Jen and Kyle Perry moved into their 1896 Saratoga Springs Victorian on its 110th birthday.
Seven years and two children later, they knew the kitchen had to go. Literally.
“It was a nice kitchen, but there was no space,” Jen said. “There was a butler’s pantry, which was cool, but we don’t have a butler.
“Our peninsula became our eating area, but it could only seat two people. So every meal, the kids would sit and my husband and I would stand next to them.”
The Perrys had been thinking about what they wanted their kitchen to be for years. What they wanted seemed impossible given the design of the home: a spacious work island, a comfortable kitchen dining area, a mudroom. They wanted light and air and sparkle in what was essentially a cramped, dark alley, boxed in by supporting walls. They wanted a pure, clean contemporary feel, but they wanted to respect the historic bones of the house and make sure the kitchen wasn’t jarringly disconnected from the rest of the home.
And Jen wanted white marble. Lots of it.
“I like white, and I like the movement of marble,” Jen said, undulated her hand gracefully. “Granite can be more speckled. But everyone suggested that marble was not the best idea because of the upkeep and the kids.”
Luckily, the Perrys had already done some renovations on their home – turning the attic into a guest apartment, transforming the basement into a gym and craft room – and they had come to trust their builder – Teakwood – to perform the impossible. Jen said when the basement was finished she was almost sad to see the Teakwood carpenters go. They’d become “like family, and the kids really loved having them in the house.”
“I don’t even remember if we were friends before the first job,” Perry said. “Teakwood to us was just one of those high-end contracting companies that were known for doing really good work.”
From start to finish, the kitchen project took a year, partly because the redesign required a floor-to-ceiling gutting and partly because of the exhaustive search for materials that would meet Jen’s approval. For the all-important countertops, Teakwood suggested super white quartzite slab, which has the feel and look of marble without the tendency to etch and crack. Jen was dead set on marble and made numerous family research roadtrips around the Northeast to seek professional opinions and look at rocks.
“I was probably Teakwood’s most particular customer ever as far as the materials went,” Jen laughed. “In the end, we went with the first thing they suggested, because they were right.”
Teakwood designer Eva Andersen got the Perrys to focus on light fixtures and hardware for the millwork cabinetry, which was custom-built to match the beautiful woodwork original to the home. Jen said she didn’t really see those “furnishings” to be as important as her major purchases, such as the counters and the hand-crafted, hand-sanded Quality Custom Cabinetry.
After an exhaustive search, Jen and Eva agreed on a contemporary Italian pendant light from Artemide Logico to hang over the island, to offer diffused incandescence through satined, handblown glass. The three linear folds would subtly mimic the swirls Jen had come to love in the quartzite slab and would make a playful contrast to the traditional tile mosaic backsplash behind the 36-inch Wolf dual-fuel range.
Aside from the massive quartzite and walnut island – which would house a Thermador Professional Series electric single-wall speed convection oven, a microwave and large storage drawers – the showpiece of the room would be a spacious banquette with five angled sections built to perfectly fit the odd dimensions of a bay window nook. Perry called it “like putting a square hole in a round peg.”
Eva found a gem-like Foscarini suspension lamp to project light up and down over a round, white Saarinen designer table at the center of the banquette. At eye level, the chandelier diffuses the light through little transparent globes made of a polymer called polymethylmetacrylate.
Finally, all the materials were chosen, and it was time to begin construction. The family moved out of the house for the four months of construction, staying at the nearby home of the children’s grandparents, who spend the winters in warmer climes.
“We gave them our wishlist, and they just found a way to make it all happen,” Jen said. “They ripped out a supporting wall, and they had to get an 800 pound beam in here to hold the house up.
“One day I came to check on things, and it was just installed. I have no idea how they even got it in here.”
Teakwood owner Jim Sasko had suggested not only encasing the steel beam in millwork, but extending the woodwork into a coffered ceiling, making it look as if it had always been meant to be there. The ceiling behind the coffer framework was painted smoke ember gray, subtly softening Perry’s all-white approach without taking away from the purity of the QCCI cabinets and counters.
Sasko loves to make every inch of cabinetry work for the homeowners, so the wood neatly conceals a knife drawer built to fit the family’s collection, a bread drawer, plate organizers, a pullout waste bin, a sub-zero side-by-side refrigerator, a food pantry next to the refrigerator, an appliance garage and even file drawers.
“Eva said lighting and hardware is the jewelry of the room” Jen recalled. “And I didn’t really understand that at first. But once it was up, I could see how it really made the room sparkle and shine.”
Once the kitchen was finished, work began immediately on extending the back of the house to add a sunny mudroom, with custom furniture to store coats and shoes without clutter.
So when the Perrys moved back in, was it worth all the time and planning?
“I would just sit here and stare at this kitchen and think how lucky I am to have something so beautiful,” Perry said.
In January 2016, when Kyle’s parents fly south for the winter, the Perrys plan to have Teakwood redo the bedrooms and bathrooms on the second floor of their home.
“Once they do that, Teakwood will have renovated our house from top to bottom,” Perry said.