In This Kitchen Redesign, Traditional Meets Modern

What was once a dysfunctional den is now an amazing kitchen. The homeowners and creators behind this stylishly utilitarian transition take us behind the scenes to see how it all came together.

Debbi and Nick Saffos lived in their Yorktown Heights home for 23 years before they did any major renovations, but when they decided to take the plunge, they really dove in. 

“The previous kitchen was very small, so [the Saffoses] wanted the new one to offer plenty of space to entertain, cook, and hang out,” says Paula Greer, CKD, senior designer at Bilotta Kitchens. 

So the homeowners embarked on what would be a yearlong renovation that changed the footprint of the house and gave them more space to enjoy the kitchen of their dreams. 

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“Our extensive renovation included relocating our kitchen to the area previously dedicated to a den,” Debbi Saffos says. “This not only changed the flow of our home, but it also enabled the architect to create a distinct entrance hallway and a variety of glass door openings that translated to an interesting flow of light, space, and structure.” 

The renovation also included a large island with London Grey polished Caesar Stone countertops and a butcher-block cutting board in natural walnut by Brooks Custom, a built-in banquet with storage, a desk with extra storage; a custom hood, two sets of French doors, and a two-story window that reaches to the loft. Natural light floods the space and provides a counterpoint to the darker finishes of the cabinets, hood, floors, and kitchen table.  

The Renovation

A butcher block was built into the island

Another look at the butcher block.

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If you’re considering a kitchen renovation, you may want to consider not just making the space over but moving it all together. This was the case with the Saffoses’ house, where moving the space created more functionality throughout the entire home. 

“Sometimes moving the kitchen is the best thing [homeowners] can do to maximize and transform the flow of the house,” says Greer. “Make the heart of the home the real heart!”

Architect Robin Prince Zahn agrees that changing the footprint of a house can be a benefit, but she warns that homeowners should understand what they’re getting themselves into. “The homeowner has to consider many issues, such as building department regulations and the additional time and budget that will be needed for the design and construction,” says Prince Zahn, adding that people should not sacrifice functionality for the sake of aesthetics. 

As with any kitchen renovation, you also need to account for the time it takes to get materials. Greer says custom cabinets typically take 8 to 10 weeks to make, once they have the final sign-off, and there are always delays due to weather, permits, etc.

The Design

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A desk/work area was added to a corner of the kitchen. 

The detailed inset behind the cooktop is from Artistic Tile and is a focal point of the room.

The first design element the Saffoses decided on was the perimeter paint color. Everything else stemmed from that. 

The kitchen features two types of cabinets, a trend we’ve seen often  in recent years. Greer says it adds subtle interest to the space.  With that same philosophy, the kitchen deploys two different types of pulls, each in an antique pewter finish.

“Clients should find materials that they love and go from there. I think some clients select things based on the current trends and not necessarily what they love, so it gets old fast,” says Greer. “The [Saffoses] wanted a mix of pulls and knobs, to add an eclectic look to the space.” 

They also wanted practicality, which is why the Saffoses sought a maintenance-free material for the counters. This made Caesar Stone the perfect choice. 

The result is a kitchen the homeowners can enjoy whether it’s just the two of them having morning coffee or a cocktail party with neighbors, friends, and family. 

“What we love best about our kitchen is the open elevation in the working space,” Debbi says. “Robin Prince Zahn’s vision of integrating the loft opens the space and allows the inclusion of an ecclesiastically proportioned two-story window overlooking the watershed.” 

The new kitchen is bigger, brighter and blends a traditional yet modern look and feel, just what the homeowners ordered.  

How To Get The Look


Perimeter and Banquette: 1”-Thick Doors, Maple With a Custom Paint

Island: Wood-Mode, Cherry With Black Forest Finish

Bilotta Collection 
175 Main St.
Mount Kisco
(914) 242-102


Field Tile: 2” x 4”   

Hampton White Crackled Tile

Terra Tile
525 N State Rd
Briarcliff Manor
(914) 923-429


Gris Puplis (Spanish Marble) With Onyx Offset 

(Pinwheel) Accents

Artistic Tile
65 Tarrytown RdTarrytown Rd
White Plains
(914) 422-004

Insert Behind Range

Chateau, Danse Mosaic Blanc Tile

Artistic Tile
65 Tarrytown RdTarrytown Rd
White Plains
(914) 422-004

Butcher Block

Island Butcher Block Cutting Board in Natural Walnut

Brooks Custom
15 Kensico Dr. 
Mount Kisco
(914) 244-5432


Water Décor in Brushed Nickel NYC Collection

341 S Central Ave
(914) 740-1800


Top Knobs #M923 Pewter Antique Edwardian Collection Bow Handle Pull, $10.70 and #M947 Pewter Antique Edwardian Collection Bead Mushroom Knob, $15.90

JWH Designs
1111 Boston Post Rd.
(914) 967-6020


Vintage Pedestal Table/Pub Table in Brown Maple, $966

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