from "Connecticut Home: Come into the Kitchen"
by Kim Waller courtesy of Connecticut
Magazine November 2004 )
New updated shingle-style in Woodbury.
Highlights: Extensive cherry woodwork;
extra-high ceilings; wall of Prairie-style windows;
ceramic tile floor; retro light fixture
Builder Eric Strachan has more than 600 houses to his
credit, so when it came to building this one for his
family, he and his wife Carol knew just what the wanted:
“a modern house that had the character of a classic
home from the past”. Its not unusual for a kitchen
to take its style clues from the house. But in this
case, things worked the other way. The understated cherry
Dutch Made cabinets they chose, with the help of designer
Kyong Agapiou of The Kitchen Factor (Glastonbury, New
Haven, Wilton). Were the prime influence on cherry woodwork
used lavishly throughout the rest of the house –
which, by the way, won a first-place HOBI award this
year from the Home Builders Association of Connecticut.
Over all that warm wood of the open kitchen soars a
20-foot-high white plaster ceiling (shared by the linked
family room), visually balanced by strong horizontal
beams. The striking Crestline windows over the sinks,
reminiscent of a Frank Llyod Wright design, appear to
be leaded, “but the aren’t. says Strachan.
“They have dividers inside and out and are double-paned–the
look of the old and the efficiency of the new.”
That’s surely the theme of this kitchen. Though
Carol is the master cook in this family of three teenagers
and two pug dogs, Eric knows a thing or two about efficiency.
For example the dishwasher is raised a bit to ease bending
backs, and so is the dish storage drawer to the other
side of the triple sinks. “Now all my clients
want theirs raised!” he says.
by glowing cherry cabinetry and detailed paneling,
the kitchen and adjoining family room of this new
house evoke the craftsmanship of yore. Look up,
however, and you’ll see that clerestory cuts
in the soaring plaster walls are boldly modern,
crowning the wood spaces with airy openness.A double
bank of Prairie-style windows brings in views of
a neighboring nature center: to break up the extensive
wood, the owners opted for tile floors and a dark
finish on stainless appliances.
why three sinks? Well, one is for rinsing, one for pots
and one for drying. Like many another updated idea, this
old one works to keep counter clutter down. And remember
warming ovens? There’s one in the island. “I’m
home late sometimes, “ says Eric, “and my
dinner is waiting for me, warm but not dried out.”
Recycling is important, so the modern island has a drawer
for all those soda cans that the kids go through. Because
the granite-topped island also has a prep sink (with double
waste baskets below), two or more people are able to work
together at different stations, especially since Eric
insists that the floor space surrounding an island be
no less than four feet. “Otherwise,” he explains,
“you get pinch points.”
builder declares that “we wanted to break the
mold a bit with this kitchen.” The credit for
doing so, he says, really belongs to the quartet of
his wife, Carol, his gerneral foreman, Scott Summa,
architect Jim Tuttle of Wolcott and Agapiou from the
Kitchen Factor. One unusual choice is that the stove
top is not on a wall, but directly overlooks the family
room (which is two steps lower), with a dramatic Viking
hood (it vents through the attic above) as a focal point.
The granite backsplash is just high enough for any pileup
of cooking pots to be hidden from the family room.
Nowadays, not only the great room, but dining areas
and even patios are considered extensions of the kitchen.
The Strachans’ kitchen is flanked, for and aft,
by a formal dining room (“we hardly ever use it”)
and a family eating area that’s equipped with
its own sink and cupboards. It even has a small condiments
fridge, so the kids aren’t always running back
to the main refrigerator for ketchup and strawberry
jam. Both dining rooms have a lovely barrel-vaulted
ceilings a bit lower that the kitchen’s, lending
a more intimate feeling. The barrel-arch motif is carried
right on out to the patio, where it shelters an outdoor
Come to think of it, even if Carol were not a great
cook, even if–heaven forbid–nary a meal
were to come forth from this splendid kitchen, it would
still be a space of visual beauty and balance.