It's tough enough to remodel a kitchen built in the 20th century, but try working on one that's gone through three centuries of updating. That was the challenge put to HomeTech Renovations Inc. of Lansdale, Pa.
Originally a three-story log cabin built in 1722, the Del Viscio's center hall colonial in nearby Villanova had seen a number of renovations through the centuries, including a plaster-covered stone addition in 1812. But in 2004, the structure's 1950s-era kitchen — part of that 1812 addition — needed attention.
The owner had recently installed stainless steel appliances and a laminate rustic oak floor to complement the high-end, retro metal cabinets. When she contacted HomeTech, she thought a new countertop and backsplash would complete the remodel. The problem was that the remodel did little to reflect the home's heritage.
"My first impression was that my client needed some straightforward help in deciding priorities and the overall direction of the project," says David Cerami, CKBR, president of HomeTech Renovations. His company specializes in kitchen and bath remodeling, including refacing, remove-and-replace jobs, and complete remodels.
Using design software to explore different elevations, lighting and looks, Cerami worked with the owners to develop a plan for a renovation that would complement the rest of the house, but still make use of the new appliances and floor.
"The client allowed me to create my total vision for the project," says Cerami. "It was a pleasure to have a client completely rely and trust my ability."
Initially, the owners had hoped to better coordinate the metal cabinets with the floor by refacing them with wood doors. Cerami explained that because of the thinness of the metal, this approach would be costly and impractical.
Instead, HomeTech installed a line of handcrafted cabinetry reminiscent of the early 1800s. The exteriors were finished in white, while the interiors, walls, and a display nook above the refrigerator were painted buttermilk green, a color that reflects the period. Wooden pullouts allow easy accessibility to pots and pans.
During demo, HomeTech discovered that a plaster-covered stone column, which sat next to the range, was an original stone column that supported an upstairs bedroom.
"The most significant challenge was working around the column and anticipating cabinet sizes and methods of finishing the column once it was exposed," says Cerami.
The top portion of the support column remains exposed; the countertop fits around it; and a lower cabinet encloses the column's base. To take advantage of all available space, HomeTech placed a spice rack at the front of the cabinet containing the column.
Moving the refrigerator to an adjacent wall created a better work triangle with the range and sink. This allowed HomeTech to put a hand-built hutch where the refrigerator had been.
The new cabinets created a new footprint, so HomeTech installed some new pieces of flooring to cover the scars left behind. New undercabinet lighting, using halogen bulbs, emits a pure white light to further illuminate the area.
To carry through the 19th-century look, Cerami suggested replacing the stainless steel countertops that prompted this project with wood and stone. Along the walls, HomeTech installed 1½-inch-thick cherry countertops finished with urethane oil. The island now has a countertop of Brazilian soapstone.
The project won a 2004 CotY Award for Residential Kitchen $30,000–$60,000 from the Bucks-Mont NARI chapter. According to Cerami, that's at the high end of what HomeTech Renovations usually does.
"I'd like to acquire more projects like this one," he says. "The process was very fluid, interesting and fun for all."