Written by Amy Elbert
Photography by Werner Straube
Produced by Hilary Rose
Thanks to a mild-mannered Clumber spaniel who had an affinity for getting into the garbage, Dave and Kappy Trott and their children enjoy a stunning new kitchen, casual dining area, and family room in their Birmingham, Michigan, home.
“Winston would chew a bottom cabinet drawer and pull it open so he could get to the garbage and food,” explains Dave. “He chewed away a corner of the cabinet, and it looked awful.” When the dog died at the ripe old age of 11, the Trotts debated how to deal with the damage. Should they replace the single gnawed cabinet (Dave’s idea) or all the cabinets (Kappy’s plan)? And if they installed new cabinets, how about getting new countertops and appliances?
For guidance, the Trotts got in touch with Chicago-based kitchen designer Mick De Giulio, who was recommended by both a cooking-enthusiast friend and their interior designer, Craig Steinhaus. “When we chatted with Mick, we talked about replacing the stone and maybe changing the footprint of the island and expanding the kitchen,” Dave says. “So what started out as replacing a cabinet drawer turned into a roughly 1,000-square-foot expansion, including a family room, mudroom, and powder room.”
The renovation and addition evolved as Kappy and Dave told De Giulio what they didn’t like about their present house, particularly its lack of a family gathering area. “We had a very small kitchen table that only sat four, and we have three kids,” says Kappy. “We couldn’t even fit in the whole family.
“We also wanted more neutral colors. The old kitchen had lime green walls, orangey granite, and white cabinets,” Kappy adds. “We were ready to go more neutral, and that definitely fit with Mick’s aesthetic.” At their meeting with De Giulio in Chicago, the Trotts included architect Victor Saroki and designer Steinhaus—Birmingham, Michigan, professionals working with the Trotts. “It was a really good team, and we all had the same intention: to make this kitchen wing the living area of the house,” says De Giulio.
Saroki designed an addition that opens to the kitchen, creating space for a new casual dining area and a family room with a vaulted ceiling and two walls of French doors that usher in light and views.
De Giulio reconfigured the existing kitchen and utility room spaces to gain more square footage for cooking and entertaining. The laundry room was moved to the basement, and the narrow butler’s pantry was replaced with a glamorous bar integrated into the kitchen. “It’s really an open butler’s pantry because it connects with the formal dining room (next to the kitchen) and can be used as a serving area,” De Giulio explains. The silver-nickel counter, sink, and upper cabinets are paired with lacquered walnut lower cabinets sporting chunky nickel hardware to give the kitchen the traditional-with-a-twist look the Trotts wanted. “The house is somewhat Colonial and classic,” De Giulio says. “The idea was to do something both modern and classic. This is a younger family, and they wanted some edge to the design—some snap without being over the top.” A sophisticated color palette (silver, chocolate, and ivory with a hint of green) and a graceful mix of materials and warm wood tones do the trick.
Countertop-to-ceiling windows and transoms on the range wall maximize light. “The transoms above the hood area make the whole wall light up,” De Giulio says. “We wanted as much light as possible,” Kappy adds. But the best part, says Dave: “Now there is room for everyone to hang out.” Even the (new) dog, Annie.
Architect: Victor Saroki, Victor Saroki & Assoc., 430 N. Old Woodward Ave., Birmingham, MI 48009; 248/258-5707, victorsaroki.com
Interior designer: Craig Steinhaus, Craig Steinhaus & Assoc., 187 S. Old Woodward Ave., Suite 206, Birmingham, MI 48009; 248/593-2635, ctsteinhaus.com
Kitchen designer: Mick De Giulio, De Giulio Kitchen Design, 1121 Central Ave., Wilette, IL 60091; 847/256-8833, degiuliodesign.com