They say bigger is better. And most of us believe that brighter is also better. For the Nickol family, their kitchen renovation is both bigger and brighter, and it couldn’t be better. The kitchen used to be half its current size. A first-floor renovation, to include the kitchen, required re positioning much of the house, relocating closets and the laundry room (originally housed in the kitchen), and reconfiguring some kitchen windows. It was all worth it, because the end result is a beautifully expanded space that is light, airy, and most of all, bright.
Homeowner Sarah Nickol elaborates: “When we bought the house, it had been vacant for several years and was kind of a time capsule,” she says. “Everything was maroon, tan and green. It was a small space with dark floors and very little light coming in.”
READY FOR A RE-DO
Sarah and her husband Seth engaged contractor Todd Ross and kitchen designer Melissa Kehayes to create and implement the new layout. Of particular consideration as they began the plans was the supporting beam that runs across the top of the room. Too thick to be recessed into the ceiling, the beam could not be hidden and thus needed to be incorporated into the overall design.
Melissa, who works at Western Custom Cabinetry, explains. “I knew we were going to have to find a way to embrace the beam, so it was not randomly in some open spot over a window,” she says. “I told Sarah that if she was open to it, I could make the design look really awesome by centering the hood on the beam.”
They did just that, and next, Melissa and the homeowners worked through choices around the kitchen’s spectacular island. Sarah was clear that she wanted a large island, as the family often entertains and, as is typical in most homes, everyone congregates around the island. In order to create an island out of one continuous slab, one typically has a limitation of ten feet. Using the same ingenuity she employed with the beam, Melissa opted to create an island that totals 13 feet. Because of the butcher block at the end, she was able to use one continuous quartz stone with no unsightly seam running down the middle.
Sarah, who originally wanted an all-wood island, is beyond pleased with the ultimate choice and with the use of the warm white Calacatta quartz. “Melissa pointed out that we already had wood floors, a wood beam and a wood butcher block. That’s lots of wood,” she says with a laugh. “She was 100 percent correct.”
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
The stain for the butcher block required testing about a dozen custom mixes to perfectly match it to the beam and to the wood outlining the glass cabinets. Conversely, Sarah explains that they didn’t want the butcher block and the floors to be “matchy-matchy.” She wanted the floors, which originally had a yellowish undertone, to be a bit grainy and to reflect a warmer hue. This was accomplished by sanding down and staining the existing hardwoods.
“The warmer stain fits Sarah and her family,” says Melissa. “It made it more inviting, whereas white oak can be more modern, and that wasn’t the style of this house.”
The eclectic light fixtures, including simple candelabras and black wrought-iron lanterns, illuminate the floors and increase the warmth factor.
One of Sarah’s favorite features is the range. Her recent cooking endeavors are turning out well, and she gives credit for this fact to the range. She also loves her ice machine. Due to appliance product shortages, the family received their new appliances on a staggered basis, one every couple of months. When the ice machine arrived, it quickly became a family favorite. “It’s built in so you can’t even tell where it is—it’s part of the cabinetry,” explains Sarah. “It also holds 65 pounds of ice, so we will never run out. This is great since we have a pool.”
Matching double doors open to a well-outfitted pantry with built in cabinetry and shelving. The kitchen originally had two separate closets in this area, separated by several feet of wasted space. Melissa suggested demoing the entire thing to create an amazing walk-in pantry. “It’s a game changer,” she says. “In an older house in Montgomery, something cool and unexpected like this is unusual.”
Another cherished feature is the hutch with its floating shelves and soft floral wallpaper. This area gets a bit of time in the spotlight when Sarah is stationed at the dining room table for work calls. “It’s my backdrop for Zoom. I get comments from my coworkers, and I say, ‘It’s part of my brand-new kitchen that I’m slightly obsessed with,’” concludes Sarah with a laugh.
Kitchen design and color consultation Melissa Kehayes, Western Custom Cabinetry; Contractor Todd Ross, Ross General Contractors; Kitchen cabinetry Western Custom Cabinetry; Kitchen countertops Calacatta Arno, Rock Solid Tops; Appliances Bosch dishwasher, Sub-Zero refrigerator, Wolf oven, Scotsman ice maker, Sharp microwave, all from Custom Distributors, Inc.; Wallpaper Lulu and Georgia from Scalamandre Lo
Article by Lee Rhodes | Photos by Mark Tepe
Article originally appeared in July 2022