Kitchen Remodel Contest

Featuring photograhy by Gus Contavero

We asked homeowners throughout the county to send in before and after pictures of their kitchen-remodeling projects; nearly 50 homeowners did. It was tough choosing, but here are the six that wowed us most.

A Swedish Sensibilty

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It was the birth of twins, now seven, that was the impetus to renovate, home- owner Kerstin Lindh says; the original Briarcliff Manor kitchen could handle a family of four—six, no way. She and her husband, Lars, kept the footprint of the original kitchen, but bumped it out to gain an additional 250 square feet. Originally from Sweden, Kerstin and Lars knew they wanted a sleek, clean, modern look with lots of natural light, so they used very few upper cabinets, maximizing the storage in the two center islands. “I use the smaller one as a workspace—making the kids lunches and snacks,” she says. “And our entire family can sit around the large island. The new space makes it so easy to entertain.” The only hesitation they had was about the size of the range hood. “Michael, our designer, said we needed a forty-eight inch hood to balance the space and that seemed way too large,” Kerstin says. “But it turns out he was exactly right.”



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Designer: Michael Foppiano, Majestic Kitchens & Baths, 700 Fenimore Rd, Mamaroneck (914) 381-1302;; Cabinets: Apple Valley; Appliances: Electrolux from Leibert’s Royal Green; Countertops: White tops are quartz Silestone (Zodiac Snow White); brown is CaesarStone; Glass tiles: Oceanside, plus multi-colored mosaic, from Ceramic Design, Westport, CT; Lighting: WAC and Tech Lighting.


From Rustic to Fantastic

Diane and Christopher Prendergast of New Rochelle like modern and open—their original kitchen with its old pine cabinets and limited counter space was neither. So the two downloaded Ikea’s kitchen planning software and went to work. “When my husband suggested using Ikea cabinets, I said, ‘No way,’ until an architect client told me they were great,” Diane admits. “I must have designed twenty-five kitchens before we agreed on this plan.” The entire process took about six months, partly because the couple assembled and installed the cabinets themselves. “I would put together two cabinets a night,” Diane says, “and then my husband would hang them. It was a lot of work, but worth it in the end.” The couple today can entertain as many as 70 guests in their new open floor plan. “We have some great holiday parties.”


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Cabinets and Range Hood: Ikea; Appliances: All GE Profile, except the Bosch dishwasher; Tile: American Tile (no longer in business); Countertops: Granite from Westchester Marble & Granite in Mamaroneck.


The Bronze Age

The original 1987 kitchen in Elissa and David Leftkowitzes’ Pleasantville home, while well made, was ultra-contemporary and didn’t blend with the design aesthetic of the renovations in the rest of the house. “I had a good idea of what I wanted for my new kitchen: a large open space for family and entertaining, the stonework to connect the kitchen to the family room, the colors and appliances,” says Elissa Lefkowitz. Indeed, it was the Jenn-Air oil-rubbed bronze appliances that inspired the entire color scheme. “I hadn’t seen anything like it before—it has a striation in the finish that is very cool.” Words of wisdom to future remodelers? “It’s important to remember that functionality is as important as the aesthetics. Be aware of how you live your life; if you have kids, make sure you work in kid-friendly features.”



Kitchen Designer: Jason Landau, Amazing Spaces LLC, 30 Fountain Rd, Briarcliff Manor, (914) 239-3725,; Contractor: Joe St. George from J III Contracting; Interior Designer/consultant: Constance Hall, Constance Hall Design, Inc. Cabinets: Renninger; Dakota cabinet hardware, from Restoration Hardware; Appliances: Jenn-Air oil-rubbed bronze, Appliance Sales Plus in Somers; Flooring: Durango Honed Travertine tile, mosaic insert (both in floor) and chestnut crackle subway tile (backsplash) from Klaff’s; Sink: custom, copper, farmhouse-style double sink from Rachiele; Countertops: The Wenge wood on bar and desk, from Raging River Counterworks; Bronzite granite in utility areas; Stone work: Bedford Stone and Masonry Supply Corp.; Lighting: Kichler pendants and Puri overhead light fixture by Sonneman at Hi-Light in Yonkers.


