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Remodel Magazine November 2010 Features Maury Place Kitchen

Remodel Magazine November 2010

Rising to the Challenge

Bed and Breakfast owners cook up charm and function in their Virginia kitchen.

Written by Judi Kettler
Photographed by Toni Giammarino
Produced by Mona Dworkin

Many other buyers had rejected this 1916 home in the historic museum district of Richmond, Virginia. The problem wasn't a lack of character-the house was brimming with it. But that character came with a catch: Easements attached to the deed dictated aspects of the home that absolutely could not be changed. The easements were most strict about the kitchen. The room's footprint, flooring, subway wall tile, and angled sink all must stay intact. But that didn't deter Jeff Wells and Mac Pence.

Roman Window Shades


Historical easements protect a bed-and-breakfast kitchen, forcing the owners to work with the existing footprint, an awkward angled sink, and challenging window and door placements.


  • The design team focused on the homeowners' most pressing needs, such as incorporating a huge Wolf range and double ovens.
  • The space-saving island is small but functional, providing storage and a serving surface.
  • A new breakfront display cabinet, which echoes an original in the butler's pantry, provides space for the owners' dish collections.
  • A much larger farmhouse sink adds vintage charm, and it's practical for food prep and cleanup.
Maury Place Kitchen Floorplan
Decorative Kitchen Tile

Jeff and Mac dreamed of restoring the home and turning it into a charming bed and breakfast. They craved a traditional look to preserve the vintage charm.

"We needed to follow these restrictive covenants and be true to the spirit of this house," says Mark Franko, co-owner of Franko LaFratLa Construction - a firm with experience negotiating tricky' historical easements. "The kitchen didn't have to be grand for entertaining; it just needed to be sophisticated and functional so Jeff could cook for the bed and breakfast guests each morning."

Cabinet design was key. Instead of choosing full-overlay cabinets (which are easier to build), Franko created inset cabinets with face frames. "It's a more time-consuming. way to construct cabinets, but it gave us the traditional look we needed and was true to the period," he says.

Maury Place Kitchen Cabinet

When it came to the island, Jeff had a specific aesthetic in mind. "I wanted it to look like a piece I may have picked up at an antiques store," he says. The final product fulfills his wishes, and it provides storage and access to electricity. "The top of the island is also a great place for plating in the morning because we do a full hot breakfast [for the guests]," Jeff says.

Designer Ellen Norris of Caryatid Interiors was on board with Jeff's vision for colors and finishes. "I don't like to match everything," she says. While the cabinets are a white hue, Norris suggested a creamier color for the walls. It blends, she says, without providing a spot-on match that quickly becomes boring. White carrara marble countertops keep the space grounded and suit the home's vintage. "The whole house is simple, tailored, and elegant-and the kitchen fits in beautifully," Norris says.

Take It Home Sidebar

Living with the Past

Historical easements on this home turned off many potential buyers, but Jeff Wells and Mac Pence embraced them. Here's how their design team coped with the restrictions:

  • The kitchen's footprint couldn't change, so the owners reassessed their needs and decided the room should focus on functionality.
  • They had to preserve the tile floor, which turned out to be in great shape and inspired the color scheme.
  • The subway tile had to stay. They stripped away paint to expose imperfections and let the historical patina shine through.
  • An exhaust fan for the large range was a must, so they got permission from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to cut a hole in the wall to install it..
  • They built the refrigerator and dishwasher directly into the space to qualify for restoration tax credits.
Maury Place Kitchen
Farmhouse Kitchen Sink