A Transitional-Style Kitchen in Manhasset, New York, Combines Elements to Create a Timeless Feel
There’s a synergy in this exquisite kitchen designed by John Starck, president of Showcase Kitchens in Manhasset, New York, who describes his clients’ taste as an ornamental blend of beaux arts and traditional. “We pushed the envelope with ornamentation as far as transitional that is refined, which makes it all the more enticing,” he says.
Written by Jeanine Matlow, Photography by Ric Marder Imagery
The open layout of the freshly renovated and expanded space fits the young family who hosts everything from charity events to house tours. “They’re great people who were lovely to work for. We had a lot of fun together,” recalls Starck who worked in conjunction with architect Thomas N. Fox, from Manhattan-based Fox Diehl Architects; Fox planned an expansion of the original layout.
Typical for 1930s homes in the area, this one was without a spacious kitchen that was conducive to entertaining. “They wanted to take away the small eat-in kitchen and create a family room that connects to the kitchen and breakfast area for entertaining and for everyday life,” says Starck. “It’s open and airy and it flows rather than being compartmental.” Eileen Kathryn Boyd Interiors, located in Huntington, New York did the interior design.
Classic architectural features include custom cabinetry and carved embellishments such as the appliqués on the base of the hood. The Calacatta marble counters and backsplash feature a dramatic pattern that provides the perfect contrast. “It all boils down to texture and movement with a very subtle white for the overall palette and the veining of the marble that adds charisma. Together, they have an edge and a new feel,” says Starck.
“Because they have an old colonial, we modernized it a bit with the decor,” adds Starck. Fox says the fact that it wasn’t a very large space was one of the challenges. “Now people walk in and turn the corner and say ‘wow,’” says Fox. “Some details like the millwork were taken into other areas of the house for a more seamless transition.”
Vintage-inspired lighting above the island lends some edginess to the overall aesthetic, while the color palette and the classical architectural details bring it back to the traditional and beaux-arts blend, says Starck. Recessed and task lighting were part of the overall plan, and wood floors ground the space.
The well-equipped kitchen includes two ranges, double ovens, a microwave, a warming drawer, two freezer drawers, a large refrigerator, and a dishwasher. The bar area features a butler’s pantry and a food pantry. “It has a lot of purposes and an entrance to the dining room, so it’s like a staging area for entertaining,” says Starck. “The kitchen is perfect for entertaining. They obviously want to have fun there.”
Starck, who has been in the business for almost thirty years, says not a year has gone by without a request for white. “White kitchens remain in demand because of their timeless aspect. The cleanness of it and the lack of trend means it will never go out of style,” he says. “What has changed is that they’re not as ‘safe’ as they were ten to twenty years ago with white cabinets and black counters. They have more of an edge.”
Kitchens have become the star of the show. “Thirty years ago, kitchens were a place to chop, prep, and cook. They were not conducive to entertaining, and they were not a family hangout or nucleus,” says Starck. “We migrated away from the compartmental kitchen to an openness that flows so much more. Today, cooking and not going out to eat as much really hit home with the healthy lifestyle, farm-to-kitchen trend.”
Modern-day kitchens make a fashion statement. “Before, it wasn’t a lifestyle room for entertaining family and friends,” says Starck. “Now, it’s like buying that hip dress or that cool car. People want that hip kitchen to be the focal point of the house. It’s like dressy couture; it’s really very important, like the next shoe.”
Despite the modernization, the fact that Starck continues to borrow from the past lets this design endure. “It’s so essential that it’s timeless. I’ve always been proud of projects that look great twenty years later,” he says. And no doubt, it will.