From the February/March 2020 Issue  

A Scotch Plains Kitchen Gets a Support System Reno

Writer Marirose Krall  |  Photographer Vic Wahby  |  Designer Dawn Heifetz  |  Architect Hilde Lazar, AIA  |  Builder Michael R. Mroz  |  Location Scotch Plains, NJ

Styling the truss was a big process, designer Dawn Heifetz says. Varying bolt types and beam sizes were considered for the framework, which was stained to match the floor.

A support system boosts a Scotch Plains renovation

Much of the sprawling 1960s ranch had already been renovated; all but one room, in fact. Homeowners Lisa and Ted Schiller wanted their kitchen to catch up to the rest of their Scotch Plains, New Jersey, house. “Lisa loves to cook,” designer Dawn Heifetz says. “She wanted a big kitchen with lots of light that would be open to the dining room with no columns, just a big open space.”

It was the lack of columns in the expansive space that would prove to be a challenge for Heifetz, owner and principal of DPH Designs LLC in Scotch Plains. Enlisting the help of Hildie Lazar of Lazar Architecture in Scotch Plains and Mike Mroz of Michael Robert Construction in Westfield, New Jersey. Heifetz found a way to create the wide-open spaces the homeowners wanted in their kitchen while ensuring that the roof stayed safely up.

The large stainless steel range is topped with a custom hood made of stainless steel and zinc. At left, barn doors mark the entry to the pantry.

The solution was the installation of a custom wood truss to support the roof of the existing house along with the addition. “It involved some good engineering and a contractor who was willing to go the extra mile,” the designer says. However, the procedure did not involve unwieldy lifting of a weighty beam. “They shored up the entire roof first and then built the truss in place before they released the columns so they didn’t have to lift it up into place,” Heifetz explains. “The whole process of building it was very cool.”

The raised ceiling was also a complicating factor when it came to installing the cabinetry, requiring soffits to define the spaces above the side cabinet wall and the range hood.

“We made them their own blocks of mass rising up to meet the cathedral ceiling.”

“A lot of thought was given to the function of each and every drawer,” Heifetz says of the storage options in the kitchen.

The ceiling is the crowning glory on an interior design that features a neutral palette with minimal accessories. “The style is transitional, with a slightly rustic tilt,” Heifetz says. The floor, the stools and that all-important truss—which was stained to match the floor—are rustic components. “But a lot of the design elements are sleek and modern.” The custom zinc and stainless steel hood brings an industrial note to the space. Brass cabinet hardware adds another metal to the mix.

The 8-by-8-foot island is topped with book-matched quartz.

White cabinetry gives the room a clean look, both figuratively and literally, offering ample storage and minimizing disorder. “Lisa wanted everything clutter-free,” Heifetz says. Cabinetry along the side wall incorporates two appliance garages to keep bulky kitchen gadgets out of sight. The extra-large island—8 feet by 8 feet—offers additional storage plus a seating area and space for food prep.


Though this project’s technical complexities lengthened the timeline a bit, everyone involved embraced the challenge. “It was a long process,” Heifetz says, “but it was a great team effort between the client, myself, the architect, the contractor, the cabinet guys—even the lighting guys who installed custom LED lighting under cabinets. Everyone was into the creativity of the whole thing.”