Inside a City-Chic Kitchen (That's Family Friendly!)
A Brooklyn family reimagines a traditional household hub.
August 12, 2015
1 of 14Photo: Winnie Au
Given the opportunity to conjure a dream kitchen from scratch, passionate home cooks and pros might be tempted to construct a temple of modern efficiency. Sarah Karnasiewicz, digital food editor of sister publication Real Simple, had something different in mind when she moved into the late 19th-century Brooklyn, New York, town house she shares with her husband, Joe Tuzzo, and their 3-year-old son, Sam. "I wanted it to feel true to the house in the way that kitchens would have back in the day," she says. "It's not that I wanted to do a historical re-creation, but I wanted something that felt like the rest of the house."
2 of 14Photo: Winnie Au
A Family-Friendly Space
“We spend almost all of our time as a family in the kitchen,” Sarah says. “We have a long table with six chairs around it, and it’s the only table we have.” It’s here that Sam often keeps Sarah company as she develops recipes from home one day each week. “Despite my best efforts, my kitchen has often doubled as a toy truck parking lot,” she says. “But I love having a big table in the kitchen that people can come and go from and have a hub”—and that includes Sarah’s brother, Will, who lives in the building’s downstairs rental unit and often joins Sarah, Joe, and Sam for morning coffee (and milk).
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Access to the outdoors thrills Sarah, who grew up in rural northwestern Connecticut. "Being able to move from the inside to the outside and to have my son come in and out and have that freedom makes me so happy—it really feels like a luxury," she says.
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Open shelving forced Sarah, a lifelong flea market devotee and self-described "incorrigible hoarder," to reevaluate her habits. Now she relies on matched sets of plain ironstone dishware to rein in visual clutter and keeps only her most beloved extras on display.
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Sarah wished for a 48-inch stove with a double oven but opted for a smaller DCS model. Still, having (at least) six burners was nonnegotiable. "That lets me use my stove as a landing pad for things like my cast-iron pan, teakettle, and a 6-quart Dutch oven that are out all the time," Sarah says.
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Sarah filled a room off the back of the kitchen with three walls of ceiling-height reclaimed-wood shelves; a shelf for her desk; and an interior-wall pegboard for pots and pans. "It's the smallest room in the house and the one I spend the most time in," she says.
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Sarah opted for a 10-inch-deep undermount sink in white fireclay porcelain instead of the apron-front farmhouse style she'd initially selected. Then, for a contrast to the room's more traditional elements, she paired it with a modern, matte black faucet.
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Peggars Can Be Choosers
Part of the appeal of the parlor floor is its high, airy ceiling—which Sarah didn’t want to bring down by hanging a hulking pot rack. A pegboard mounted in the pantry handles the overflow that would normally be tucked away inside a closed cabinet.
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Keeping the original parquet floors was key to preserving the parlor level’s flow; Sarah sanded and sealed the surface with polyurethane and uses area rugs to slow the wear in high-traffic spots. She repeated that unifying tactic with the woodwork in the kitchen, commissioning her open shelving, range hood, and pantry storage to be crafted from the same salvaged-lumber lot.
10 of 14Photo: Winnie Au
A set of 12.5-inch upper cabinets (in the same style as Sarah's lower ones) form a slim sideboard on the wall opposite the stove. Painted navy and topped in copper, it blends in without looking like a built-in.
11 of 14Photo: Winnie Au
A Room With A View
Sarah's strong desire for a large window over her sink determined the layout for the whole room. "Once that was decided, everything else had to go where it did," she says.
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A two-drawer Fisher Paykel dishwasher spares Sarah both back strain and wasted water. “I love that I can load the top drawer without bending over, and that I can run just half of it if I want to do a few dishes at a time—which is perfect for a small family like ours,” she says.
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The most fitting finishes for a historic home? Those that wear elegantly and start out with natural patina, as do Sarah's honed pietra del cardosa countertops and glazed-brick tiles, her biggest design splurge. "I love that they are kind of a cross between exposed brick and subway tiles," she says. "They have this classic style—utilitarian, but with a little more rustic edge."
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A Bright Idea
“Our main pendant light was a real steal—it cost just $150 from Ballard Designs,” Sarah says. The timeless style’s metal frame riffs on the black iron brackets of the open shelving, while the glass panels keep everything bright and open.