The Anatomy of a Kitchen
What’s goes into creating a dream kitchen? It takes time, vision and, help from the pros to pull all the pieces together into a kitchen that’s suited for the homeowner's needs. We take a look at how two kitchens in Lancaster and York achieved this feat.
Photography by Donovan Roberts Witmer
The Kitchen of Kathleen Gerbert and Bryan Yingling | Lancaster, PA
For the first time in recent memory, Kathleen Gerbert and her husband, Bryan Yingling, were anticipating leaving their weekend home in Chesapeake City, MD, for an even more familiar destination—their recently renovated School Lane Hills home.
“We spend most of our summers away. We kept thinking, ‘we really should go home and enjoy our new space,’” says Kathleen.
The nine-month renovation/addition expanded existing and added new living spaces including a new bedroom, pantry, office and more. The showpiece: A light-drenched, 660-square-foot kitchen thoughtfully designed to give this busy family the amenities, space and style they craved.
Kathleen and Bryan are physicians at May Grant Associates, where they first met 25 years ago. Today, their lives are full with the activities of their two daughters, boating, their involvement with the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra and their mutual love of cooking.
The couple had mulled over the idea of an addition for several years. The home’s original kitchen was on the smaller side, so mealtimes and homework often spilled into the dining room for the family of four. Cooking together was challenging in the former kitchen’s smaller footprint.
“We wanted to have a kitchen table where the kids could sit and do their homework and still have my ear while my hands work in the kitchen,” Kathleen says.
Today, the sophisticated yet comfortable kitchen boasts a roomy workspace where Kathleen and Bryan can cook alongside each other while entertaining guests or catching up on the girls’ day. Anchored by an oversized island with comfortable seating, the space beckons guests to pull up a seat and see what’s cooking.
The project is a culmination of the time and talents of several local professionals, builders and craftsmen whom Kathleen carefully sourced. Architect Tom Weaver got the couple “off the fence” and designed the plans for the new addition.
“Everything that was on my ‘needs’ list was there, plus a new bedroom on the second floor, which wasn’t part of our original plans. He made everything seem practical and doable,” says Kathleen.
Having decided on custom cabinetmaker Christopher Ness of Denver to design, fabricate and install the cabinets, Kathleen sought out a kitchen designer who could give and take in the creative process. She found the ideal match in Eileen Riddle from Lititz-based Kitchens by Eileen.
“Eileen brought us the floor plan we could envision ourselves living in and set us on the right path,” says Kathleen.
Riddle designed a floor plan that broke up the large space by incorporating several “zones” dedicated to various tasks and functions, including a work zone, clean-up area, entertaining space, beverage bar and eating space.
“The size of the kitchen was quite expansive, so I worked to create the nooks and spaces that kept it comfortable while still allowing it to be free-flowing from one space to the next,” says Riddle.
With the floor plan complete, Kathleen worked closely with Ness on the cabinet design fine-tuning, a process that gave her a deep appreciation for the skill of cabinetmaking. “He’s really an artist at heart. He went through the design inch by inch, then built and installed the cabinets himself.”
To give the white cabinets an authentic finish that was easier to touch up over the years, Ness suggested a process that involves spraying and then hand-painting the cabinets. In creating kitchen cabinetry, Ness aims for an integrated look by picking up on details in the millwork throughout the home.
“I feel like success is when the kitchen fits the space and looks like it’s been there the whole time,” comments Ness.
For the range, the couple decided on a 38” BlueStar made in Reading, PA. Given their culinary passion, the couple thoroughly researched the appliance, even making a trip to the factory to learn more. Kathleen’s practical take on buying local: “I like that if I need a part or something repaired, the factory’s right there.”
The range is complemented by an eye-catching, industrial-style hood that Kathleen discovered in a magazine. To help her with interior design choices, Kathleen hired Henrietta Heisler of Henrietta Heisler Interiors, Inc. With Heisler’s help, Kathleen found a local welder with an artistic flair to fabricate and install the stunning stainless steel hood.
Appliances are seamlessly integrated: A drawer microwave tucked into the island, a paneled-front dishwasher in the clean-up area, built-in speed and wall ovens adjacent to the range. The paneled Miele refrigerator is just that—a refrigerator. Opting to house the freezer in the pantry made sense to Kathleen, who found she always had the need for more room and better accessibility for refrigerated foods and less for frozen.
Small appliances are accessible but kept out of sight with appliance garages set back into the next room on either side of the range. A built-in paper towel holder in the island helps keep the space clutter-free.
The island provides a “friendly barrier” from the workspace. It’s outfitted with a five-centimeter-thick slab of Valley Gold Vein, a domestically sourced marble, and a deep island sink for food prep. For the surrounding countertops, Kathleen chose Cambria quartz in Devon. A Carrera marble backsplash in oversized subway tiles lines the wall of the workspace, while a charming basket-weave variation lends character to the clean-up area.
Adjacent to the island, a beverage station/entertainment area provides easy access to drinks and a view of the flat-screen TV. The area is perfect for Bryan, who, according to Kathleen, enjoys the variety of utilizing a whole range of coffee-making devices—from an espresso maker to a standard percolator.
