New Kitchen Looks with Old-School Charm

By: Kate Nalepinski

From Manhasset to Montauk, Oceanside to Orient, Westbury to Water Mill, Long Island knows how to nail old-school architectural charm. While the North Shore features numerous early 20th century estates inspired by English manor houses and Italian villas, the South Shore maintains an upscale  yet natural appeal—and, of course, there is the gamut of Colonials, Cape Cods, ranches, split-levels and unique styles that all come together to make the definition of “a Long Island home” indescribable.

Regardless of style, however, it is fairly safe to say that, more than any other room, the kitchen is the heart of the home in countless cases. And an updated kitchen is both an essential aspect of day-to-day living and marketability when putting a home up for sale.

According to U.S.A. Cabinet Stores, most homeowners renovate their kitchen every 10 to 15 years. As the spring season starts to arrive and homeowners ponder the improvement projects they may undertake this year, many will no doubt be gearing up to renovate the kitchen. But if you live in a house that has a past you’re looking to preserve, how can you upgrade an older kitchen and maintain its historic integrity?

Right off the bat, Will Griffiths, co-owner of Forest Kitchen and Bath in Glen Cove, recommends homeowners approach designers with a clear vision of how they want their kitchen to appear before remodeling. Make a list of needs and wants, Griffiths says, and don’t be afraid to do some scouring on the web.

“I tell my clients to go online, enter keywords like ‘modern’ or, ‘traditional’ and you’ll see a bunch of different styles,” he says. “Make a short list of what you think your taste is.”

Why? Because it gives designers a lot more to work with than starting from scratch with no ideas or vision.

To get the ball rolling on renovations, Griffiths suggests homeowners and designers splurge on a new sink and faucet. “Nothing gets as much abuse in your kitchen as your sink and your faucet,” he says.

Not only are sinks and faucets easy to upgrade, but they won’t break the bank for homeowners planning to elevate the rest of the kitchen.

When it comes to cabinetry, wood cabinets and raised panels are indicative of more traditional styles. Homeowners can ask designers to incorporate these features to achieve a stunning, upgraded kitchen while adhering to tenets of old-time charm. Elaborate cabinet moldings can also be considered to keep an old-school look.

As for the details, Griffiths recommends an oil-rubbed bronze finish for appliances, which could make them look like antiques.

These days, countertops come in a seemingly endless array of colors and materials. For traditional-feeling kitchen countertops, Griffiths suggests you aim for marble or quartz with brown tones.

“Mable is always in style, so it’s a safe bet,” he says. “It just looks classic and timeless.”

Overall, as much as we want our kitchens to look beautiful, one thing should take priority over all others in this particular room: functionality. “You don’t want to make strange sacrifices to achieve a look,” Griffiths says.

And to keep that traditional look, you don’t need to sacrifice modern-day durability, strength, ease of use and other factors, he notes, as a good deal of new material can still provide a classic appearance.

“There are plenty of designs out there that appear old-school, traditional or classic, but are made with today’s quality and technology.”