Home Addition including Kitchen & Master Bathroom

Location: University City, Philadelphia

Building type: Victorian Twin

Renovation style: Timeless Modern Kitchen Design

This kitchen addition began with the burden of some beautiful details and difficult decisions to make as we worked on design options for a complete remodel of 75% of the house. Our clients purchased the home, complete with many stunning original woodwork throughout the first floor entry areas. They were passionate about modernizing the house but torn as to how to maintain some of the architectural details that first made them fall in love with the property.

How to Upgrade and Honor Original Architecture

The greatest risk in maintaining significant style elements from another era is that our clients wanted the floor plan of the expanded kitchen to be open. The clean and modern kitchen includes a new addition with a breakfast table at the rear with an oversized curtain wall of windows opening onto a landscaped yard. They wanted to honor the Victorian details of their new home, but desired updated modern amenities and finishes: an open kitchen concept with glass curtain wall and butcher block island features

Using a Traditional Style Design Approach to Merge Old & New

Our challenge was to combine the Victorian heavy ornamental style with modern clean lines. The redesign of this project required applying a transitional architectural style to their design approach. The goal was to achieve a timeless design with modern elements that could work well with the Victorian millwork that was maintained. Transitional balances traditional or classic elements including the more familiar but simple profiles with a modern clean-line approach that you expect from a remodeled kitchen space. Ornamentation is usually downplayed from the Victorian style. Transitional is marked by neutral colors, creating light and inviting family spaces with warm tones. Transitional design is the most versatile of styles and the most popular for our clients.

The color palette for transitional includes simple earth tone colors accented by raw (unfinished) materials like unpainted wood and various metallic finishes. Plenty of natural light is important for a transitional and we made sure to build in the oversized windows into the sight lines through the common areas of the first floor. 

Natural Finishes with Plenty of Storage and Lighting

The stunning kitchen transformation included LED recessed lighting; custom maple butcher block countertops; and a sixteen-by-eight-foot breakfast nook addition with an amazing view of the rear yard. One lighting challenge created by the design approach was that we could not use under-cabinet lighting (as there were no upper cabinets). During a sunny day this would not be a problem since we had greatly increased the window area in the kitchen, but on a cloudy day or evening hours, we needed more light options. We decided to increase the number of recessed lights, increased the lumens of the lights and (of course) made sure they were all on dimmers for best control.

Another challenge: because we were losing many of the upper cabinets found in a more traditional kitchen, we needed to make sure that we had extra base cabinets in the island. We also needed to make sure that the base cabinets had drawers and organizing dividers to help make the greatest use of the reduced storage space. The project has been one of our most popular ever!


  • White Shaker-style cabinets with large pantry
  • 12′ X 9′ custom window wall with operable transom windows and 8′ tall exterior door
  • 2-1/4″ thick hard rock maple countertops
  • Restored Victorian trim details throughout

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