A visitor to Becky and John Sperling’s kitchen might not spot their refrigerator at first glance. Locating the dishwasher certainly will take a short search. And finding the microwave will involve pulling out drawers.
The appliances in the Sperling kitchen all are within easy reach, but they don’t call attention to themselves. Instead they are understated, amid a landscape of white cabinetry and light gray countertops, waiting to be called into service. Hidden behind white wood panels, some act as brushed-nickel accents in the bright white scene.
ALWAYS LOVED THE WHITE KITCHEN
It’s all white by design, of course. “I always loved the traditional, beautiful white kitchen that had glass and marble,” says Becky, who has lived with her husband Dr. John Sperling and two children in their southwest Rochester home for the past 15 years.
Becky, who worked for months on her family’s remodeling project concept, wanted to create a space to cook but did not focus on a collection of appliances. “I wanted it to look more like furniture than like a kitchen,” she says. She envisioned her kitchen as a bright, airy room with classic style and, she says, “I wanted it to look pretty.”
Becky and Karen Blissenbach, interior designer of Design Studio B, embellished the white theme with an artistic highlight—a marble backsplash with a white/gray geometric pattern. The kitchen’s wall, which often is a backdrop, became its eye candy.
They carried the backdrop’s lines into cabinetry and on to the exhaust hood above the cooking range. Even the cooking range was not allowed to interfere with the wall-mounted mosaic. “I just wanted a gas range that blended in so you could see my backsplash…and the architecture,” Becky says.
IT STARTED WITH A CHRISTMAS TREE
The Sperlings trace the beginnings of their kitchen remodeling to their Christmas tree. In January 2014, as they wrapped up the holiday season, they discovered that water poured for the tree had damaged the maple floor boards in the sunroom next to their kitchen. The accident led to replacement of five rooms of wood flooring, plus the kitchen revamp.
“That was the tipping point,” Becky says. “The water damage happened and then, within a few days, the refrigerator door fell off.” There also were some duct tape repairs to cabinets. Clearly showing its age, “It was not the kitchen of my dreams,” she says. But the Rochester homeowner had been working on a dream kitchen for years. “I had boxes of [home decor] magazines,” she says.
Becky learned about Blissenbach’s firm, Design Studio B, from a friend, and the Sperlings hired the 15-year-old company both to design the renovation and to coordinate construction as general contractor. “Many homeowners do not come to the table with as much information as she had,” Blissenbach says. “At the same time, even if somebody really knows what they want, we can still add to the project,” she says.
For example, Blissenbach’s firm found the backsplash design among its sources. Positioning electrical plugs during the construction was another simple, but important, success. “The fact that we were able to keep all the electrical outlets and switches off the beautiful backsplash was a big deal,” Blissenbach says. Design Studio B found ways to tuck the plugs out of sight beneath hanging cabinets and in the center island.
FROM BACKSPLASH TO NEW APPLIANCES AND COUNTERTOPS
Design aside, the new kitchen is still the family center for meals and chores. The Sperlings replaced all their appliances. They included a double oven—a convection model and a standard oven—stacked together, the gas range top—which replaced an electric model, a French door refrigerator with bottom freezer, a below-counter dishwasher with white face panel and a microwave oven set in a drawer in the kitchen island.
The center island and other counters all received quartz countertops and a double kitchen sink, made of composite material. They have proved to be “very forgiving” in actual use, Becky says.
When the renovation began, “It was a very basic, stock 90s kitchen,” Becky says. The remodeling was accomplished from June through early September of 2014. Shortly after the work was completed, their kitchen was featured on the annual Rochester Area Builders Remodelers Tour.
Bob Freund is a Rochester-based freelance writer.