Dream Kitchens 2007: Family Recipe

The driving force behind the kitchen renovation in Pamela Coravos’ home was not outdated appliances, but rather a very modern one.

THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND THE KITCHEN RENOVATION IN Pamela Coravos’ home was not outdated appliances, but rather a very modern one.

“The previous owners had installed a new kitchen, but it had an electric glass-top stove,” says Coravos. “We needed a gas range for real cooking with a full range of heats.”

She and her husband, Garrett Stuck, and their two children, 19-year-old Jonathan and 15-year-old Catherine, all love to cook. But when they moved into their Newton Highlands house eight years ago, the family—who have been known to experiment with everything from soufflés to spicy Thai dishes—found the kitchen uninspiring. “We never spent any time in there,” Coravos says. “We like to cook with a wok, and you can’t do that on those glass-top stoves,” Coravos says. “You don’t have sufficient heat.”

But she knew that if her family was going to continue to cook together, a new Wolf six-burner range would only be the beginning. Space constraints were typical for an 1895 Victorian, but patchwork renovations over decades had created a counterproductive traffic flow. “The kitchen was a dead-end,” says Coravos. “It didn’t connect to the rest of the house.”

Local zoning codes prohibited the family from expanding, so Framingham-based architect Lennard Roberts had to work within the house’s original footprint. “Constraints are not always a bad thing,” says Roberts, who worked with Maynard-based contractor Gallagher Home Builders on the project. “I think the real creativity comes when you do have limitations. And what you try to do is turn those constraints into benefits.”

Roberts suggested tearing out an old elevator (installed decades ago) to make room on the first floor for an eating area with plenty of windows. This is where the family now enjoys most of their meals. “It’s not too close to the kitchen,” says Roberts. “It gives people breathing space at a dinner party.”

Windows, milled to blend with the house’s traditional style, were added throughout the space, opening the kitchen to the outdoors. Another nod to the home’s origins is the old-growth pine floors, which would have been typical in a Victorian-era kitchen.

But Roberts was designing a kitchen for very contemporary cooks, so he kept lines uninterrupted and made sure to leave room for sweeping counters, which are made of a hard green marble. In spots, he blended old with new. The cherry molding along the ceiling is more traditional, but the recessed lighting has contemporary flair. There are three types of lighting: the pendants are a decorative, amber-colored glass; the downlights in the soffit shine on the cabinets and down to the countertop; and underneath the wall cabinets, additional lights illuminate the backsplash and counter.

While the gas range was the first must-have, the demands of four cooks in the same workspace dictated other functional touches, too. “The appliances were the easiest thing to pick,” says Coravos. “Because we cook, we knew what we wanted. It was my husband’s idea to have one two-basin sink with two faucets.” The result? They didn’t sacrifice counterspace for a second sink, and two people can work easily at the sink.

“In the ’50s and ’60s, kitchen design was about the most efficient triangle between the sink, refrigerator and stove,” says Roberts. “But if you think about multiple people cooking, that doesn’t work.” His U-shaped design allows room for a whole family to cook together. “I wanted them to be able to do that and not bang into each other,” he says.

The seven-month project required the family to move for three months, but the job was 95 percent complete when they returned on Christmas Eve in 2003. Fittingly, the first meal was a holiday feast to which they all contributed. “We’ve always been cooking together,” says Coravos. And with their dream kitchen, it seems, they always will.