When interior designer Katy Wolfington purchased her 300-year-old Chester County farmhouse, it was a dream come true. “I was raised in Chester County and lived in Philadelphia for a while, but this is where my heart is,” says Katy, whose historic home is just 10 minutes from the house where she grew up.
Her farmhouse kitchen, however, wasn’t exactly a dream. It was a nightmare. “It had been remodeled in the 1970s and 80s and the style was totally out of keeping with the house’s historic character,” she says.
Four years ago, when Katy was doing freelance design for Waterbury Kitchen & Bath, she hired them to bring her kitchen up to date. “I mixed contemporary appliances with late 18th-century details without making it too period. I was going for a timeless look. Nobody will ever have to remodel the kitchen again,” says Katy who says she lives in her kitchen and bedroom.
Impressed by her design skills, creativity, and enthusiasm, Waterbury Kitchen & Bath made Katy an offer she could not refuse. They sold her their well-established Kennett Square business. “It was very important to them to make sure their company was in good hands and I was thrilled,” says Katy.
With 25 years of design experience behind her, Katy proceeded to turn Waterbury Kitchen & Bath into the best-kept secret in Chester County. “Ninety percent of our business is referral,” she explains. “My head carpenter has been working for the company for 30 years and my installers are perfectionists.”
An avid collector of English and Early American antiques and furnishings, Katy gets her inspiration from “thousands of issues of English Home & Garden. I never throw them out” as well as from her annual visits to the U.K. “That look works perfectly here. The typical Chester County house was built in the 1800s and is a classic farmhouse. That’s what we concentrate on.”
Walking into Katy’s shop or viewing their Web site is like opening a box of Godiva chocolates. Everything is so tempting, how do you choose? Refrigerators concealed behind stressed wood panels. Stoves framed in fireplace mantels. Soapstone, wood, or marble countertops. Hand-painted tile back-splashes. A dazzling array of finishes, materials, and design possibilities. That’s where Katy and her staff come in. “We visit the client’s home, discuss their desires, needs, and budget. Then we present a scaled plan and agree on the layout. At this time, we have a general discussion on our client’s preferences for finishes and counters. If the client is comfortable, we proceed. If not, we will redesign to the client’s taste and budget.”
Not all clients own classic farmhouses. Many owners of newer homes also want that historic look. “The goal is to create a kitchen that looks like it has been there forever but with contemporary appliances,” says Katy.
That’s exactly what Melissa Clark had in mind when she visited Waterbury Kitchen & Bath last spring. “My home in Delaware is 21 years old but it is a direct copy of a Williamsburg Colonial. As soon as I walked into Katy’s shop, I knew I was in the right place,” she says. “Katy came to my house then returned with drawings. I liked the fact that I was under no obligation until I approved of her plan.”
The result was new cabinetry that mixed natural wood and painted finishes with cabinets of varying heights. “I didn’t want them to look built-in but more in keeping with Williamsburg style,” Clark says. However, when it came to appliances and functionality, Clark wanted state-of-the-art design. “My daughter said I had to have ‘zones,” I didn’t know what she meant but now I’ve got them. A baking zone, a carving zone, etc.”
Clark is thrilled with a new stove that combines gas burners with an electric oven and a drawer at the bottom that can be used for warming or baking. “My husband is a fabulous cook and he just loves it,” says Clark. Best of all, she adds, installation of the new cabinetry only took five days. “It was a very pleasant, positive experience.”
Julie Gardner of London Groves presented Katy with a different challenge. “My parents built an addition to their mid-1800s home to accommodate my husband, me, and our child. I have more contemporary taste than my parents and I wanted a kitchen that would relate to the main house yet be fun.” The other challenge was the space. Rather than a traditional separate kitchen, the new addition had one great room, combining the kitchen and living area. The style Katy created for the Gardner family mixed cottage “shabby chic” with cleaner, elegant details. “Katy was great to work with and I”m very happy with my kitchen. It really looks nice and gives me a lot of space,” Gardner says.
Making customers happy is easy when your work is your passion. Since completing her design degree at University of the Arts, Katy has spent a lifetime studying finishes and only works with craftsmen who measure up to her high standards. “We work with three cabinet companies, including one in Bucks County. We also have our own custom building shop.” The stressed wood look which gives many of Waterbury Kitchen & Bath designs their distinct appeal is achieved through reclaimed materials or techniques that give new wood a stressed appearance. Design details are not limited to what is available locally. “We have suppliers all over the country. If a client brings a picture of a faucet made in Germany, I”ll get it for them. That’s why the end result is so much fun,” says Katy.
Heading up a small company of only five employees, Katy says, “I could take on more business, but I don”t. I like to get to know my customers and be deeply involved in every job.” By limiting the number of projects, Katy is able to ensure quality. “My head carpenter won’t be running off to another job while you are waiting for your kitchen to be finished.” The average time for a new kitchen is six weeks. And, yes, in addition to kitchens, she designs bathrooms.
Katy Wolfington, President
Waterbury Kitchen & Bath
818 East Baltimore Pike, Kennett Square