A Petite Homeowner Gets a Right Size Kitchen

“The kitchen was circa 2000,” says Sally Sedler of the Rye Brook home she moved into in 2007. “The cabinet doors didn’t sit right, the cabinets were too high, and the way the sink was situated, I couldn’t reach the window sill.” Plus, she really hated white kitchens, white floors in particular. Working with Bilotta Kitchen Design Center, Sedler today has a kitchen accessible to her petite frame, just shy of 4’11”. “I love my walnut cabinets and how Bilotta made use of the height in the room—now I have storage for everything.” The only glitch she encountered in the process was with her X-O exhaust fan. “There was no way to test it without completely installing the fan in the range hood,” she says. “It turned out to be defective. The company replaced the fan, but didn’t reimburse me for the first install. I ended up having to pay the electrician twice. I certainly won’t buy from that company again.” Sedler also warns anyone contemplating a remodel to figure it will take a few weeks longer to complete than planned.



Designer: Bilotta, Mel Elion designer; Cabinets: Signature Kitchen Cabinetry; Backsplash: Jazz (recycled glass) from Artistic Tile; Appliances: ASKO dishwasher, Jenn-Air refrigerator, KitchenAid microwave and oven; Grohe faucet; Countertop: CaesarStone; Flooring: Halo vinyl; Lighting: Chandelier is a restored and electrified vintage oil lamp.


A Kitchen Worthy of the View

Kenneth Kail and Ivy Hwang loved the panoramic views of the Hudson River from their 1987 Briarcliff Manor ranch; the original pink kitchen with Formica countertops and a linoleum floor, not so much. They were already planning major renovations to the home and had brought in an architect, so an overhaul of the kitchen was a no-brainer. “Ivy wanted a large, open space with a study area for her and a dining area with doors to the view,” Kail says. The BlueStar cooktop was set at a lower height to accommodate using a wok. Adjoining the kitchen is a greenhouse where Hwang grows herbs all year long. While the renovations took a long time, “it wasn’t painful,” says Kail, possibly due to his and Hwang’s care in selecting contractors and architects: they asked to see six or seven of their contractor’s previous projects, whereas they heard that most people don’t ask for any.



Architect: Ronald Evitts of Ronald Evitts Architect LLC, Brooklyn, NY; Contractor: Sunrise Building & Remodeling of Briarcliff Manor; Cabinets: Natural maple cabinets by Crown Point Cabinetry of Claremont, New Hampshire; Countertop: Silestone Verde Aqua; Tile: Spa Green quartzite tiles by Stone Source of New York; Appliances: Double-sized refrigerator and wine cooler by Liebherr, GE Monogram warming drawer, Bosch built-in oven and microwave, Miele dishwasher, BlueStar cooktop; Lighting: Fire Farm Kyoto and Tech Lighting Solitude pendants.


A Most Elegant Lean-To

Pat and Ellen Lee’s original kitchen in their White Plains home had pressboard cabinets, was too small, and was in need of serious repairs. Not anymore. With 300 square feet, there’s even room enough for a seating area around the cooking fireplace, which is Pat’s favorite part of the kitchen. A former hunter, he roasts meat on spits, makes mulled cider, and cooks up a mean pumpkin squash stew. “My wife jokes, ‘You have an eight-thousand dollar Thermador oven and you’re over there mucking around in coals,’” he says. “It’s rustic yet sophisticated. At night, I really feel like I’m in a lean-to.” A very high-end one indeed, with mahogany cabinets, a red oak ceiling, and California slate floors. Was the process smooth sailing? “I wasn’t happy with some of my contractor’s work, but I was very pleased with the kitchen designer at Amazing Spaces—I called him Amazing Jason.”




Kitchen Designer: Jason Landau, Amazing Spaces LLC, 30 Fountain Rd, Briarcliff Manor (914) 239-3725;; Countertops: Bronzite granite with leather finish; Appliances: Thermador; Leather couches are custom made; tray on top was fashioned from a faulty cabinet door by Pat; Lighting: Mica Lamp Company.

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