Never An Empty Nest

Company’s always coming when the house is on the Shore, and a redesigned kitchen makes entertaining a breeze.


When a couple of empty nesters decided to downsize but remain in their Jersey Shore town of Sea Girt, they didn’t plan for much alone time. With two adult children and three grandkids, the homeowners expected the welcome mat to always be out at their shore house, and they needed a design that said “the more the merrier.”

When principal designer Ginny Padula, owner of Town & Country Kitchen and Bath in Red Bank, took on the kitchen reno with colleague Kaila Williams, their mission was more than to match the couple’s modern style in a bright new look. They knew they had the whole gang to please.

Along those lines, while the reno dazzles the eyes with its geometric Carrara marble backsplash, natural walnut-based island and streamlined cabinetry, memories no doubt also have been inspired by the design’s family-friendly features. The homeowner “likes to bake with the grandkids,” says Williams, so voilà!—a mixer to the right of the range swings out and up to avoid heavy lifting. This is just one intuitive feature of the Exeter Collection by Rutt Handcrafted Cabinetry painted in Benjamin Moore’s Nimbus (pale gray).

For easy entertaining, there are also the beverages always ready to refresh in refrigerated drawers built into the island. The homeowner can whip up something appetizing at the island prep sink (Native Trails) with family sitting nearby on leather-look swivel stools with a modern chrome base, from Town & Country, along with the accessories.

In addition, the floor-to-ceiling pantry replaces an obsolete desk. “Nobody really does desks in the kitchen anymore,” explains Padula. “They tend to become just a place to drop stuff.” And what a way to style storage space! The pantry, also by Rutt, in Benjamin Moore’s Iron Ore, lights up whenever the door opens. Bonus: Smart organization provides pullout food storage shelves and a convenient section for barware and serving pieces—the formal dining room is just steps away. Smaller pantries flank both sides of the Sub-Zero stainless-steel fridge, because you can never have too much storage.

Even the layout says “get together and mingle.” “It has a nice flow to it—you can cook; you can entertain,” says Padula of the open floor plan with the kitchen and breakfast area, which offers cushioned window seating beside a “cute bay window.”

Just as important to the couple was casting off the room’s traditional vibe, with its dark cherry- stained cabinets, in favor of an updated style. “We wanted to do something a little brighter than what they had previously,” recalls Williams. “It was fine, but it wasn’t their style.” The jumping-off point for the design proved to be the handcrafted cabinetry from the Exeter Collection based on the classic architectural form of Sir Edwin Lutyens, a pioneer of modernism.

“It’s a unique door style,” says Padula of this cross between traditional and clean modern design with solid brass hardware.

“The client is an engineer, and he was automatically drawn to the detailing of the cabinetry,” Williams explains. Where some might opt for a stainless-steel hood, the designers continued the simple lines of the cabinetry over the Wolf range but added custom corbels for a sweeping effect.

“A stainless-steel hood changes the look,” says Padula. “This keeps it all consistent.” Also, with 9-foot ceilings, the cabinetry could have dominated the room, but the designers accentuated the light-up cabinets with glass.

With a light-gray palette, they had free rein to get dramatic with Carrara marble tile in a geometric pattern on the backsplash, and also to introduce warmth with the walnut island base, which Williams says “shows the grain of the wood.”

For flooring, they decided on large-format porcelain tiles with the illusion of limestone. For lighting, they replaced the chandelier over the previous island with recessed fixtures and antique brass sconces by Circa Lighting on either side of the window.

As the “downsized” kitchen that still had many mouths to feed, this remodel met the mark for both function and style. Wonder what Grandma will be baking up next.

By Donna Rolando

Design by Ginny Padula and Kaila Williams

Photography by Christopher Delaney

Categories: Monmouth Health & Life