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Sense of refinement – Classic meets contemporary in this remodel by Mary Jane Pappas

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Classic meets contemporary in this remodel by Mary Jane Pappas

Sense of refinement – Classic meets contemporary in this remodel by Mary Jane Pappas Discover this article's resources


In times gone by, the kitchen in a large, opulent residence was the domain of the servants. Typically, this space would be cramped, with limited views and poor connections – a place of work, not for play.

The owners of this kitchen in a classic house asked designer Mary Jane Pappas and her team to transform their existing work area to make it lighter, longer, and out of the way of foot traffic between the back door and the dining room. The design also had to provide pedestrian access to the garden, bring in more natural light, and combine modern efficiency with a refined, transitional appeal, says Pappas.

"To achieve this, we pushed out the rear of the kitchen, adding a breakfast area for four in the extra space. Beyond this, I added French doors that open directly to the back garden. Previously there were only windows at this end of the room.

"The extended area had to contend with a low shed roof – however, we turned what might have been a negative into a plus by introducing a barrel vault ceiling that follows the unusual roofline."

Prior to the remodel, it was necessary to cross the kitchen when going from the back door to the dining room. Now the rear entry next to the kitchen has been reworked, a mudroom added, and the entrance into the kitchen moved farther down the room. Once at the rear of the space, the door to the dining room is now opposite the new mudroom door.


"Now a corridor divides the majority of the kitchen from the new breakfast area, leaving the working area of the kitchen free for use by one or more chefs as required – this increased room to move was another request of the owners."

In terms of aesthetics, the U-shaped kitchen has clean, white cabinetry with a transitional door style. This is offset by a marble tile backsplash, dark-stained oak millwork, and a mahogany island with a butcher block countertop. Earth-colored floor tiles and dark perimeter countertops complete the understated, classic look that makes the space an ideal backdrop for social gatherings.

One of the owners grew up in France and is a devotee of Cordon Bleu cooking. She enjoys creating new dishes, so high functionality was a must, says Pappas.

"The major appliances are strategically placed for convenience and to conceal the staircase structure that projects below the ceiling plane. A variety of cabinet storage systems responds to the requirement for good organization and helps keep the work surfaces clutter free."

Credit List

Architect Rich Laffin, Richard Laffin Architects(Saint Paul, MN)
Interior and kitchen designers Mary Jane Pappas ASID, Patricia Undlin ASID, Heather Zappo allied member ASID, Pappas Design (Minneapolis, MN)
Cabinet company Countryside Cabinets of Buffalo
Builder Fey Construction
Cabinetry Perimeter, custom catalyzed lacquer finish and island, stained mahogany by J Michaels Company
Countertops Perimeter, Cambria quartz in Oakhampton color; island countertop, John Boos hard rock maple butcher block
Flooring Existing wood in dining room; Broadway porcelain tile in Bronzo color from Ceramic Tile Works
Doors and windows Ultimate In-swing Clad French Doors from Marvin Windows
Backsplash Bianco Venatino Random honed Carrara marble tiles from Ceramic Tile Works
Kitchen sinks Franke
Faucets Grohe
Oven Thermador
Cooktop Wolf
Ventilation Vent-A-Hood
Microwave GE Monogram
Refrigeration Liebherr
Dishwasher Bosch
Waste disposal InSinkErator
Water dispenser Opella

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