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Design Match

With contemporary details and a smart layout planned by the pros, this Darien kitchen is finally the family’s perfect fit

When Laura and Karl Kolderup moved to their Darien ranch more than a decade ago, they inherited a kitchen that had been remodeled a few years earlier. As their small children grew, the couple made some inevitable modifications to the house: adding a mudroom, building a second story with additional bedrooms, and creating a playroom above the garage. This evolution included a new kitchen, designed in the style popular in that era. They’d hoped the installation would correct some of the earlier kitchen’s awkward look.

“Our new kitchen had a sort of Old World style,” remembers Laura Kolderup, who notes that she and her husband made all the decisions themselves, in concert with their contractor.

“We liked it for a while—the cherry paneled cabinets, the granite counters, and Tuscan-orange walls—but we gradually came to the conclusion that the new kitchen didn’t really work much better than the one it replaced. Because the main hallway of our house adjoins the kitchen, everyone wound up clogging the space where I prepare food and cook. When we hosted our big California family’s Thanksgiving dinner in 2009, we realized it was time for a new design.”


To work out the plans, Laura knew she would need a kitchen specialist to help solve the layout dilemma. After driving by the Deane showroom one afternoon, she stopped in and met designer Gianna Santoro.

“Gianna was easy to connect with,” recalls Laura, who began a dialogue that helped the final design evolve.

“The homeowners enjoyed and wanted a process,” says Gianna. “We went through a couple of proposals until the plan was exactly what they wanted.”

The final design turned one of the space’s perceived problem spots into an inspiration for the palette. A brick wall—actually the back of the home’s chimney—faces into the kitchen. Looking closely at the color variations in the mortar and old brick, the homeowners were able to pull some colors to use for the palette in the kitchen backsplash, the adjoining family room’s upholstery, and coordinating accessories.

“My husband didn’t want the space to be too neutral,” notes Laura. “So even though we chose a taupe-gray finish for the custom cabinets, we were able to subtly include a more varied palette, picking up details of the brick that were aubergine, tan, and other shades to give the space some color.”

Even the old kitchen turned out to have a second, useful life.

“Before it was even removed, we learned that it had been sold to someone else through Green Demolitions,” says the homeowner.  “It was good to know that it would still be a working kitchen and not put in the landfill.”

A new island, custom-fabricated with rift-sawn oak, stained in a soft driftwood tone, and topped with a counter of concrete and end-grain walnut, now directs traffic flow around the work area, solving the layout problem. A banquette arrangement for family dining gives purpose to one corner of the room. And, while installing Laura’s office along one wall of the busy hallway opposite the kitchen may seem counterintuitive, the plan succeeds because she can do her real estate and household paperwork from a central vantage point.

“It’s the best seat in the house,” declares Laura. “From my desk chair, I can see the front door, the back door, the pool area, who’s coming in, who’s leaving. It really works for family living.”

Deane, Stamford: 203-327-7008, New Canaan: 203-972-8836; kitchensbydeane.com