From the June/July 2016 Issue  

Traditional Tune-Up

Writer Meg Fox  |  Photographer Patricia Burke  |  Designer Suzette Donleavy  |  Location Brielle, NJ
  • The crisp blue-and-white scheme of this Brielle kitchen’s makeover took inspiration from the owners’ Wedgwood collection. (Pictured is grandson Charlie.) Lighted leaded-glass panels break up a former solid bank of wood doors. Replacing dated polished brass hardware with Cremone Bolts and a mix of knobs and pulls in a brushed/satin nickel finish elevates the look, as does a more modern mix of surfaces: a polished mosaic backsplash and quartz countertops that have the “look of Carrera without the care,” designer Suzette Donleavy says. BEFORE: Existing solid cherry cabinets were of excellent quality, the homeowner says. “It didn’t make sense to discard them.”

  • The addition of furniture-style legs on the island allows for a wider countertop, which improves its style and function. A bold graphic print delivers a fresh, transitional feel for the accent wall behind the breakfast table; chairs are equally stylish reupholstered in a timeless animal print. Pale bluish gray outer walls “complement the strong blues and act as a subtle understudy in the surroundings,” Donleavy says. BEFORE: The existing paint and wallpaper combo was past its prime. DURING: “The original island was a little small for the space,” the designer says.

A bold paint scheme and other cosmetic touches make a 20-plus-year-old kitchen feel new again.

Inspiration comes in many forms. For a Brielle, NJ couple’s kitchen update, it came by way of the vivid blue found in their Wedgwood collection: one that started with the first piece the homeowner acquired from her grandmother in a cobalt tone no longer produced.

“I didn’t hesitate much about the color,” the wife recalls, after perusing Pinterest with her daughter and finding cabinets she loved in similar hues. Besides, “we wanted to update rather than completely redo,” she says, given that the space was fine for them, the appliances were fairly new and the solid cherry cabinets were of excellent quality. “It didn’t make sense to discard them.”

The next step was a call to interior designer Suzette Donleavy, the owner of Well-Designed Interiors in Shrewsbury, New Jersey, to weigh in on the color palette and other design ideas. “I trust her and have liked working with her” on previous projects, the homeowner says.

As Donleavy recalls, the client “looked to me for first concept approval and then for the development of the design phase,” which went beyond painting the cabinets and walls to replacing the countertops, backsplash, hardware and more. “She wanted a facelift to build upon her quality foundation.”

Instant Impact
After narrowing down the cabinet color from two large samples prepared by trusted painter Andrew Pazienza of Andrew Pazienza Painting & Wallpaper in Brielle, the team came out with a clear winner: Blueberry Hill from Benjamin Moore. “Are you sure about the bold color?” Donleavy and the homeowner recall Pazienza asking them both during the prep and sanding process. The result pleased everyone. “It’s now a very happy environment,” the homeowner says of the crisp blue-and-white scheme. “I also had great confidence in Andy’s work, so I knew they’d look like new cabinets when he was finished.”

To break up a solid expanse of wood doors, Donleavy inserted leaded- glass insets in cabinets on both sides of the range and also swapped polished brass hardware with statement-making Cremone Bolts in a brushed/satin nickel finish. With the interiors painted white and illuminated from within, the clients’ Wedgwood is on full display together with everyday pieces. “I love the juxtaposition of old and new dishware,” Donleavy says.

Modern Blend
Formerly earth-tone surfaces were replaced with white for needed contrast to the saturated blues. The new polished mosaic fish-scale backsplash takes its cues from the home’s location near the ocean and the Manasquan River. White Carrera marble may have been the initial preference for the countertops, but ultimately the couple “did not want to be a slave to their counters,” Donleavy says. Consequently, they went with Carrara from PentalQuartz: a natural quartz composite that is highly durable and requires little maintenance. “It truly gives the look of Carrera marble without the care,” she says.

For the accent wall behind the breakfast table, “my vision was to treat it with a bold statement: something modern, graphic and transitional,” Donleavy says. Thibaut’s Songyue wallpaper “fit the bill perfectly,” she says. In addition, chairs were reupholstered in a timeless animal print, one of the husband’s suggestions, the designer notes. “I always love when I have the husband’s input.”

interior design, Well-Designed Interiors in Shrewsbury; cabinet refinishing and wallpaper application, Andrew Pazienza Painting & Wallpaper in Brielle; cabinetry paint, Blueberry Hill, and wall paint, Gray Cloud, both by Benjamin Moore; existing cherry cabinetry, crafted by Palumbo Millwork in Farmingdale; door hardware, Cremone Bolts and other, Bullet Lock Co. in Long Branch; artwork on kitchen countertop, Lauren Husarik of Manasquan; furniture-style legs on island and installation of leaded-glass door panels, Mr. Paul’s Custom Cabinets in Manasquan; countertops, Carrara from PentalQuartz, Spaulding Fabricators Inc. in Brick; polished mosaic backsplash, Monmouth St. Tile in Sea Girt; wallpaper, Enchantment Collection (Songyue pattern) by Thibaut; animal print chair fabric, Timothy Corrigan for Schumacher.

It’s All About the Prep
Thorough preparation is the key to successfully painting kitchen cabinets, says Andrew Pazienza, owner of Andrew Pazienza Painting & Wallpaper in Brielle. Pazienza shares the various steps he used to refinish the homeowners’ solid cherry cabinets:

• Hardware and drawer fronts were removed carefully.
• Cabinets were sanded with various grits of sandpaper, going finer in each of three rounds.
• An oil-based primer was applied to suppress future reveal of stain absorbed into the wood.
• Cabinets were sanded again.
• Three coats of color were sprayed on and sanded.
• Two clear coats of a water-based finish were brushed on.

During the process Pazienza also painted the drawer interiors and carefully filled the holes where knobs previously were so the client could change the style
to a pull.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A two-story addition to this same home was the cover story of our December 2008-2009 issue. Interior design: Suzette Donleavy; architecture: Jeremiah J. Regan, AIA; photography: Patricia Burke.