Perhaps more than most people, Andy and Julie Snow knew how their house lived. The Snows bought and lived in the house for nine years, purchased from Andy’s parents who had lived in it for twenty-five. Built in a Cape Cod–style in 1915, the Mercer Island home not only had a lot of architectural history, it had a lot of family history, too.

“In the kitchen we needed new cabinets and countertops and the appliances were reaching their end of life,” explained Julie of the couple’s wish for a modern facelift. “We needed to keep the same feel despite all the changes,” added Andy.

Working with interior designer Jennifer Kowalski, AKBB, of Six Walls Interior Design and Laurie Robbins of Potter Construction, the project also encompassed remodeling a nearby laundry room and downstairs bathroom.

“The existing kitchen was not original,” said Kowalski, “In the big picture, the Snows wanted increased efficiency and a more effective use of the space that matched the architecture of the home.” While the basic footprint and appliance locations remained the same at the Snows’ request, the room’s general layout was extended by removing a closet to increase the size of the pantry and add a buffet/bar-type cabinet.

Playing off such existing details as the coffered ceiling, window trim and half-mullioned windows, Kowalski used classic white cabinets around the perimeter of the room to increase storage. Disguised within the cabinets and drawers are roll out and wing out shelves and adjustable dividers to accommodate the homeowners’ current and future needs.

In a modern deference to the home’s architectural heritage, Mont Blanc satin quartzite was used on the backsplash, counters and display shelf above the wall ovens and behind the stovetop. “The natural stone and stainless steel custom hood from Luwa Luxury Products over the stove top gave the kitchen more visual impact,” explained Kowalski, “and the different finishes add more visual depth and interest.”

A shell-like tile from Ann Sacks fills the space behind the buffet/bar provides more texture and echo a time when freestanding cabinets rather than fitted cabinetry was the norm.

The kitchen’s focal centerpiece, however, is the end-grain walnut butcher-block island at the room’s center. Adding visual interest and substance to the space, it also balances the extensive use of white with its warm wood tones. To provide cohesiveness, the same cabinets and plank wood flooring used in the kitchen was used in the laundry room. Space for floor-to-ceiling cabinets was created by replacing side-by-side laundry appliances with a stackable washer and ventless dryer by Miele. Deeper than normal cabinets were built to provide storage and pull out bins below in the newly created space.

Elesewhere, the downstairs bathroom was also included in the remodel. Using the same cabinet style as the kitchen and laundry room but in a different color, the vanity carries on the nod to history while still receiving a distinctive look. The room gets glamour from the use of crystal in the knobs, faucets and light fixture, and a leaded glass door provides light and privacy to the toilet area. “That custom door was out of the ordinary,” said Robbins. “It was a fun and unique project that recalled cabinet doors that had once been in the kitchen but were too worn out to reuse.”

Perhaps the most challenging part of the remodel was anticipating the reaction of all the family and friends who knew and loved the house so well. “The first time the whole family gathered here,” recalled Julie Snow, “they came in with an eagle eye because they had seen the ‘before’ kitchen and had wonderful memories of it. But they all said ‘you didn’t change it but you did’. They loved it.”


Potter Construction

Six Walls Interior Design

Venetian Stone Works

Luwa Luxury Products: Vent-A-Hood

Kitchen Appliances: Luwa Luxury Products: Vent-A-Hood; Sub-Zero, Wolf, Fisher Paykel; Plumbing Fixtures: Newport Brass, Julien, Rohl, Samuel Heath