In their hometown of Moulton, Texas, Diana and Harvey Kloesel bought a 1903 Queen Anne Victorian house. Like most old-house owners, they made necessary upgrades and improvements over time. One big project was the renovation of the kitchen.
“The old kitchen was divided up, so there was very little space,” Diana says. “At holiday meals, we couldn’t all fit around the table.” At 15 by 20 feet, the room was big enough, but an awkwardly placed pantry (which gobbled up one window) made the layout choppy. A brick chimney, vestige of days when the house was heated by a wood stove, took up valuable real estate. A two-level island was too big, yet lacked storage. Appliances and countertops were outdated and unsightly, and the floor was covered with uninspiring sheet vinyl.
THE COUNTERTOPS: At the perimeter, base cabinets have counters of polished white marble. The island is topped with green-veined Sequoia marble given a leathered finish (honed and dimpled).
The couple turned to Sarah Stacey, an Austin-based interior designer they’d met through their daughter. An avowed lover of old houses, she knows how to introduce contemporary elements into a traditional interior. In a project that took six months, she stripped the room to the studs, removing the pantry, the chimney, and the awkward island. In their place is a practical, bright space filled with natural light.
But, Stacey says, “I came into the room when it was considered done. And I thought, that wall needs something. It’s too blank!” A punch of period color and pattern comes from a feature wall papered in ‘Pimpernel’, an 1876 William Morris pattern that’s still in production.
“It makes all the other elements sing,” Stacey says; “and the homeowners love it.”
The new design specified cabinets that rise to the ceiling, essentially bringing the pantry into the room—and providing even more storage. “Lower cabinets are well organized with drawers,” homeowner Diana says. “Instead of a lazy Susan, the lower-cabinet corners have drawers cut to fit. Top shelves in uppers provide storage for seldom-used things, like large serving dishes.”
Contemporary function extends to subtle, under-cabinet counter lighting and hidden electrical outlets. The new island, painted to blend with the cabinets, is topped with Sequoia marble with green veining and a leathered finish, and fitted with a sleek induction cooktop. Polished white marble tops the perimeter counters, which have a backsplash of palest green subway tiles. Both Harvey and Diana had specified the apron-front sink as a must-have. A pair of globe lights illuminates the whole room. Wood shutters shade the windows. Mounted on the wall, a pair of curvaceous electric fans move the air around when a lot of cooking is going on.
A special treat had been hidden under the sheet flooring: original longleaf-pine floorboards. Refinished, they gleam like satin.
“Before we renovated the kitchen, I didn’t really spend very much time in there,” Harvey says. He and Diana own and run a restaurant just two blocks away. “But now, the colors and the light make me feel as though I’m in a greenhouse. I cook at home a lot now.”
In an act of recycling, and in appreciation of their incomparable aged character, the owners saved the bricks as the kitchen chimney was demolished. Today, those bricks line the flower beds and the front walk, and are used as edging for the lawn.