Fit for the Family
It took this couple years to come up with a sophisticated, colorful kitchen that can handle a crowd
There's truth to the old saw that you should live in a house for at least a year before embarking on a major renovation. But there's risk as well: Too often that year stretches to several. For Jim and Nadine Bilotta, make that seven. That's how long it took them to tackle the fake-wood cabinets, laminate counters, and vinyl flooring—not to mention the freezer whose in-the-door shelf required a bungee cord to keep items in place—that came with their 1930s house in Mamaroneck, New York. The delay is especially long considering that Jim's family business, Bilotta Kitchens, sells high—end kitchen cabinets. "People would come to the house expecting a gorgeous kitchen," says Jim. "Their jaws would drop in shock."
The kitchen that emerged after a major renovation reflects Nadine's love of cooking and color, and Jim's requirement that it be different from what he saw every day. Working with designer Randy O'Kane, the couple doubled the room's square footage and brightened the space with a palette of green and yellow. Now there's plenty of room for dinner with their two daughters, 12 and 15, as well as extended family who stop by—both husband and wife come from big Italian families where "everyone has to participate in meal preparation," says Nadine. "It's open, it's friendly, and we can have 22 people in the kitchen without feeling crowded," she says. "I'll never figure out what took us so long."
In the old space, the worn-out fridge was awkwardly stuck in a corner near a now-relocated back door.
Update and add square footage to make room for the whole gang.
What They Did
1. Added and borrowed space. The homeowners tore off the back of the house, which ended approximately where the range stands today, and bumped out 6 feet. They also gained space on the range side of the room by borrowing from a bedroom (which was relocated upstairs) and a dining room.
2. Maximized natural light. Keeping wall cabinets to a minimum along the exterior wall that houses the sink allowed for lots of windows, including units that wrap the two corners.
3. Included his and hers sinks. He's a leftie, she's a rightie. One sink has the faucet at
the far left corner, the other at the right, so the couple could cook and clean up together. "It's the
one thing Jimmy insisted on," says Nadine Bilotta.
4. Grounded pale colors with deep neutrals. "The black granite counters and teak table top gave the kitchen weight and sophistication," says kitchen designer Randy O'Kane, who thought the kitchen's green-and-yellow scheme would be too pastel otherwise.
5. Created a family table. The teak table built on as an extension of the island, which is also topped with teak, is now the spot where the family of four gathers every day for meals.
6. Became pen pals with Giuseppe. Over the course of 15 months, Nadine Bilotta wrote to Giuseppe Tinti, an artisan in Venice, Italy, whom a friend had met. She commissioned Tinti to create the one-of-a-kind Murano-glass pendant lights that now hang in the kitchen.
Colorful cabinet and tile accents create a warm, handcrafted look.
1 Turned legs that mimic those supporting the teak table (but on
a smaller scale) and are set into a wood frame add an architectural accent
to Hawthorne Yellow sink cabinets from the Bilotta Collection.
2 Curved brackets on the sides of the upper cabinets, built-in display shelves, and a beadboard backsplash add character to glass-front units in Sherwood Green.
3 A custom built hutch with opaque-glass doors that measures 64 inches wide by 80 inches tall is the main food pantry in the kitchen. It was painted on site, given a base coat the same yellow as the cabinets,
and topped with an antiqued finish to give it more of a furniture look.
4 Scroll-style pewter pulls and a beaded detail add decorative interest to the pantry drawers, which hold snacks for the kids.
5 High-gloss mosaic tiles create a basket-weave effect inset amid sanded glass 4x4s on the backsplash above the stainless steel range.