CONTEMPORARY CLASSIC: Transforming a New Canaan Kitchen

Jan 10, 2023

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The Nicolet family, including executive parents, two sporty teenagers, mother-in-law, a friendly Labrador Retriever and a GoldenDoodle puppy, decided to undertake a renovation of their kitchen, mudroom and bar, in the middle of covid – and while living in the house during the 5 months of renovation. They wanted to achieve an open and airy Nantucket-style vibe, with plenty of storage, all suitable for lots of entertaining. And they needed to get the work done on-time and on-budget.


The original space was dated and dark with formica countertops and too many scattered, mis-matched appliances. The new space shows that Jeanne understood the assignment. From drab to fab, the difference is astounding. White-washed red oak flooring neutralizes the room and brings together the main kitchen area with the adjoining breakfast nook. Different shades of gray throughout the room, on the plush textured stools and matching chairs, and the hearty wooden island base, are tied together with gray veining on the 2 ½-inch thick countertops and pulled up through the room as notes of gray peek in from the blue glass tile backsplash. The juxtaposition of large modern stainless steel appliances and the light california-style wood from the legs of the kitchen stools and the floor give the room a feeling of clean modern elegance combined with calming welcome. The light fixtures in each area of the space mirror the same juxtaposition; with three large glass spheres and exposed edison light bulbs hanging from brass pendants over the island giving off a contemporary in-vogue look and a subliminal sumptuous element, and the highly textured woven geometric pendant over the breakfast nook is a bit more tranquil. The use of mixed metals throughout the room allow the colors to flourish and the crisp white cabinets to pop. 

“It was a pleasure working on this project and working with the Nicolet’s,” says Jeanne Collins of JerMar Designs, who designed the entire project to meet every expectation. Even though we had to deal with some covid-related delays in getting specific materials and appliances, plus the typical construction unknowns, the Nicolet’s worked with us through it all to achieve the kitchen of their dreams. The kitchen in this traditional New Canaan center hall Colonial had not been updated for twenty years. We opened up the room, making way for a larger walkway and doorway, by removing an unnecessary closet. We shrunk the size of the pantry, while still increasing total storage space, using cabinets that extend to the 9’-high ceiling and utilizing clever hidden storage solutions – including a hidden coffee bar and a mail holder – and more efficient shelving.”

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“To accomplish the Nicolet’s aesthetic,” Collins continues, “we went custom on most of the design elements. A new built-in banquette fits more people than chairs would have allowed and has the added benefit of storage underneath. The custom bench cushion is performance fabric to withstand heavy use and spills. Lighting over the table by Palecek adds to the beachy look with its organic materials. Oversize pendants above the kitchen island bring drama, while the glass material keeps the lighting from being heavy and overpowering. Quartz counters are durable, and the mitered edge maximizes the thick look and adds a modern touch. The custom island by GS Woodworking, in white oak with a custom stain finish, makes for a stunning focal point. The glass backsplash looks like a washed blue denim, and is laid offset for a more current look than the typical brick style. The appliances are all part of the new GE Monogram line. The ‘5-in-1’ GE Monogram wall oven is the most used appliance, as it boasts five appliances in one, including a microwave and convection oven. The large fridge and freezer with custom paneled doors and custom brass pulls, blend in with the custom cabinetry and are great for entertaining.”

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Collins also suggested a custom bar – as Mr. Nicolet works in the liquor business. The bar was custom designed with GS Woodworking around a tall Thermador wine fridge, and has pull-out drawers in different sizes to accommodate different bottle types and all the necessary bar accessories. The high-gloss lacquer cabinets with brass inlay, marble and gold backsplash, custom brass sink and quartzite countertops make a real statement!

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Collins also remodeled and renovated the mudroom in order to make the space more functional and open. Floor to ceiling cabinets house a pantry and a closet as well as smaller cubbies for accessories and sports gear. The bench was added with a custom cushion in performance fabric.  The aquatic wallpaper from Thibaut lines the walls and the ceiling, to make the space feel larger and tying in the coastal look of the kitchen. 


The Nicolet family is thrilled with the result. About their new kitchen and mudroom, Stehanie shared, “Jeanne’s expertise helped us to achieve exactly what we wanted; we were able to incorporate our love of the beach with a more sophisticated and classic aesthetic in such a fantastic and functional result. Some of my favorite parts are the blue hues in the kitchen that carry into the wallpaper in the mudroom,” she continues, “and best of all, the solutions that Jeanne designed have made our spaces so much more functional.” As the family moved into their fresh spaces, they also enlisted the help of Tidy Nest, the preeminent home organizing company in the area, to create long-term clutter-free solutions for the spaces that fit neatly within Jeanne’s design, “months later, we’ve managed to keep everything organized and we are just so happy with this new gathering space in our home.”

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