Written by Theresa McTammany
Photographed by Gridley & Graves
Robert Hunt knows a good thing when he sees it. So, when he and partner Van stumbled upon a 1918 Arts and Crafts–style cottage situated along the historic Delaware River Canal, they snapped it up on the spot. "There aren't any homes like it in Bucks County," says the real-estate-savvy Robert, describing the well-proportioned rooms, hand-wrought woodwork and molding—all original features of the 90-year-old home. The kitchen, however, was another story. "It had wall-to-wall carpeting, fake brick walls and zero counter space," he says. "But the house was in good condition, so we weren't that concerned."
Two years after moving in, they tackled the kitchen, planning and sourcing the materials themselves, and letting professionals handle the major work. To simplify things, they stuck to the original 14x16 footprint, converting a former 4x4-foot pantry into a mudroom that would connect to the kitchen. "It was a collaborative effort," Robert says of the U-shaped design, which took three months to finalize. In the meantime, Van researched various appliances. "It was logical for him to do this, since he did the cooking," says Robert.
Their enthusiasm and attention to detail is apparent throughout the well-organized, clutter-free space. A farm table replaces the requisite blocky island. Equipped with pullup seating, it also provides a place for casual meals and splits the space into two distinct work areas. One half is for serious cooking— the kitchen has a 48-inch range with two ovens and a fridge with bottom-mount freezer drawer. On the opposite wall, an extra-deep sink, two dishwashers and recycling center expedite clean-up chores.
For a lighter, less formal look than the dark woodwork and floors that dominate the rest of the house, they chose a classic palette of ivory-painted, recessed-panel cabinets with polished nickel hardware, paired with honed black granite countertops, a subway-tiled backsplash and butter yellow walls. Beneath the carpet and layers of linoleum, they found—surprise!—the original pine plank floors, which they refinished themselves.
Storage also shows ingenuity and charm. A large glass-fronted buffet takes up where the limited wall space leaves off. Felt-lined buffet drawers hold silverware; the large cupboards below allow similar items to be stored together. Clutter is banished; an appliance garage near the sink stows the coffeemaker and toaster.
While the kitchen is adequately stocked with choice amenities, which was the best bargain buy? A deep-basined sink bought online for a fraction of the retail showroom price. "Do your homework beforehand," Robert says. "The discounts are out there—provided you know exactly what you want."