In the mid 1800s, when the Yeager farmhouse was built from sturdy Chester County stone and cedar, the kitchen was a utilitarian space where folks spent as little time as possible. So when John and Kelli Yeager moved into John’s ancestral home in Phoenixville, they were met with a kitchen stuck in a dark, cramped time warp. “I’ve always had small kitchens with not enough storage and very little room for guests to hang out in,” says Kelli. “One of my biggest pet peeves was lack of counter space.”
That explains the welcoming, expansive centerpiece of a renovation project that offers comfort and function to the young couple and their three small children.
Chester Springs-based architect Joshua Sukenick drew up plans to take the home’s interior down to its stone walls, opening and reconfiguring the floorplan to suit a modern family. To realize their vision of a farmhouse kitchen with an industrial edge, the Yeagers turned to interior designer Liz Walton. She came up with a plan that would seamlessly join the original 150-year-old home with a new wing that includes the kitchen and a massive great room on the first floor and children’s bedrooms on the second. “We kept the exposed exterior stone when we created the home’s rear addition,” Walton says. “The exposed duct work for the stove’s ventilation hood is also visible.”
Before Walton started planning, she sat down with the Yeagers to determine their needs. “We interview our clients before we present a design, survey the space and take inventory of their kitchenware,” the designer says. “We even measure their favorite dishes to ensure the cabinets have enough depth, so everything fits comfortably and has a place.”
Kelli wanted lots of space, but with an efficient, cook-friendly layout that minimizes steps. “I hoped for a prep sink, professional-style stove and other appliances that were close together so I didn’t need to move all over the kitchen to prepare meals,” she says. “I also wanted a large pantry and organized drawers in my cabinetry.”
Walton’s design divided the space into informal work zones: food preparation, cooking, eating, cleaning and entertaining. She analyzed the way the owners live to facilitate flow between spaces. Her detailed floorplans even show how far appliance doors swing open.
“We created a beverage center at the end of the island that opens into the walkway of the family room and away from the kitchen prep and cooking area, so guests can help themselves during gatherings and not interfere with meal preparation,” she says.
Liz Walton’s design divided the space into informal work zones: food preparation, cooking, eating, cleaning and entertaining. She analyzed the way the owners live to facilitate flow between spaces.
The designer also guided the Yeagers toward durable surfaces that can withstand the wear and tear of kids and the couple’s busy life in the family business, Yeagers Farm and Market. They opted for hardworking, attractive quartz countertops that look like natural soapstone and granite. Vinyl cork-backed waterproof and scratch-proof plank flooring was laid throughout the home.
An oversized island with seating for five was designed to accommodate a large family. It also provides extra counter space for craft projects and assembling essential oil kits. “John and I thought we wanted a tiered counter, but we didn’t realize the impact that would have on my cooking space,” Kelli says. “Liz helped us to determine that our island should be one large flat surface.”
An important part of the equation was deciding what to splurge on. “It makes sense to spend more money on timeless showpieces like the big Currey & Company light fixtures over the island and the Shaws farmhouse sink,” Walton says.
The designer also encouraged the Yeagers to invest in high-quality cabinetry in a timeless finish. “I thought I wanted gray cabinets, but Liz believed a darker brown wood would be a better option for our farmhouse kitchen,” Kelli recalls. “It was classier and wouldn’t go out of style.”
Their final choice: custom solid wood cabinets made from maple with a coffee-stain finish. The upper cabinets were installed a few inches higher than standard to provide more space for large counter-top appliances. A variety of moldings in various shapes and sizes add dimension and character to the space, including various options to conceal outlets and under-cabinet lighting.
After several years in their kitchen, the Yeagers can attest that meticulous planning yields dividends over the long haul. “I love that there’s not a lot of clutter. And most items fit into drawers or cabinets, so it looks relatively clean all of the time,” says Kelli. “I have plenty of space for making meals, and clean-up is a breeze with the two sinks,” Kelli says. “It’s true—everyone always hangs out in the kitchen.”
The designer encouraged the Yeagers to invest in high-quality cabinetry in a timeless finish.