A handcrafted French stove inspires a suite (and sweet) redesign.
Written by Amy Elbert
Photography by John Bessler
Produced by Stacy Kunstel
A grand 1915-era mansion modeled after a 16th-century English Tudor castle certainly demands a strong shot of tradition when it comes to interior design. But who really wants to hang out in a centuries-old kitchen?
Nobody, figured New Jersey kitchen designer Jim Dove, who created an inviting kitchen suite with a graceful blend of modern and period elements for the 2012 showhouse at Glynallyn Castle in Morristown, New Jersey.
“People like the peaceful quality of clean, modern lines but most of our clients live in traditional homes,” says Dove, a kitchen designer at Canterbury Design in Morristown. “It’s a bit of a balancing act to get the correct push and pull of colors, textures, and forms.”
Dove and the Canterbury Design team—Melissa Seibold, Scott Seibold, and Alison Griffin—started with one large room at the Mansion in May Designer Showhouse, with the vision of creating a guest suite with kitchen. Their first choice was a dark navy blue French range that has the charm of an old European stove combined with the latest in high-powered cooking functions. A coordinating navy vent hood and side cabinets with stainless steel tops give the nearly 60-inch-long range even more of a presence.
An arched nook was constructed on one wall to gracefully accentuate the cooking zone. A refrigerator and a pantry neatly fit into recesses on either side of the arch, hidden behind ceiling-high, paneled cherry doors, also with arched tops.
Another wall was modified to enclose existing radiators and create charming window niches. The radiators are camouflaged with metal mesh doors and topped with stone windowsills. “Air is able to flow through the mesh, and the stone sills allow heat to radiate,” Dove notes. Plus, enclosing the radiators created enough wall depth for a built-in kitchen hutch.
The beveled-glass doors on the built-in alder hutch pay homage to the traditional aesthetic of the mansion—they’re reminiscent of the diamond grid in many of the home’s original windows.
Modern influences came into play with the boxy island, topped with a thick square-edge slab of Danby marble. Rather than adding ornately turned legs, Dove set the island on simple tapered feet with a mirrored toekick. “The toekick reflects the floor, giving the illusion that the island is floating,” Dove says. Nickel lanterns above the island are traditional in style, but their large scale gives them an updated attitude that energizes the room, the designer says.
A tone-on-tone Venetian plaster treatment with an old-world matte finish gives depth and patina to the walls. New ceiling beams (added to unify the spaces) and trim were painted semigloss white.
New Jersey interior designers Laurie Finn and Mary Dore oversaw the sitting and dining areas, taking cues from the blue range. In the dining area, blue-and-white fabric lends a French country air to whitewashed fretwork chairs that circle a mahogany table. Cream-colored furnishings provide a serene backdrop in the sitting area, where blue makes a comeback on pillows and draperies.
The kitchen, dining, and sitting areas flow easily from one to the other, combining “sleek sophistication with traditional familiarity,” says Dove, “a convivial atmosphere for the grand home’s guests.”
Interior designers: Laurie Finn and Mary Dore, La Jolie Maison, 359 Springfield Ave., Summit, NJ 07901; 908/598-7170, lajolie.com.
Kitchen designer: Jim Dove, Canterbury Design, 103 Ridgedale Ave., Morristown, NJ 07962; 973/539-3339, canterburydesign.com.