Hamptons Reno: Beach Kitchen#2

photo 2

DEMOLITION has begun — and it ended, four hours later — at my East Hampton beach house, above. That’s how long it took to disappear two closets and a storage area in a corner of what’s eventually to become a ‘winter studio,’ and in summer, a great room with an open kitchen. Those four hours revealed a skylight and a large southwest-facing window, long blocked by the warren of unneeded storage spaces.

Below, top: ‘Before’ view showing a corner of the great room occupied by a group of closets. Below, bottom: ‘Now’ view showing that area of the rooms sans closets.



I love demolition. Tearing down walls is about the cheapest, most cathartic thing you can do in a home renovation, and it always makes a space lighter and airier. Sometimes you have to build walls, too, but removing them is the fun part.

I’ll be moving the kitchen into that newly opened-up corner. Yes, the kitchen I built just a year-and-a-half ago, below, has proved to be temporary; it served well for two seasons. But I’ve come to realize that if the great-room end of the long, narrow house is ever to be utilized — if people are ever to be induced to go down there — there needs to be FOOD. That’s really the only thing that gets people into a little-used part of a house, more so even than TV. Also, when I insulate that part of the house for my own use in the off-season, I’ll be needing a place to cook.


My plan is to simply move the appliances and the sink and possibly even some of the cabinets into the new area (the old kitchen area will become a small bedroom/study). I love the old kitchen, and it functions very well, so I intend to more or less replicate it in the new spot.

Meanwhile, I’m having fun on Pinterest, coming up with some of the photos below. They all have beamed ceilings, and most have a window in the center of the appliance wall. Their simplicity inspires me. And of course, a whitewash changes everything.

Via countryday.wordpress.com 

Screen shot 2010-07-17 at 4.52.52 PM
Via poppytalk

Via a paper aeroplane

Next up: new windows!

The Insider: Kitchen Extension in Brooklyn Heights

MY COLUMN TODAY on Brownstoner.com is all about a new two-story extension on the back of a c.1820 Dutch Revival row house in Brooklyn Heights.

Robinson + Grisaru Architecture, a local husband-and-wife team, conceived the design using a steel window system, and shepherded it through Landmarks.

For the whole story, go here.

The Insider: Shipshape Kitchen in Brooklyn Heights


THE LATEST IN MY WEEKLY INTERIORS SERIES for Brownstoner.com is this warmly appealing, functional kitchen by North Fork, L.I.-based designer Kate Altman. Not long ago, it was an “impossibly bad” ’70s galley kitchen. Now it has floor-to-ceiling storage and two showstopping features: a lipstick-red Italian range, and a custom porcelain backsplash inspired by antique Chinese patterns but whimsically including the Brooklyn Bridge.

To see lots more pictures and read all about it (and catch up with previous installations of “The Insider,”) click yourself right on over here. And don’t be shy about commenting on the Brownstoner site. It’s really fun for me to see the comments roll in there (37 last week!)

Max and Lexy’s Kitchen


MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENT to report down in Philadelphia: my son Max and his girlfriend Alexis, who bought an 1870s house in Fishtown in June of last year, now have a beautiful, functioning kitchen.


They’ve been working on it all spring and summer. (Go here to see how the room looked in May.) First, they tore out what was there before, reducing the 120-square-foot room to studs. Then, working mostly on the weekends and almost entirely by themselves, they created a kitchen a mother would envy, with abundant storage space and a slew of bells and whistles.


Max, who is a woodworker, rented shop space and used it to build custom  cabinets with those swanky smooth-gliding drawers. The cabinet boxes are birch ply, with solid maple doors and drawer fronts.

Below, century-old brass cabinet handles from architectural salvage emporium Provenance.


Then, both Max and Lexy primed, brush-painted, sanded, and painted the cabinets again (and again, and possibly again — I lost count). They painted the walls, too — Benjamin Moore’s soft Palladian Blue — and installed and painted the tin ceiling.

