By Lisa Frederick
Photography by Jason Varney
Styled by Lisa Russell
In Corrie and Kerwin Mast's kitchen, recipes aren't the only things that have been handed down. As the third generation of Masts to live in their farmhouse in Oley, Pennsylvania, they acquired a cornerstone of family history along with the keys. Even as they planned to update the home for their active family—their children are Lylia, 8, Seth, 6, and Joel, 2—the Masts were committed to honoring its roots.
"Before we made any changes, we walked through the entire house with my 93-year-old grandma so she could tell us everything she remembered about the house and how it used to be," Kerwin says. Adds Corrie, "As we remodeled, we found notes scribbled on the wall under the wallpaper. We photographed them all."
Although they couldn't make extensive changes because of the room's numerous windows and four doorways, they reconfigured the flow of appliances, knocking out a closet to create a niche for the refrigerator and adding double ovens and a five-burner cooktop. A larger island and ample, efficient storage also were high on their wish list.
As owners of Mast Roofing and Construction, the couple hired many of their own employees to handle the work, with Kerwin acting as general contractor. Corrie took charge of the fixtures and finishes, which infuse the kitchen with period flavor. "We paid close attention to matching the new details to the historic elements of the house," she says. "Kerwin spent a lot of time searching for hinges, the right trim and other details at antiques stores and online. It was really important to us."
Surfaces bear out the confluence of old and new—the soapstone countertops, for instance. "They don't have the shiny, newer look of granite, which we didn't think would fit with the feel of the house," Corrie says. "Plus, I love that I can set a hot pot or pan on them without worrying."
Despite its vintage touches, the kitchen is loaded with 21st-century amenities. Lighting tucked beneath cabinets illuminates task areas, and hidden electrical outlets make it easy to use small appliances where they're needed. Soft-close drawers help keep little fingers from being injured. Corrie and Kerwin installed an unobtrusive cooktop vent that funnels cooking fumes outside via the basement. "A big hood would block our view while we cook at the island," Kerwin says. "We can always see our guests or our kids."
The new kitchen is set to become an important layer of the home's ongoing story. "We plan on living here for a very long time, and hope one of our children will own the house next," Kerwin says. "We kept all of that in mind, making things strong enough to stand up to wear and tear for generations to come."
More Photos from Kerwin and Corrie's Kitchen
Perfecting the Past
Whether you're renovating an aging kitchen or want to make yours look a little less brand-spanking-new, here are a few tips for bringing in old-fashioned flair.
- Take stock of what you can salvage. If your home is older, refurbish any kitchen elements that appeal to you, such as wide-plank wood flooring, beadboard wainscoting or a worn enamel sink. Even after you spruce them up, they'll lend a patina that's hard to replicate from scratch.
- Look for retro-style appliances and fixtures. You can find vintage-inspired designs at a wide variety of price points. Or install cabinet panels to camouflage standard appliances so they don't stand out.
- Use antique cabinet pulls, doorknobs and other hardware. You'll probably find a great—and inexpensive—selection at flea markets and antiques dealers. Also, antique hardware often sells for a fraction of the price at online dealers.
- Remove some upper-cabinet doors. Yesterday's kitchens often featured open shelving. Follow that lead, and you'll also have a prime place to display your favorite dishes, glassware or family heirloom pieces.
- Add freestanding furniture. A hutch, corner cabinet or pie safe evokes a sense of the period when case goods were common in kitchens. Similarly, adding bun feet or other furniture-style details to a bank of cabinetry can offset its built-in look and bring in a vintage feel.
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