A Family-Friendly Kitchen

J.L. Purcell Architects help a couple renovate with function and style in mind.

The dynamics of Marcie and Jayson Dunbar’s family life inspired a large-scale kitchen renovation in their stately 1930s Georgian Colonial-style home. This energetic, growing family with five children required space to spread out, cook, bake, and do crafts and homework. They needed a warm, comfortable space where they could be together.

Located in Walpole, the Dunbars’ spacious home has more than five thousand square feet of living space, plus a large front and back yard with a built-in swimming pool—plenty of room for a family of seven. However, the kitchen was tiny and outdated. After Marcie and Jayson purchased and moved into the home in 2006, they knew one goal was to renovate the kitchen into a larger space that would function well for the family, yet retain the traditional style and features of the rest of the home. Renovation began the next year.

“We had a bigger vision to update and expand the space, to improve the function and work flow in a way that works with the architectural moldings and style and elegance of the rest of the house,” Marcie says. “We wanted something fresh and current to accommodate a young and energetic family.” So she and Jayson hired Jay Purcell, of J.L. Purcell Architects, AIA, in Peterborough for the renovation.

Designing with family in mind

From the onset, Purcell created an elegant design with function and family in mind.

“Marcie had a clear vision for creating a kitchen that really lived up to the graciousness of the whole house,” he says. High on the wish list was to have plenty of space, counters and work areas for a large family.

“I like to cook,” Marcie says, “and one of the first questions Jay had for me was, ‘When you are in the kitchen, where are your children?’ Well, the kids were often at the kitchen table, doing homework, crafts. We’re together, talking. We wanted to make this space so the kids could participate in cooking.”

Reaching Marcie’s goals required the demolition of the home’s addition that was built in the 1970s as well as removing a vertical brick column in the old kitchen space.

“We took it away and started from scratch,” Purcell says. This redesign allowed for an open-concept kitchen and an incorporated family room.

The renovated space includes an updated butler’s pantry; two islands and two ovens; and floor-to-ceiling, custom cabinets with an integrated refrigerator and freezer, a homework and crafts nook, and more storage. The Wolfe six-burner stove features a remote-controlled fan that pops up when used and vents outside through the basement.

The kitchen opens to a small family room area with double doors that lead to the back garden and swimming pool. The kitchen is also connected to a more formal dining room.

“To have a family space adjacent to the kitchen is critical for today’s lifestyle,” Purcell says. “We worked out a scheme that fit their needs more by creating space for working and entertaining, and a study nook for the children. It’s nice for Marcie to have her own work area but still be able to see the kids. The space was designed for multiple activities.”

 “Jay was looking out for our needs and how we function when the kids are home from school,” Marcie says. At the time of the renovation, the five Dunbar children ranged in age from two through eighteen.

Tradition and harmony

Homeowners Jayson and Marcie Dunbar cook together in their new kitchen.  “I could build a dream kitchen here,” Marcie said when she first saw the house. “The space really drew me in.”

The homeowners chose maple cabinets from Crown Point Cabinetry in Claremont, painted in a traditional off-white color, with a molding style and color that integrated with the rest of the home’s woodwork. New oak hardwood flooring, stained to match the adjoining formal dining room, was installed throughout the kitchen and family room. The granite countertops—in the color of New Venetian Gold—are from NBC Solid Surfaces in Springfield, Vermont.

A large, granite-topped kitchen island houses the ovens for a baking and mixing station, enough space to handle the biggest school bake sales and holiday cookie platters.

Of course, modern, efficient appliances and a great workspace for cooking were top of the list. Marcie’s mother—Averill Larsen, a professional chef in Vermont—served as inspiration.

“I have had my dream kitchen in my mind for many years,” Marcie says. “I’ve learned so much from my mom that I always knew what I wanted in my kitchen to make it function when I’m cooking. It’s great that she thinks the new kitchen is fabulous.”

Purcell carefully planned lighting for the space. “One of the most important things about lighting is making sure everything is dimmable with different switching, having different areas planned out for independent dimming,” he says. “That allows for a kitchen to get beyond the basic mood of either being too bright or not lit enough.” Amber-colored fixtures for pendant lighting over the kitchen island bring warmth to the space,
he adds.

Overall, the result is a family-friendly, high-functioning yet elegant space that retains the traditional character and elegance of the original architectural style.

“This is a very gracious kitchen,” Purcell says. “It fits the scale of the house.”   

Categories: Architecture and Interiors, Kitchen Designs