A Historic Renovation

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Something Old, Something New,
Something Stunning & Useful Too

Kitchens have become the center of the home. It is a place for efficient cooking, casual entertaining, and strengthening family relationships. This ideal kitchen has splendor for us to marvel, an innovative design to capture our interest, and a bit of history for a home appeal. Some may believe this kitchen is merely a wish to an unrealistic dream, but dreams have a way of coming true.

This dream came true for the Mustin family. In Lansdowne, Pennsylvania (located in historical Delaware County), lies a house that was first created in 1900. Frank Fleer—developer of the first piece of bubble gum, Double Bubble, and the first to package bubble gum with baseball cards—built this rural farmhouse. During the 1980s, the house was sold to Fitzgerald Mercy Hospital, who converted it into a convent. In 2006-2007, Frank Fleer’s grandson, Frank Mustin, rediscovered this family treasure and reacquired the property, where his granddaughter could make a home for her family. After being transformed by numerous occupants, this home would finally receive the attention it deserved.

Making a Dream a Reality

Naturally, the home’s current condition had diminished throughout the years and needed to be historically restored and updated to meet today’s building safety codes. Just as important, the home renovations needed to fit the functional needs for every day living of the Mustin family. They felt the home, with five bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms, a den and a library, was too massive for their needs. With the help of renovations, they wanted to make better use of the space. The home’s structural footprint was downsized, but other functional additions were added including a breakfast room, an expanded butler’s pantry, and a garden constructed on the stone foundation walls of the demolished wing. Other renovations were needed such as new roofing, a deck, and patio complete with outdoor lighting.

It was very important to the Mustin family that the home’s historic integrity be maintained throughout the renovation process. The family desired to salvage the original features and materials of the house as much as possible. All the original windows, doors, chestnut trim and hardware were reused throughout the renovation to make this home more earth-friendly.

For the renovation, the Mustin family hired Gardner/Fox Associates, Inc., a design and construction management company in Bryn Mawr, Pa., to handle the reconstruction that would restore this home back to its original beauty.

The Heart of the Home

In the heart of the home, the kitchen was a primary focus in the renovation work. The original kitchen was a 265-square-foot floor space with orange laminate cabinets, dark brown laminate flooring, and a dropped tile ceiling that had been a band-aid to conceal cracks and water damage in the original plaster ceiling. Its outdated look needed to be transformed into a more contemporary space with more open, natural light; the kitchen had to be completely gutted. With the kitchen as a blank canvas, the design team started from scratch.

Adelphi Kitchen and Cabinetry was recruited to create beautiful custom cabinets that would help accent and highlight the new kitchen. Nadia Waltz, C.I.D, was Adelphi’s design specialist who worked with Gardner/Fox and the Mustin family to perfect the kitchen’s new cabinetry. To maintain the integrity of the home, Adelphi chose its traditional Heritage style cabinetry with a frameless construction (to keep costs reasonable) that featured slant-style raised doors and beveled drawers.

Upon the additional wishes of the Mustins, Adelphi worked diligently to incorporate the look of a silvery-blue beadboard from the family’s vacation home into the new kitchen’s renovation. With only a photo of this inspiration piece, Adelphi began making samples of various wood species paired with different stains until they found the perfect combination that replicated the unique beadboard, which generated a new, custom color. Alder wood and freshly coated in a Driftwood stain was used for the cabinetry along the perimeter of the kitchen. Adelphi used oak for the cabinetry in the butler’s pantry and the island, which was stained to match the home’s original red oak woodwork. Pairing these two distinct finishes created a stunning contrast, adding dimension and visual interest to the space.

To restore the obsolete kitchen into a functional space for the Mustins, Gardner/Fox recommended entailing some contracting and heavy lifting work. The renovations included:

  • The home’s footprint was reduced in order to fit the desires of the Mustin family, who believed the home was too large for them. This meant the entire first floor kitchen area was reconstructed to make it more open and spacious. It also included a new butler’s pantry.
  • The back stairwell (adjacent to the kitchen) was brought up to today’s building codes and restored to match the staircase in the foyer.
  • An original chestnut trim was used along the floorboards, windows and doorways. Due to the limited availability and expense of chestnut wood, all of the original woodwork was salvaged, restored and reused in the renovation. The doors, trim work, and windows were all labeled and numbered until they were reused in the renovation throughout the home.
  • The connecting countertops that once dominated the kitchen were replaced with an alluring and functional central island featuring a sink and a dining area.
  • An additional 110-square-foot space was created next to the kitchen for the Mustins to have a quaint and intimate breakfast nook with natural light.

