Transforming a Lewisberry Builder-Standard Kitchen
BEFORE AND AFTER: The original owners of a 25 year-old home on the edge of a nature preserve were ready to ditch their aging, builder-standard kitchen for something substantially larger and more dramatic. With the help of a small extension to the back of the home, what was a modest kitchen and breakfast nook was transformed into a grand gathering and entertaining space.
Lewisberry, Pennsylvania is a small town of 365 located about 12 miles Southeast of Harrisburg and 20 miles Northwest of York. It’s an idyllic town that often serves as a bedroom community for businesses, institutions and military facilities located in the Harrisburg area. The town center itself is dotted only by a few local businesses, but it’s the people that make Lewisberry truly noteworthy.
Settled in the 1730’s by Quakers from Germany, the borough was named after Eli Lewis, one of the original settlers who came to fame because of his service in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. During the 18th and turn of the 19th centuries, the town’s economy was fueled by several mills, a tannery and several manufacturers of coffee mills including the famous Shetter Brothers. With the patent expiration well over 100 years ago, this iconic coffee mill is still being replicated by enthusiasts today.
There’s no doubt, however, that if someone outside of Central Pennsylvania knows the name Lewisberry, it’s because of the Red Land Little League team and their storied 2015 run to the Little League World Series. Not quite the same ending as the movie “Hoosier’s”, but darn close, the Red Land team made it to the finals where they lost to Japan, 18-11.
Lewisberry has many reasons to favor it as a place to build the home and kitchen of your dreams. Like much of the Susquehanna Valley, the area has mature woodlands and rolling hills that create endless possibilities for homes that embrace the natural beauty of the area.
Mother Hubbard’s was fortunate to be asked by a Lewisberry husband and wife to design the kitchen of their dreams for their twenty-year old home with idyllic views of the woodlands surrounding the Yellow Breeches Creek.
Time to Remodel a Builder Standard Kitchen
Built in 1997, our clients’ 5,000 square foot home is located on three beautiful acres. The family, now nearing retirement, purchased the home in the pre-construction phase of a new development, making them the first and only owners.
The couple described the experience of working with a developer during our first meeting. “We were young and inexperienced when we built the house and the first allowance we received from the builder was for the kitchen. We were on a restricted budget at the time so we went with the builders’ choices. We were never quite satisfied and as time went by the lovely ivy wallpaper became dated and every time we had guests over everyone collected in the kitchen. We decided that we wanted to update the kitchen and extend it so that the seating area was closer to the woods so that when we are older and can no longer walk through the woods we can still see the wildlife.”
In the 1990’s, when this home was built, kitchens had already earned a leading role with most builders connecting the kitchen to a family room or casual dining space. Still, by today’s standards the 90’s kitchens were small and it was common to see the kitchen walled off from direct outside views. Such was the case in this Lewisberry home.
Opening the Kitchen to A New Room With a View
By the time Mother Hubbard’s was approached by the family to help design the new kitchen, plans were already well under way to add an extension to the back of the house that would allow the kitchen to be enlarged and for creating a space for a casual dining area facing the woods.
In addition to wanting a kitchen where two people could share quiet moments enjoying a cup of coffee, the owners, who entertained often, also wanted a space were guests could congregate.
To accomplish this task, Mother Hubbard’s began by extending the footprint of the kitchen several feet into the new extension towards the back of the house. This not only freed up much needed space to expand the center island, which was originally just a small 3-by-3 foot square, it also offered the opportunity to add much needed storage and larger, modern appliances.
Inspiration From an Antique Dutch Cupboard
The owners had, over the years, collected many antique items and furniture. One of their prized possessions was an antique Dutch cupboard that served as the inspiration for two very special pieces designed by Mother Hubbard’s. Hand crafted by a Cumberland Valley artisan in the 1840’s, the antique cherry cabinet shared the simple Shaker-style lines that characterized that period. The owners wanted Mother Hubbard’s to integrate the sensibility of that inspiration piece into the new kitchen.
To meet that challenge, Mother Hubbard’s began by identifying where the custom pieces might fit harmoniously into the design. It was determined that two existing closets on either side of the door leading into the formal dining room would be the right place to add cabinetry that shared the antique cupboard’s aesthetics.
Rather than simply ordering Shaker cabinets to add to the kitchen, Mother Hubbard’s chose to design two unique furniture-quality cupboards that would serve as a focal point for the new kitchen. Starting with standard cherry components from the cabinet manufacturer, Mother Hubbard’s transformed the stock items into twenty first century replicas of the original 1840’s Pennsylvania Dutch cupboard. For example, the original antique cupboard featured a row of shallow drawers with simple round pulls. Mother Hubbard’s emulated this feature by specifying cherry desk drawers from the cabinetry manufacturer, modifying them to create a row of three drawers that mirror the inspiration piece.
Indeed, from the simple feet that raise the cupboard off the floor, to the backer board above the marble work surface, no detail from the inspiration piece was ignored.
The result was the two beautiful pieces of furniture seen here, both made with standard pieces modified at the factory to Mother Hubbard’s exacting specifications.
Beautiful Views Into and Out Of the Kitchen
To achieve the functionality and beauty that the owners wanted in their new kitchen, Mother Hubbard’s added some unique features to the space. First, a new nine foot long kitchen island was created, making it possible to install a second sink to the kitchen. This addition meant that both husband and wife could work side-by-side, each with individual access to an all-important sink.
Second, to provide visual separation between the kitchen and the new casual seating area, Mother Hubbard’s designed a breakfast bar to sit atop the line of base cabinetry that faces the wall of windows in the new casual eating space. Not only is the breakfast bar a great place to sit on stools and enjoy coffee in the morning, it also conveniently hides any kitchen mess when family and friends are gathered.
Similarly, a book case at the end of the breakfast bar blocks the view of the kitchen workspace from the Great Room. The book case was also designed to be a unique focal point, providing a space to showcase a few small antiques, making the kitchen even more personal and welcoming.
Perhaps most importantly, neither the breakfast bar, nor the book case, are so high that views from the kitchen into the woods is obstructed. In fact, the views enjoyed by anyone standing at the sink are better than one might have if the kitchen were located along an exterior wall!
A Beautiful Kitchen That Satisfies All of the Owner’s Wishes
In the end, the brand new kitchen with its custom features satisfied all of the owners’ hopes for the new space. The design, with traditional white cabinetry, is very warm and welcoming. The contrasting brown Cambria quartz countertop adds a very up-to-date look that insures the kitchen will seem fresh for years to come. Finally, the custom designed cherry cupboards that mirror the aesthetic of 1840’s antique inspiration piece unites old and new, providing the owners with a link to the past and an eye towards the future.