An Arts & Crafts Inspired Kitchen Makeover

Leaded glass, an antique iron fireback, and a pop of colorful art tile give a custom look to an affordable kitchen designed around ready-made cabinets in a period-inspired design.

The ca. 1920 row house, in the Fairmount neighborhood of Philadelphia, needed major repairs; it had been gutted by a fire in the 1970s. The subsequent remodeling made no attempt at a period look: “It was a DIY ‘Mediterranean’-style job with tiled countertops and harvest-gold appliances,” says homeowner Lynne Gery; she and her husband, Daniel Womer, bought the house in 1986. “I’d approached a few contractors over the years,” Lynne explains, “but I never met anyone I felt comfortable with. So we procrastinated.”  Lynne found Airy Kitchens through their Instagram posts. “They caught my eye because they were different from standard kitchen-designer renovations.

Opposite the banquette, an appliance hutch looks like a piece of furniture. The “hutch” opens to reveal small appliances, neatly hidden from view. opposite Like the leaded glass and art tiles, the banquette or eating nook suggests a kitchen design of the 1910s–20s.  

I had the impression that [designer Sean Lewis] devised something original for each client.” Airy Kitchens specializes in period-inspired design for old houses in the greater Philadelphia area. Lewis, the company’s creative director and senior designer, told us that he feels “in sync with the restorations you show.
I’ve been a big fan of Old-House Journal for a long time!” 

No longer rusty, an old iron fireback, salvaged from another house and long stored in the basement, became a focal point as the backsplash behind the range. Art tiles decorate the backsplash near the sink.

Lynne wanted a timeless look with an Arts & Crafts influence, to go with the 1920s house and to showcase her collection of ceramics.  “I asked for wood floors and more color in the tile, otherwise this design is all Sean,” says Lynne. “He listened, but he also explained what wouldn’t work. I’d initially wanted an island but it simply didn’t fit in this space. He suggested the leaded-glass cabinets, corbel brackets, and banquette seating.”

Simple cabinets from Airy Kitchens’ New England line are period-friendly; for this project, some are painted and some stained, for a less fitted look. The leaded-glass design of upper cabinets was inspired  by late-Victorian and Craftsman-era windows seen in local houses.

The custom look was made affordable with Airy Kitchens’ New England line of ready-made cabinets, in cherry. It’s a testament to how good standard cabinets can look, when they are of high quality and the overall design is sound. Multiple door styles and mouldings were used, in three of the firm’s many paint and stain options. Most cabinets have Shaker Inset doors; the hutch is fitted with Colonial Inset doors. 

The bench is upholstered in ‘Forest’ (in Teal), a fabric design based on a William Morris tapestry.

“During our initial consultation,” Sean Lewis says, “we noticed rusty old cast-iron panels in the basement. An antique fireback! We knew it would look great behind the range.” Lynne explains that her late father had salvaged the iron fireback from an old farmhouse. Cleaned up, the fireback is a focal point.


DESIGN/CABINETS Sean Lewis, Airy Kitchens

CORBELS cherry Osborne

TILE Motawi


PENDANT LIGHT ‘Eastmoreland’ aged brass 14” opal shade Rejuvenation

FABRIC Morris & Co.

TABLE Great Windsor Chairs

Related Resource

Pennsylvania Firebacks Cast-iron firebacks in historic & new design

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