To create a more light-filled space, Parangi designed two, 41-inch-high walls set at right angles to contain the nook that separates the dining room and
living room. The low walls, topped with the same granite as the countertops, were painted and glazed by Tony Sirena of Majestic Paintbrush Plus in Thornwood to match the cabinets.
Having grown up in the restaurant business, Steve Maravegias knows a thing or two about cooking and entertaining. “They’re my passions,” he says with a smile. It shows, too. Maravegias and his wife, Toula, are the husband-and-wife team behind the popular Metro Restaurant and the Metro Deli, two culinary institutions in Scarsdale that have a devoted following among the lower Westchester set.
“Food, like hemlines and handbags, follows trends,“ he says. ”Tastes are always changing.” To savor the newest flavors, he updates the menus at his eateries at least once a year, keeping favorites such as his special rack of lamb and adding several of the latest popular dishes.
So it wasn’t surprising that the Maravegiases were ready to adapt their home to their own changing tastes. After eight years of living in their Eastchester house, they had outgrown its too-small kitchen and craved a larger, more organized space. The couple has two children— son Michael, 11, and daughter Ellena, 8—plus an extended group of family and assorted friends (many of them longtime customers) who love to congregate around the cooking action during meals.
“Everyone wants to hang out in the kitchen, but the old space just wasn’t big enough,” says Toula. “But since we love the house and the neighborhood, moving to a larger place wasn’t really an option.”
When the couple first moved in, they opted to live with the old kitchen for a while to learn the extent of its inadequacies. It didn’t take long before they could create a litany of shortages, making it easy to determine their goal: to create a room where the family could gather easily, a space that would be comfortable for more than one cook.
The couple turned to architect Max Parangi, who worked with Steve on the design of the Metro Deli, for help with the new kitchen. Parangi, of Max Parangi Architects (which has offices in White Plains and Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey), devised a plan to expand the 11-by-12-foot space to a roomy 18 by 19 feet. He sat down with Toula and sketched several ideas, trying on for size different layouts before hitting upon with the final design. The ultimate plan included a reconfiguration of the first floor, combining the former dining room and the old kitchen to incorporate a kitchen/breakfast nook/pantry area measuring more than 300 square feet.
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“The project involved removing several load-bearing and non-load-bearing walls and expanding the interior footage by 19 feet, which included taking space from the backyard,” says Parangi. An important factor in the design was to have the new kitchen seamlessly blend in with the rest of the house, especially the new adjoining family room; the architect used oak floors in a honey finish to connect the first-floor rooms.
The extra square footage provides ample space for a large kitchen island in the middle of the room. In addition to providing a vast prep area and an eating spot for the family, the island houses a U-Line beverage refrigerator, which not only frees up space in the main fridge, but makes it convenient for Michael, Ellena, and their buddies to help themselves to water and soft drinks. For thirsty grown-ups, a Miele wine cooler and a pullout bar were installed under the kitchen counter near the family room—a convenient spot when entertaining guests.
With years reaping the benefits of commercial appliances, Steve and Toula’s personal wish list contained several professional-style favorites: a Wolf range with a grill, a top-freezer/bottom fridge Sub-Zero refrigerator, a Miele dishwasher and convection oven, and Steve’s favorite: the Miele Coffee System. And the restaurant couple, accustomed to to the easy-access storage at their Scarsdale eateries, wanted cabinets with plenty of room and a separate pantry closet. Deep drawers store plates, pots, and pans; special slots neatly stack platters.
To house it all, custom-designed maple cabinets by Plain & Fancy sport a combination of light and dark finishes: a deep, rich cherry for the island and pantry and a glazed yellow on the cabinets. “Two of the overhead cabinets, one at each end, have glass fronts to break up the line of solid doors,” Toula explains. “They add a bit of sparkle to the room.” To tie the light and deep finishes together, the same polished granite was used on both the island and cabinet counters.
“It’s impossible not to feel uplifted in this bright and sunny room,” Steve and Toula agree. “Whether it’s having kids over for an afterschool snack or a big holiday dinner, the room is always a warm and welcoming hub of activity.”
A former editor of Woman’s Day Home Remodeling & Makeovers Magazine, Barbara Winfield is a freelance writer and interior-design coach based in Peekskill. Her background includes styling, design, and color consultation for both residential and commercial interiors. You can find more about more about Winfield on her website designhomecoach.com.
Photography by Gary Lupton