Story by Kelly Weller and photos by Kate Reali
When Gill and John Hart purchased their Olde Towne Daphne home, it was mostly about location. It was the perfect family-friendly neighborhood close to the kids’ school and church, where much of their family life is centered. The Harts loved the big yard and the potential for adding on to the home in the future if they decided to make it their forever home. As their family grew, the Harts found themselves needing more open space to be together and to entertain friends. That’s when they reached out to Suzanne Winston, a local designer who specializes in kitchens, known for her mastery of a crisp, clean aesthetic imbued with thoughtful details true to the soul of each client.
“Before we started the design process, I spent time getting to know them as a family and learning what they valued and how they wanted to live,” says Winston. “I wanted the design to reflect who they are and tell their story. But it also had to relate to the architecture of the space.”
However, working within the confines of an existing structure has its limitations. The space could only give so much, so Winston had to get creative. Her challenge: to open the existing kitchen, add more relaxed seating for guests and improve function… all while infusing some personality into the space and keeping the budget in check.
“The existing galley kitchen was pretty much closed off from the living room and dining room,” says Winston. “That made it difficult for Gill to keep an eye on kids or visit with guests while cooking. I wanted to give them a plan that would solve their immediate space problems but could be expanded with an addition down the road if they decided to stay.”
So, Winston brainstormed with Gill, poring over floor plans and kitchen layouts.She picked up on the Carpenter Gothic details present in the home’s exterior and set about weaving a design story tailor made for the sweet family inside.
Soon, walls came down and a new island with better organization was installed. When it was proving difficult to narrow down a paint color, Winston created the perfect custom shade of green. “It was influenced partly from the client’s eye color and partly because I knew Gill was passionate about preparing healthy meals and I wanted to infuse an organic feel to the space,” she says.
Meanwhile, the small breakfast area became a sitting area, complete with comfy swivel chairs nice enough for guests but covered in fabric sturdy enough for kids. A window seat, outfitted in a washable slipcover, is a favorite spot to read or do homework while mom cooks. Large built-in drawers underneath help contain school papers and craft supplies. The gilded lighting adds a bit of Old-World charm. “Most of our life now happens right in this space” says Hart. “It’s made such a difference in how we live. We love it!”
If you look closer, you will see more subtle details that tell the family’s story – the cross motif in the tile backsplash and iron side table, custom cabinet doors that mimic Gothic church windows, even the trim on the curtains – all giving nod to the things this family holds dear.
*Want more home inspiration? Check out our article on porches.