The room’s clean whites and grays pair perfectly with the elegant, warm, wide-plank American walnut hardwood floors. The corner of the kitchen features a round table with seating and tall windows that bathe the entire space in light. Cheery yellow window panels inject energy into the space and provided design inspiration for the entire room, according to Heisler.
“Everything came together around this beautiful fabric,” says Heisler. “Kathleen always explored her options, but she knew right away what she liked or didn’t. She was really terrific that way.”
Now beginning to settle into their new space, the family is looking forward to the holidays. “I can’t wait for the holidays—to have everyone here milling around and a big turkey in that oven.”
The Danyo’s Kitchen | York, PA
Lynne Danyo considers herself something of a “kitchen person.” The wife, mother and retired investment broker has a lifelong passion for cooking and has remodeled several kitchens in the homes she’s lived in over the years. So when she married and moved in with husband Joe, a retired orthopedic surgeon, in 2002 it was only a matter of time until the small original kitchen got a whole new look.
With a combined family that includes seven children and 20 grandchildren, holidays can become quite busy in their Wyndham Hills home. Given their large brood, the Danyos wanted a place where they all could convene and Lynne could cook and entertain simultaneously.
“Everything happens in the kitchen,” says Lynne. “I would get stuck in the kitchen by myself while everyone was off talking somewhere else. And that’s kind of an unfriendly feeling.”
After making some initial cosmetic updates to the original kitchen that fell short of providing them the space and functionality they needed, the Danyos decided a major overhaul was in order. They originally envisioned removing a wall that separated the kitchen from the breakfast space to give the kitchen more room. That was until they were introduced to the ingenious AGA range that a friend had imported from England.
“It really was so special,” says Lynne. “Plus, I wanted a stove that works when the electricity doesn’t,” says Lynne.
To help them create a space that addressed all their needs, the Danyos hired Michael Prince of Glen Rock-based Prince Kitchens. Given the size and unique needs of the AGA range, Prince set out designing the kitchen around the culinary showpiece.
“There’s always something that anchors the project, and that was the AGA,” says Prince. “It requires a chimney, which means that it needed to be positioned on an outside wall.”
Working closely with the Danyos, Prince learned that they needed extensive storage for their combined collection of place settings, china and various other items. They also enjoyed most of their meals at the kitchen island. To achieve all of these goals, Prince suggested they combine the existing breakfast nook, laundry room and mudroom into a 600-square-foot kitchen.
The AGA range—a 2,000 lb. cast iron oven and range—was shipped in pieces and assembled at the residence over the course of two days. Powered by a gas burner, the AGA range remains at constant set temperatures in four separate ovens for warming, simmering, baking and roasting. It also includes two large burner plates and two standard gas plates. In addition to making cooking more convenient, the consistent temperature throughout the oven promotes even cooking and more flavorful results.
To learn how to make an array of soups, puddings, omelets and more, Lynne traveled to AGA headquarters in England for an in-depth cooking course. “It wasn’t a necessity—there are certainly books you could read to learn how to use it. But it was a lot of fun.”
The residual heat from the AGA is ideal for supplementing the Danyos’ home heating needs throughout the fall, winter and early spring. The appliance is turned off during warmer months and the couple uses an outside grill and traditional oven in its place.
The kitchen’s three-tier island was Prince’s creative solution to give the Danyos adequate space for food prep, mealtimes and entertaining. The lowest portion of the island acts as a table where the couple can enjoy meals. The center portion of the island is designed for workspace. And the tallest end includes a microwave neatly tucked just below the countertop and serves as a high-top gathering place for guests that’s outside of Lynne’s work area.
The countertops, a black exotic granite, were an easy choice for the couple. “It’s gorgeous,” says Lynne. “I can just picture a chunk of this beautiful rock falling off a hillside somewhere in Brazil.”
Adjacent to the island, a wall of pantries was installed to provide the Danyos plenty of storage space. The raised, cherry-paneled cabinets, also used throughout the kitchen, exude warmth and fit the tradition of the rest of the home.
“We went for a cabinet finish that works well in the past and future. It’s not something that will look dated,” says Prince.
Prince incorporated appliance garages, pullout spice racks and a mixer lift into the cabinetry design to provide easy accessibility and convenience. A matching paneled Viking dishwasher and refrigerator are inconspicuous in the space.
With most of the wall space devoted to cabinetry, the former kitchen’s baseboard heating was no longer an option. The solution: A special engineered Maple flooring with radiant water heat.
Throughout the room, copper accents add charm and build on the timeless elegance of the kitchen. Above the stovetop, a decorative accent display pairs ceramic and copper tiles. During a trip to Colorado, Joe picked up the copper pot rack that hangs above the island, and other pieces were added during a subsequent trip to Florence, Italy. Opposite the workspace, black Windsor-style chairs from Great Windsor Chairs in Lititz provide ample seating around the island.
“I love the fact that we can have friends over and enjoy dinner around the big island. It’s nice, it feels comfortable and we’re just really proud of it,” says Joe.
Prince also incorporated an entertainment wall with cabinetry to house their flat screen TV and provide ample storage. The nook includes a breakfast table where the Danyos can enjoy breakfast overlooking Lynne’s stunning native garden that attracts a wide array of birds, butterflies and bees.
“I love that it’s so livable. Frankly, we could probably live only in the kitchen and leave the rest of the house alone,” says Lynne with a smile.