Accenting the Old with the New

As with any renovation, it was important for the kitchen to effortlessly blend in with the rest of the home. This was done through seamlessly matching the flooring and the cabinetry to the surrounding trim and molding throughout the house. An issue arose, however, during the cabinetry installation. Adelphi discovered that the floor in the kitchen had settled, which caused a three-inch slope from the butler’s pantry to the breakfast nook. In order for the cabinets to be perfectly level, Adelphi tapered the toe kick to compensate for the slope. The cabinets remained at a consistent height throughout the kitchen.

Once the cabinets were in place, it was necessary to optimize space within the kitchen’s cooking area. Within the cabinets, innovative and hidden storage was added, such as pullout spice racks and panels to hide small appliances. Soapstone countertops were masterfully chosen at Bucks County Soapstone to create natural and functional beauty within the space.

Detailed with decorative appointments and raised panels, the central island was equipped with a contemporary-styled sink and storage solutions. It complemented the subway tile used along the backsplash of the stovetop adjacent to the island. Three pendent lights suspended over the island to provide a more classic feel, while recessed lighting was added to brighten the entire workspace of the kitchen. To polish off the room, stainless steel appliances were installed including a stove top range with a stainless steel hood, a double-oven and French-door refrigerator with a bottom-mount freezer.

The kitchen’s redesign created a modern and welcoming space, which captured the true essence of its history and appealed to the desires of the Mustin family.

Space Renovation – Butler’s Pantry & Breakfast Nook

Located between the kitchen and dining room was the butler’s pantry, which was renovated with beautiful custom cabinetry to complement the original woodwork of the home. It was reconfigured to incorporate clever storage solutions in a reduced, yet more functional space. Along the cabinets, built-in wine racks and slide-out baskets were installed. The room was equipped with a classic farmhouse sink, perfect for the environment-friendly family to compost.

During the design of the butler’s pantry, Adelphi discovered an existing window in the renovated space had a windowsill that dropped below cabinet height. Since this would make it difficult to build cabinetry, Adelphi searched for a solution. They finished the backside of the cabinets in order to make it look complete from the outside. The windowsill fell behind the farmhouse sink and below the cabinet height, but it resulted in a unique feature to the historical home.

In order to create space for the breakfast nook, Gardner/Fox demolished a stone wall that initially separated the kitchen from the breakfast area. This opened up the dark space and allowed more natural light to flow into the room. Once the wall was removed, Gardner/Fox decided to install a modern cantilevered structure.

All white trim was added to the breakfast nook and the baseboards were stained to maintain visual continuity with the kitchen and butler’s pantry. Terracotta radiant flooring was installed to heat the space – ideal for crisp Pennsylvania mornings.

A Dream Home Complete

The house was deemed a success and the Mustin family was beyond pleased with the renovations, especially since it mirrored their green lifestyle. Throughout the house, they reduced the massive floor plan, added a master bedroom suite and an upstairs hall bathroom, restored the back stairwell to bring it up to code, and completely refurbished the worn slate roof with a copper metal roof. Most importantly, they were rewarded with a gorgeous new kitchen and breakfast nook. The home has been restored, but becoming a family heirloom again is the real dream that came true.


About Adelphi Kitchens & Cabinetry

Adelphi Kitchens & Cabinetry was founded by four brothers in 1946 in a small garage behind their home. Today, their descendants own and manage the company and have more than 220 dealers across the nation, some dating back to the late fifties. With a workforce of 120 skilled artisans, Adelphi produces approximately 60 custom kitchens each week in its modern 160,000-square-foot facility on 20-acres in Robesonia, Pa. Visit www.adelphikitchens.com to locate American dealers or access cabinetry and hardware selector tools, photo galleries and information on fine custom cabinetry.

About Gardner/Fox Associates, Inc.

Gardner/Fox Associates, Inc. is an award-winning contractor and construction management company serving Philadelphia and the Main Line since 1987. The residential division uniquely combines architecture, interior design, decorating, construction, and landscaping services into a one-stop shopping experience for high quality home additions, renovations, remodeling and new home construction. The commercial division specializes in commercial building expansions, fit-outs, and renovations with projects ranging from specialized medical facility construction to economical fast-track interior fit-outs and office remodeling.