Biking trips in idyllic Tuscany inspired Jeanne and Steve Hirsch to bring the Italian countryside to their Wesley Chapel kitchen.
The newly retired Hirsches had moved into the 1997-built Saddlebrook home from Long Island, New York two years ago. Surrounded by outdated, generic white cabinets and countertops, Jeanne says remodeling a kitchen was an easy decidion. “We had been to Tuscany several times and we liked the rich, warm wood and high ceilings we saw there,” she explains. “We also saw these types of disappearing, camouflaged doors in the kitchens in Italy, so we wanted to incorporate the look of those doors and have them blend right into our cabinetry at home.”
Last September, the couple hired designers Joe Bartolotta and Krista Medendorp of Tampa’s Artisan Design and embarked on a full-scale renovation. Bartolotta handled the structural elements of the revamping, such as the drafting of archways and lighting concepts, while Medendorp concentrated on the color scheme and decorative accents.
“The Hirsches had a very closed-in kitchen and an open area beyond it that was plain, so we wanted to give the whole area a fluid, Tuscan feel,” Bartolotta says. “We built a whole wall that made the doors in the kitchen disappear, like they wanted, and designed all the archways. We built about seven archways, and there were none in the house at the time, so that completely changed the look of the kitchen and surrounding rooms.”
The kitchen’s adjoining pantry, garage and laundry room doors were reframed to match the interior walls, and the existing window in the breakfast area was replaced with a single fiberglass entry door. An eyebrow arch at ceiling level was created to divide the kitchen and family room. Under-cabinet and in-cabinet puck lights were installed and pendant lights with dimmer switches were mounted above the center island.
“We do a lot of entertaining for friends and family, so having a kitchen that fit our lifestyle was essential. I enjoy cooking, and my husband was a bartender while he was going to medical school, so we wanted to put in a pub area where he could experiment with drinks,” Jeanne says. “There is also a piece of furniture in our kitchen now – an old-fashioned barber shop piece from the 1840s with bottles of olive oil on the shelves – that the designers were able to weave into the kitchen for us.”
The designers were also able to take an image of the Tuscan landscape from the Hirsches’ vacation and replicate it onto the range hood. Now, Jeanne can experience a figurative escape to Europe while whipping up Italian fare.
Brookhaven’s Lewisburg recessed inset doors with rustic hinging for the upper cabinets and Winfield Square recessed doors on the lower cabinetry. Other impressive details include the dovetail drawer boxes with soft-close glides, clear glass doors on the stacked upper cabinetry and bar area, angled pullout spice racks on each side of the range and a wall hideaway appliance cabinet next to the paneled refrigerator.
Storage is also ample in the remodeled space. Inside the island are file drawer cabinets, a 15-inch single trash cabinet to the right of the sink, and a unique compartment for outdoor grilling items, including a slot for plates and trays and a rack for hanging utensils.
“I love the marriage of the old and the new in this kitchen, and it feels really comfortable, like a kitchen that’s been around for a long time, where you can relax and enjoy a family dinner,” Medendorp says. “The homeowners chose design elements based on their travels and on what they loved. This seems to be the trend right now, just putting those personal elements into your dream kitchen. I always encourage my clients to do what feels like home to them.”