After: A kitchen renovation transformed a dark, dated Ridgefield kitchen into a homeowner’s light, white airy dream kitchen. Pops of red work well in the neutral space. Bryan Haeffele photo.

When my husband and I moved into our 1962 split level home almost 20 years ago, we had to contend with old shag carpets, metallic wallpaper (even on the ceiling), ruffled polyester curtains, and faux gold/faux antiqued light switch plates and chandeliers. What bothered me the most, however, was the dark, depressing 12- by 10-foot kitchen. The brown cabinets, beige laminate countertops, rust-colored tile backsplash, and large brown ceiling fan immediately conjured images of the famous Brady Bunch home (groovy, right?). From even before the day we moved in, I envisioned a new kitchen complete with white cabinets, a white subway-tiled backsplash, and lighter colored countertops.

Dark cabinets and poor lighting made this kitchen seem particularly dark.

Before: Dark cabinets, dark appliances and poor lighting make the kitchen seem cramped and cave-like.

Well, nearly two decades later, I’m still envisioning the new kitchen, mainly because we’ve never had the opportunity to renovate the old one. A new roof, a new furnace (twice, but that’s another story), central air installation, and several floods have required us to put a kitchen remodel on the back burner indefinitely. However, I’ve learned to live vicariously through other homeowners who have had the opportunity to create the kitchen of their dreams … and in one particular case, the kitchen of my dreams.

The owners of my dream kitchen, a Ridgefield couple who moved into their home 24 years ago, were fortunate in that the home’s kitchen, although on the dark side, was in mint condition. “There were two previous owners,” the wife recalls, “neither of whom, for various reasons, ever lived in the home enough to use the kitchen. … There was still tape across the original refrigerator when we moved in!”

While the kitchen, with its dark cherry cabinets, wood floors and new appliances, might have appealed to a lot of people, the wife (a girl after my own heart) wanted white. “I had always dreamed of a bright, white, light kitchen,” she recalls, “and while I was thrilled to have a fairly nice, workable kitchen initially, particularly since we had two young boys to raise, I couldn’t wait to embark on a kitchen renovation.”

During: Builder Eddie Day completely gutted the homeowners' kitchen in preparation for the renovation.

During: Contractor Eddie Day, of New England Artisans Remodeling & Design Group, completely gutted the homeowners’ kitchen in preparation for the renovation.

Picture Perfect
In the ensuing years, the owner had torn countless pages from decorating magazines in preparation for a future remodel. Eventually, the appliances started to go and finally, last fall, after putting the boys through private school and college, the owners decided it was time to start the kitchen remodel.

“We interviewed a number of contractors, but ended up hiring Eddie Day, of New England Artisans Remodeling & Design Group,” the wife says. “We had complete confidence and trust in him, and he seemed to know exactly what we wanted.”

The homeowner showed Eddie her comprehensive folder of magazine clippings, and he subsequently came up with a 3-D design plan and showed her samples of the materials he had specified, which helped her envision how the finished kitchen would actually look. “All of the magazine pictures I showed Eddie were of giant kitchens. … We didn’t enlarge the space or change the layout, but Eddie was able to incorporate all of the bells and whistles into a smaller space,” she recounts. Eddie knew the wife loved to cook and entertain, for example, so he created drawers and cabinets that would accommodate that, plus lots of undercabinet lighting.

Knowing from their meetings and through the magazine photos that the owner wanted white, Eddie specified cabinets and drawers painted in Benjamin Moore White Dove, white marble countertops, a white subway tile backsplash, and a white farmhouse-style sink with a brushed nickel gooseneck faucet. He also used coordinating white paneling on the refrigerator and dishwasher (an 18-inch Bosch, which allows for more counter and cabinet space, yet is plenty big for the empty nesters) to fulfill the wife’s dream of an all-white kitchen.

“Some of the drawers are 34 inches wide, and quite deep, so I can fit a lot of pots, pans, and dishes,” the owner says, “making it very convenient when I entertain.”

Soft gray walls team perfectly with the creamy white cabinetry and dark wood floors, while a red-and-white toile window valance and cushions on the kitchen’s custom-built banquette (modeled after one the owner had seen in Traditional Home) add a pop of color. “Colby’s of Ridgefield made the valance and cushions for us, “the owner says, “and they did a beautiful job.” A wrought iron French bistro marble-topped table base (similar to one the owners admired in a local restaurant) provides the perfect spot for kitchen dining.

“This newly renovated kitchen is so completely conducive to cooking and entertaining, and contains everything I could possibly want,” the owner concludes. “It’s bright, white, and airy … definitely my dream come true.”

And mine, as well.

HO-N August Finklea6