transparent feel in the kitchen, the kitchen shelving has two-sided glass cabinets that look through to the new pantry.
Appliances & Storage That Shine
The north wall of the kitchen houses a Sub-Zero fridge behind a custom panel door and two wall ovens. The stove is located in the island; under-counter island drawers hold pots and pans for easy access. The cabinets are traditionally inspired. Vitzthum often designs cupboards with open shelving reminiscent of freestanding furniture into her designs. “These tricks can really give a kitchen an older feel,” she says. The renovation revealed the Cape’s original post-and-beam frame, which Vitzthum kept exposed for an added sense of age.
Let There Be Light
Not only were walls taken down and windows added, but skylights also were introduced to the pantry to offer more natural light. To further brighten the space, the color palette was kept light and ethereal. The floors, a unifying element throughout the new space, are blond maple; countertops are pale green granite; and upper cabinets are painted white, while the lower cabinets are white with a touch of greenish blue. The ceiling is also painted a creamy white with a touch of pink. “Pink helps create peace and harmony within the space,” notes Vitzthum. The walls throughout the kitchen, pantry, and family room are also painted white, completing the ethereal look.