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Spacious and Family-Friendly Kitchen Update

A family room addition and kitchen update show that even an old dog's bad habits can have an upside

Written by Amy Elbert
  • Werner Straube

    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.

    Photography Werner Straube
    Produced by Hilary Rose

    Architect: Victor Saroki, Victor Saroki & Assoc., 430 N. Old Woodward Ave., Birmingham, MI 48009; 248/258-5707,
    Interior designer: Craig Steinhaus, Craig Steinhaus & Assoc., 187 S. Old Woodward Ave., Suite 206, Birmingham, MI 48009; 248/593-2635,
    Kitchen designer: Mick De Giulio, De Giulio Kitchen Design, 1121 Central Ave., Wilette, IL 60091; 847/256-8833,

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    Kitchen from Breakfast Area

    The sleek island—with a marble sink, a sliding teak cutting board, and a graceful Kallista faucet—looks toward a new dining area and family room with a vaulted ceiling and multiple French doors. The double refrigerator with bottom freezers has mirror-and-wood panel fronts for furniture styling. Windows on each side of the range and transoms above the hood invite sunlight.

    Island cabinetry (“SieMatic BeauxArts”/Amaranth); perimeter cabinetry (“SieMatic SC10”/Dark Oak): SieMatic Corp., 888/316-2665,
    Refrigerator (by Sub-Zero); range (by Wolf): Sub-ZeroWolf, 800/222-7820,
    Refrigerator armoire (sable on walnut, De Giulio Collection); polished stainless steel hood (custom); stainless linen chest at end of island (custom, De Giulio Collection); mosaic top on chest (by SieMatic Corp); crystal knobs on chest (by SieMatic): De Giulio Kitchen Design, 847/256-8833,
    Pot rack with light fixtures and hooks (polished nickel); cabinetry pulls (by SieMatic): through De Giulio Kitchen Design, 847/256-8833,
    Main sink in island (custom stone sink with stainless base and sliding teak cutting board); prep sink to right of range (custom stainless steel sink): De Giulio Kitchen Design, 847/256-8833,
    Fixtures for main sink (“Vir Stil Minimal Faucet with Sidespray”/polished nickel #P23069-00, by Laura Kirar): Kallista, 888/452-5547,
    Fixtures for prep sink (“Elio Faucet with Pullouot Sprayhead”/platinum polished): Dornbracht, 800/774-1181,
    Integrated dishwashers: Miele, 800/843-7231,
    Countertops (Calacatta gold marble); backsplash (Calacatta honed marble): De Giulio Kitchen Design, 847/256-8833,
    Counter stools (“Madigan Backless Counter Stool”); leather counter-stool fabric (“Vacuna”/Linen); dining chairs (“Sebastian”): Hickory Chair, 800/349-4579,
    Wall paint (“Creamy White” #OC-7); trim paint (“Cloud White” #967): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667,
    Roman shades (“Knot Again”): Gretchen Bellinger Inc., 518/445-2400,

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    Glass and barware are displayed in nickel-silver upper cabinets. The nickel-silver countertop and sink and mirrored backsplash give the area a hint of glamour.

    Lacquer cabinets and glass front upper cabinets (gloss walnut, De Giulio Collection); sink (custom nickel sink); countertop (custom, nickel silver): De Giulio Kitchen Design, 847/256-8833,
    Mirrored backsplash (antique nickel); cabinetry hardware (polished nickel): through De Giulio Kitchen Design, 847/256-8833,
    Sink fixtures (“Vir Stil Minimal Faucet with Side Spray”/polished nickel): Kallista, 888/452-5547,
    Wine refrigerator: Sub-Zero Inc, 800/222-7820,

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    Dave and Kappy Trott and children—Courtney, 16 (seated), Taylor, 20, and Duke, 21 (standing), with Annie, a Daisy Dog.

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    Generously sized Hickory Chair stools at the island provide counter seating for quick meals or conversation with the cooks. Modern and traditional come together in the SieMatic cabinets in a mix of wood finishes and materials.

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    Range Backsplash

    A sliding marble backsplash on the range wall conceals a small television and bottles of oils and spices.

    See more on the following slide.

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    Range Backsplash

    “They wanted some edge to the design—some snap, without being over the top,” says kitchen designer Mick De Giulio.

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    Classic Sconces

    Polished-nickel sconces with square black shades hang on walls near the range, dressing up the work zone and giving the kitchen a “living room” feel. While the kitchen is grounded in traditional style, the mix of metal finishes—from soft satin to highly polished—provides an updated and modern vibe for the space.

    Sconces: De Giulio Kitchen Design, 847/256-8833,

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    Clever Storage

    Countertop appliances and food containers are concealed behind motorized “garage” doors that raise and lower at the flip of a switch. “We probably have 10 feet of storage behind those motorized doors,” says designer Mick De Giulio. The kitchen cleans up in minutes—an important feature when the work zone is so visible from the living areas.

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    Lighted Pot Rack

    Function and style combine in the polished- nickel light fixture and a pot rack that displays shiny pots and pans above the island. “I tend to keep the pots I use more often in the drawers by the range,” says Kappy. The utilitarian design—heavy-duty hooks and glass light shades—doesn’t compete with the area’s dressier elements.

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    Wired for Work

    Sockets under kitchen countertops are plentiful but inconspicuous, making it easy for multiple cooks to use appliances without draping electrical cords over traffic and work areas. Installing socket strips, such as this one on the island, is a style plus, too—eliminating the need to clutter pretty tile backsplashes with wall outlets.

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    Jewel-like Chest

    Mick De Giulio designed an elegant chest with apothecary drawers and a mosaic tile top for the end of the island near the dining area. The chest is handcrafted of polished nickel and German silver (a copper-nickel alloy that is not actual silver). Used to store linens and other tableware, the chest makes a stylish transition from work zone to dining area.

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    Party Place

    A nickel-silver countertop and sink, mirrored backsplash, and masculine chunky hardware on the lacquer-finished walnut cabinets lend a sophisticated 1930s air to the area, the designer says. Guests can comfortably gather at the bar in the kitchen rather than crowd into a separate butler’s pantry as the previous layout dictated.

  • De Giulio Kitchen

    To see another beautiful kitchen designed by Mick De Giulio—and just as full of great design ideas—check out this presentation of a Light and Lovely Marble Kitchen.