A husband-and-wife design/build team outfitted the space with unique woodwork and motifs of the Arts & Crafts movement.
The upstate lake had long been her family’s vacation spot. When Phyllis Cavaliere built a new house at the site, she asked Paul Kelly and Sherrie Hunter to take on the kitchen. The artisan couple does it all: design and construction, fine woodworking, metal fabrication, glass work, and finishes.
“Actually, I’d just had a baby,” says Sherrie, “so on this job I didn’t do as much. Paul did virtually everything—he’s a little crazy that way.” When pressed, Sherrie recalls that she applied finishes, designed the upstairs bath, carved a few panels, and did the welding on the stove hood—but that’s all. The two operate out of a small workshop on the edge of a creek in a tiny village of Schoharie County, New York.
This one is a serious cooking kitchen. “Phyllis is a great Italian cook who feeds you anytime she sees you,” says Sherrie. “We gave her a ‘baking department’ with a countertop just the right height for kneading dough and so on.” The owner brought her own strong ideas about the kitchen’s layout and workflow. She wanted to accommodate many people in the space without its feeling crowded. “Paul did many drawings—beautiful drafting—until we all felt we had the right combination of elements. Then we continued to make revisions as we built.”
The architect for the house provided Paul with a basic layout, but he did not plan the functional arrangements of rooms. That gave Paul latitude to envision the kitchen as an open room tucked into a corner behind posts and beams that run throughout the first level. The result is a manageable space that feels large and uncramped.
Paul Kelly and Sherrie Hunter are fans of the Arts & Crafts movement and of Japonisme. “In a kitchen, we have to look for ways to marry function with natural elements and organic design,” Sherrie says. “The Arts & Crafts approach worked.”
While the couple used some of the movement’s familiar design conventions and motifs, their interpretations are specific to this house. The “arrow” inlays are trees, a reference to the tamaracks that line the drive to the house. The beautiful lumber throughout is quarter-sawn mahogany, with maple inlays. Butterfly joints on the pantry and refrigerator cabinets are functional decoration, in the spirit of Arts & Crafts joinery. Boards were carefully selected and matched throughout our kitchen.
For the mosaic tile frieze on the large pantry cabinet, Paul combined a grid with a curvilinear shape, inspired by Scottish designer Charels Rennie Mackintosh. The stove hood, made by Paul and Sherrie, is mild steel witih a metal coating in a copper finish.
Windows in the new house are by Andersen in their Frank Lloyd Wright-series Wichita pattern. To inexpensively dress up the cabinet glass, Paul and Sherrie used a product called DecraLed, a system of colored films and “leading.”
“The homeowners, Phyllis and Richard, are the nicest people you’ll ever meet,” says Sherrie. “It was absolutely a labor of love to make this kitchen work for them. Paul always puts his whole heart into his work.”
- Design/Build (including custom cabinets, stove hood, art glass) Sherrie Hunter & Paul Kelly, North Blenheim, NY: (518) 827-3138
- WindowsAndersen Windows & Doors:andersenwindows.com
- LumberHogan Hardwoods & Moulding, Ruston, LA: hoganhardwoods.com
- CountertopsTyphoon Gold Granite, Brazil
- Lighting Mini Mission pendants in amber, antique bronze by Wilmette Lighting:wilmettelighting.com
- HardwareLee Valley Tools:leevalley.com
- Sink Shaws single-bowl fireclay apron sink by Rohl:rohlhome.com
- StoveWolf Appliance:wolfappliance.com
- Copper FinishMetal Finishes Plus:metalfinishesplus.com