Kitchen Takes Cue from 13th Century Castle
By John Filippelli
ENGLEWOOD, NJ Many people believe that their home should be their
castle. But, when Peter Salerno, CKD, CBD and president/owner of
Wyckoff, NJ-based Peter Salerno, Inc. redesigned this kitchen from
his clients’ 1920s-style home, he took that literally using
pre-existing stained glass that dates back to a 13th-century castle
as a focal point.
The kitchen part of a sprawling 15,000-sq.-ft. mansion actually
reflects the style of the 1930s with Old World elements thrown in,
according to Salerno. To create the Old World theme, he utilized
such touches as a unique farm sink and painted and glazed custom
cabinetry to ensure that the design would “flow with the rest of
the home as if it were there from the beginning,” he remarks.
Of course, the kitchen needed more than just a style update. It
had to be dramatically expanded to accommodate the client’s cooking
and entertaining needs, as well. “This kitchen needed to be at
least quadrupled in size without taking away any of the aesthetics
from it,” Salerno said. Thus, “the back of the kitchen was pushed
to the back of the house, which increased the overall size by about
30 ft,” to a total of 630 sq. ft.
Since 300 to 400 guests are not uncommon, Salerno also installed
a secondary kitchen to be used specifically by caterers during
larger engagements. It is situated downstairs from the main
The kitchen already came
with one unique feature the 12’x16′ stained glass panel located in
the ceiling. However, according to Salerno, “It previously had been
thrown up there with some chains. They never really formally built
it in to the space.”
To show the glass off to its best advantage, Salerno decided to
center it over the stove area, over the island and the window.
“The objective was to use it as a focal point as people are
entering from the dining room,” he offers.
But, Salerno quickly found that there was a challenge involved
with this decision, since there was an existing bedroom above that
couldn’t be disturbed. He had to figure out how to light the
stained glass to make it look like there is light shining through
His solution was to create an alcove area on the sides and over
it with backlighting placed around it to imitate natural lighting
and retain the glass’ initial purpose as a skylight.
“We also added a removable plastic cove so the clients can get
to the lights when they burn out and replace them easily,” he
Once Salerno successfully incorporated the stained glass into
the kitchen redesign, he turned his attention to the overall style
of the kitchen.
Since cooking and
entertaining were essential to this household, Salerno realized
early on that the best way to create a manageable traffic area
would be to incorporate an island.
However, he also wanted the island to help define the overall
look of the kitchen. “The intention of the island was to be able to
make it [look like] a piece of furniture,” he explains. To that
end, he notes, “I put two open shelves on both sides of the island
that are semi-circled, and the corners have a three-sided fluted
column on it.
“The island was primed, and we had an artist paint it to match
the table and chairs. Everything is painted in glaze in the
perimeter. The island features a grape motif, which is done in a
greenish antique finish,” he offers. To match the island, the hood
was also hand-painted.
“It’s done in a grain and off-white color with all of the walls
done in a venetian plaster,” Salerno describes.
“We also took the colors [of the stained glass] and incorporated
them into the island and some of the wall treatments. We made sure
that the grains worked with some of the silk flowers that were in
the room and with the table,” he says.
As for function, “The island has a sink and refrigerator in it
that are right across from the cooktop, so that creates two working
areas within the kitchen,” he notes.
“Since [the entire family cooks], we wanted to make sure they
weren’t tripping over each other or overlapping in working
centers,” Salerno says.
“So, obviously an oversized sink was necessary. What we did was
take a sink that was made out of marble and had it honed. This
creates a big sink clean-up area or large prep area,” he says.
A copper sink was also incorporated into the island, Salerno
notes, to match the copper faucet. “That was also matched with the
cup handles that we have in the island where the two refrigerators
are located as well as on the row of drawers there,” he offers.
“You can pull the vegetables out of the two refrigerators in the
island and start preparing off of that space. By the clean-up area
and by the primary sink is the 15″ Kitchen-Aid trash compactor and
two Miele dishwashers, so once they have filled one, they can start
filling the other one. Basically, the island is self-sufficient,”
The clients really wanted to make sure all of their functional
and entertaining needs would be met, says Salerno, and “obviously
one refrigerator wouldn’t do. So, we incorporated two Sub-Zero
refrigerators and freezers, plus a secondary work sink.
“The kitchen also has two Thermador ovens, a 48″ Thermador
commercial cooktop, a GE microwave, a coffee machine and a 24″
Sub-Zero wine cooler,” he continues.
In the secondary kitchen, Salerno installed “four ovens, two
refrigerators, two sinks and a stove.”
Less is more
Salerno opted to minimize the
use of cabinetry in the kitchen by utilizing the butler’s pantry
for storage needs.
The idea was that, “The clients can store all of the food goods in
the butler’s pantry which also matches the painted and glazed,
cream-colored custom cabinetry instead of putting tall cabinets in
the middle of the room,” Salerno explains.
To that end, each kitchen cabinet was “piggy backed,” with one
cabinet installed over another due to the height of the
But, perhaps, the most important function of the cabinets,
Salerno points out, is to house the clients’ collectibles. “[The
lady of the house] has a vase collection, and we installed glass
shelves on the upper cabinets so that she could display her vases
both in and on top of the cabinets. That way, she could rotate her
display [as she got new vases],” he notes. Halogen lighting
installed in the cabinetry helps to further showcase the
“I used uplighting on top of the cabinets to light up the vases
and give the ceiling a glow in the evening, so there is a lot of
warmth. You can turn the lights off in the room and use the ceiling
and perimeter lighting to give it enough ambience,” he adds.
“I also did two pedestals which are about 12″ high and made for
tall vases,” Salerno adds.
Complementing the design, as well, is the use of marble
countertops and the aforementioned copper faucetry, Salerno further
“The client didn’t want a shiny countertop, so Noche marble was
selected with a dull, honed finish on it,” he offers. “It worked
beautifully with the floor, as well as with the cabinets and the
“The faucets are all done in a fresh copper finish that
complements the Noche marble. Instead of doing a shiny or brushed
nickel finish, this certainly matches the character and antique
look of the room,” he points out.
Additionally, Salerno stained the oak wood floors in light
walnut to give the room warmth and contrast with the cabinets.
The kitchen also includes several other unique touches, such as
a desk area with a cubicle space for the clients’ two dogs. “I did
a semi-circle opening, and the dogs have their own little space
which is actually attached to the desk,” he concludes.