Leslie Banker -- Interior Design, 9/1/2004 12:00:00 AM
Back in Victorian times, vacationing aristocrats didn't make much use of their own kitchens. That was the servants' domain. Not so today—even if you are Anton and Mary von Faber-Castell, owners of an 1870s shingle-style summer cottage in Southampton, New York. The house's rabbit-warren kitchen lacked not only a staff but also anyplace for friends and family to sit.
With the dishwasher in the butler's pantry, the refrigerator in the laundry, and the stove in its own room entirely, the kitchen was disjointed, to say the least. "You would wander through the spaces, looking for a seat—and end up in the living room," says Coburn Architecture partner Ward Welch, who was hired to remedy the comical situation.
Welch proposed a clever substitution: Tear down a small three-story wing; then build another one, almost three times the size. The 3,000-square-foot replacement structure would comprise a basement with a TV room and wine cellar; a ground floor with an expanded kitchen and family room, a larger butler's pantry, laundry facilities, and a powder room; and two upper floors with guest bedrooms, guest bathrooms, and a new master bath.
"Keep it simple," said Mary von Faber-Castell. So Welch promised that the addition's cedar clapboard and shingles would blend with the old house, and the interiors would mesh, too. "The ground floor isn't completely open-plan," says Welch. "We retained some of the traditional shingle-style layout, such as having smaller rooms connected by a back hallway."
Still, the 600-square-foot new kitchen brings dishwasher, refrigerator, and stove into the same space for the first time. Ample seating, which starts with beech stools pulled up to the kitchen's marble-topped island, also includes a blue-and-white checked sofa in the family room beyond.
Welch reproduced door casings with rosettes from the rest of the house and copied the glass-fronted cabinets from the old butler's pantry. The enlarged pantry's square windows are modeled on those of its predecessor—its venerable nickel sink still doing service in the new surroundings. Meanwhile, stainless-steel kitchen appliances and custom ribbed-glass pendant fixtures provide contemporary contrast. Central vacuuming adds pure modern convenience.
The second floor's 130-square-foot master bath also takes cues from the past. On the walls, Welch installed a white-painted bead-board dado. An original claw-foot tub stands on the white unglazed-ceramic hexagonal floor tiles, but the glass shower enclosure introduces an up-to-date note to the classic theme.
Some of the cottage's original accoutrements didn't make the cut, however. Welch removed all the bellpulls, which once summoned servants. The children had been continually ringing their mother.