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Written by Karen Marley

Peppered with art studios and filled with turn-of-the-century homes, North Buffalo is replete with a sense of history and stately architecture. Homes here are rich with traditional character and craftsmanship. In one residence, the homeowners lovingly integrated their contemporary preferences while respecting the home’s distinguished personality. Modern furniture, white trim, and clean-cut, clutter-free spaces integrate beautifully with original pine floorboards, built-in cabinetry and bookshelves, a brick fireplace, thick baseboards and crown molding. That is, until you get to the kitchen.

The Awkward Area
Remodeled in the ‘90s, the kitchen lacked the character and quality found throughout the home. Not only were heritage elements covered up but the layout did not work for the homeowner’s family lifestyle.
   “It just felt super disconnected from the rest of the house,” says Raelyn Woltz, Interior Designer and owner of West End Interiors who specializes in modern classic interiors.

Design Challenge
Anyone who appreciates the enduring artistry and quality of turn-of-the century design but gravitates to a cleaner, fresher style understands exactly what the homeowners were facing.
   Woltz, who worked closely with Amish Kitchen Gallery, was charged with making the kitchen modern yet meaningful; updating the functionality while acknowledging the bones and feel of the older home. Woltz got it. She explains, “You just can’t go into the kitchen of an old, North Buffalo home and spec out Euro cabinets and ultra-modern furniture and fixtures.”
   The perfect blend was found in revealing and using the kitchen’s architectural elements with a modern twist on classic essentials. Mid-century and schoolhouse elements complete the meshing of styles.

Statement Elements
Approximately seven feet of wall between the kitchen and dining room was removed to open the space for a lighter, airier feel. White cabinets, walls, and backsplash emphasize the kitchen’s brighter, more sophisticated personality.
   A basement-to-roof brick chimney, previously coveredby old cabinets and drywall, is now exposed, marking the areas between the kitchen and dining room and anchoring the space with a textured, more organic yet industrial element. On the floor, huge, charcoal gray, 20” x 20” hex tiles assert a sleek aesthetic while acknowledging the more traditional hex mosaic penny-sized tiles that are common in Buffalo houses.
   Bright white, handmade subway tiles mix texture that plays off the brick with a crisp, modern color. The new oversized island includes bookshelves to provide a catchall for cookbooks, measuring cups, tablets and more. A large overhang provides eating space. Countertops are a leathered granite in a matte finish.
   “I didn’t want the island to feel like a skating rink,” says Woltz.
   Overhead pendant lights reminisce of a mid-century schoolhouse, a style carried into the storage closet lockers. The closet’s bench seat was made from the removed, old wall studs.

Creative Conversions
Too small for a pantry but not big enough for cabinets, a strange “dead” space, formerly occupied by a never-used kitchenette table is now a wet bar. In a brilliant move, Woltz installed black, powder-coated steel shelves across the window that play off the schoolhouse feel.
   A small nook between the refrigerator and tiled wall is now a coffee station and strategically placed cubbies below the overhead cabinet work as a mail catch. Window trim is a simple frame of quarter-sawn oak, which ties in with the
mail catch.
   In proudly revealing its heritage while embracing a modern style, the kitchen has become a contemporary classic that will retain its beauty and functionality for decades to come. And the owners? They love it.

Amish Kitchen Gallery
West End Interiors

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