Lois Sperow moved from a Victorian house to a smaller, historic house on Lombard Street.
She wanted a sleek, modern kitchen-dining space where she could showcase her antiques and still accommodate large family groups for dinner. Her new house is 2,500 square feet plus a yard, but the kitchen needed a complete rehab.
Her wish came to pass last year with a renovation accomplished courtesy of designer Omar Zaater and HomeTech Renovations of Fort Washington. The redo won a 2015 Contractor of the Year Award from the Bucks-Mont Chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry in the residential kitchen remodeling category costing $60,000 to $100,000.
"I moved from Chestnut Hill on West Moreland Avenue, and I had decorated my Victorian house in a way that went with that theme," Sperow said. Widowed and raising two daughters, "I had a lot of clutter."
With her daughters now grown and having their own children, she wanted to downsize and move into a house with a more contemporary style. Also, she could walk to work.
Still, she had her beloved china and antique furniture. Could she meld the two themes?
"I collect plates from China, Austria and all over the world, and while they're beautiful, my designer explained that in the new home, I wasn't allowed to junk it up," she said, laughing.
"The bigger your house is, the more stuff you collect."
HomeTech's Dave Cerami crafted a custom wall unit with glass doors and under-cabinet lighting so her collectibles could be seen stylishly.
Sperow also kept a heavy Flemish armoire-breakfront dating to the 1870s that "was too big for an 8-foot ceiling, so they built higher ceilings in the new home to accommodate it. I'm between two worlds here."
To start, her contractors knocked down a long hallway wall and opened up the kitchen with an exposed staircase to the second floor. They reorganized the layout, as well. Because Sperow grew up in a family of builders and had already renovated her Chestnut Hill house, she knew what to expect and what to fix.
"The range didn't vent anywhere before, and the dishwasher was across the kitchen from the sink. It made no sense," she said.
She chose Thermador appliances from Kieffer's in Lansdale, which was having a "one-two-free" deal. "If I bought a gas range and an oven, I got the vent for free." Buying a refrigerator got her the dishwasher free, with her total appliance budget ending up at about $13,000.
Sperow bought quartz countertops and porcelain and glass tile for the backsplash and floors from Garden State Tile at 24th and Walnut Streets. Grohe sink and faucet fixtures came from Ferguson Bath Kitchen & Lighting in King of Prussia. She especially craved the lighting underneath her custom wenge hardwood cabinets.
To save money, she did the staining on the floating stairs and the kitchen railing overlooking her backyard, darkening the wood to match the cabinetry.
She also saved money by painting the entire kitchen, walls and ceiling, herself, in Sherwin Williams' Eminence bright white. "It's flat white paint, not washable, but I did it all myself."
For lighting over the modern dining table, she brought an antique crystal chandelier from her old house.
"I didn't spend a lot on furniture and stuck with modern style for the chairs and table," Brazilian hardwood she bought at West Elm for about $700. She added picnic-table-style benches for seating.
"It was a huge change for me after spending a lot more on a formal dining set in my old home," she said. "Modern, it was explained to me, means lower in height, out of the line of sight, so that it's invisible to the eye. You're not supposed to see it. So that's what I went for with the kitchen," including white tile floors and the see-through floating staircase.
Her must-haves included the island and lots of natural light, perfect given that a skylight already looked out into her and the neighbors' yards.
"I wanted the warmth of my own personal history," Sperow said.