IMG_1213Left, beyond the stainless fridge with the ice/water thingie in the door and the 8″-wide pull-out pantry that nicely fills otherwise unusable space, you can glimpse dangling BX cable and open ceiling beams for a sense of what remains to be done in the apartment.

Coming next: a subway-tile backsplash above the butcher block counters, below.


Since I haven’t had to personally live through it, this kitchen seems to have come together reasonably fast, though I gather it’s been eons in young-person time. Onward, soon, to the bathroom and the rest of the apartment, much of which still resembles a construction site. But first, I hope they’ll give themselves the luxury of a few weekends off to savor their progress.

Before & After: Prospect Lefferts Kitchen


JANE ROSENBAUM, a Boerum Hill-based interior designer, sent me these before-and-after shots of a kitchen she masterminded in a Prospect Lefferts Gardens limestone. She described the ‘before,’ below, as “icky ’70s.” I couldn’t have put it better myself.

1 - prereno 15

1 - prereno 19

The ‘after’ is clean and timeless, the kind of kitchen that will look fresh for many years, with an attractive arch-shaped pass-through into the coffered dining room and a slew of storage. I’ll let Jane, whose business is called Jane Interiors NYC, tell you what she did and how she did it:

“My overriding desire for this kitchen was that it look fresh and young, like my clients, as well as like it belonged in the house.

There is a direct view of the kitchen from the front door, so one goal was to expand the view to the backyard. I just love when you come in a front door and can see out to the back. I also wanted to let more light into the kitchen and the dining room. Raising the height of the door and window, below, and making the door wider and the window taller accomplished this. In the pre-renovation kitchen, the refrigerator was blocking the window. Moving the refrigerator to the opposite end of the kitchen made all this possible.


My clients wanted a kitchen that would allow the cook to visit with guests, without their having to be in the kitchen. Cutting the arch into the dining room, below, which mirrors the shape of the arch at the other end of the kitchen, also made both rooms brighter.


They also wanted white kitchen cabinets and a look that was harmonious with the period of the house. At the time this house was built [around the turn of the 20th century], kitchens had separate freestanding pieces, like Hoosier cabinets, china cabinets, and wall-hung sinks. I wanted this kitchen to look more like  furniture than appliances and cabinets. I used as little hardware as possible, designed custom wood cabinets in a tall, narrow shape, and used integrated appliances and stove hood. I also used a half-inch as opposed to the standard 3/4-inch countertop. I believe this is very important to keeping the room streamlined and makes it work with the dimensions of the detail on the front of the cabinets.


I chose an Italian cooktop, above, oven, and dishwasher because they were more delicate in appearance and did not have the bulky handles of American appliances. I also wanted the view from the dining room to be of beautiful, period-like case goods as opposed to kitchen cabinets. My clients are tall, so the countertops are a few inches higher than standard.

The front parlor, which opens to the entry hall, dining room, and living room with fireplace, has a light blue and brown color scheme, and the original tile in the bathroom is white with a blue border. I used these colors for inspiration in the kitchen and dining room. The large-scale subway tile and glass tile detail are white and blue. The cabinets and woodwork are white with gray/blue undertones, noticeable only in paint made with natural pigments. The walls in both rooms are two shades of pale blue, and the dining room ceiling coffers and insides of the built-in china cabinets are yellow.

The kitchen floor tile is gray-brown. Large plank-shaped tiles, rather than square ones, make the flooring look dressier and less kitchen-like. The plank shape also allowed me to run the tile horizontally, as opposed to vertically, to give the illusion of more width in the kitchen.


I used every square inch of the limited space by taking the cabinets to ceiling height, moving the sink to the other side of the room in a row of cabinets, and building cabinets over the arch, above. Drawers that pull out from the kick plate beneath the cabinets hold baking sheets and a step stool.”

To see more pictures of Jane’s work, go here, or call her at 347/495-7580 for a consult.