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Kitchen of the Week: A Plain English Kitchen in a Brooklyn Brownstone, Space-Gaining Bay Window Included

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Kitchen of the Week: A Plain English Kitchen in a Brooklyn Brownstone, Space-Gaining Bay Window Included

January 5, 2023

After 11 years of living in their Brooklyn brownstone, architect Anat Soudry’s friends were ready: they wanted to replace the Ikea shoebox kitchen that came with their otherwise well-preserved 1889 townhouse.

John and Danielle—he’s a magazine journalist; she’s an early education teacher and former fashion designer—are aesthetes who love to cook and have three young kids. They had outsized hopes and dreams (and a realistic budget) for their new design. Knowing that they love the Italianate plasterwork, moldings, and other original details in their landmarked home, Soudry, their former neighbor who runs her own firm, immediately suggested they work with Plain English Design to make the cabinets.

But how to fit all that the couple hoped into the existing space? The plan was to flip the kitchen/dining area: the new kitchen would fill the former dining room and the table would replace the adjacent former galley kitchen. It was a tidy approach but not quite big enough to house the desired range, island, and mega-storage. Because of zoning and cost constraints, a ground-up addition was not an option. Read on to see the solutions Soudry pulled out of her architectural bag of tricks.

Photographs by Kyle Norton, courtesy of Plain English and Anat Soudry Architect.

to fit all of the kitchen&#8\2\17;s desired elements, soudry introduced a c 9
Above: To fit all of the kitchen’s desired elements, Soudry introduced a cantilevered bay window, also known as an oriel window, to the back of the space overlooking the garden. And she inserted the large range into the room’s existing fireplace, a tough sell that she remedied by giving the setup the look of a hearth.

Plain English provided the millwork, including the fridge surround and the island. A longstanding Remodelista favorite based in the UK—with a showroom in NYC’s East Village and a kitchen shop at Nickey Kehoe in LA—the company specializes in bespoke kitchen cabinetry and are proud traditionalists. As they say: “We’ve spent 30 years studying with fascination the Georgian sensibility of form and proportion and this runs through all of our designs in any number of architectural settings.” As for the wallpapered door: for extra storage, Soudry converted a closet into a second pantry and wallpapered it, at Danielle’s request, in Brunschwig & Fils’s Bird and Thistle pattern.

the black walnut framed bay window—made in the us by parrett windows &am 10
Above: The black walnut-framed bay window—made in the US by Parrett Windows & Doors and supplied by Prince Windows—adds a lot of light to the room and 25 square feet of interior space, just enough clearance to make the island comfortably fit. The cabinets were all tailored for the space—”I drafted a plan and elevations, and Plain English assigned an in-house designer to work on the project and suggest the type of cabinets and other inserts. There was quite a bit of back and forth,” says Soudry, adding that she prefers working with kitchen companies to going fully custom: “unless money is no object, kitchen systems companies deliver a great product that lasts because that’s what they specialize in—and my clients can see what they’re getting in advance.”

John and Danielle bought the vintage gilded hanging lights over the window and the island at Bijan Royal, an antiques store at 60 East 11th Street in NYC.

the cabinets are painted in a plain english paint shade called army camp (and h 11
Above: The cabinets are painted in a Plain English Paint shade called Army Camp (and have interiors in Flummery, a pale yellow inspired by “soft pudding”). Note that Soudry was able to insert extra shelving on each end of the window.

Thanks to her fashion skills, Danielle wanted pattern and color in the kitchen. In lieu of the roller shade Soudry suggested, they went with a curtain in an Osborne & Little floral. And Soudry herself brought past training to the job: in Israel, where she grew up, she studied meteorology during her mandatory time in the army, and worked as a weather person for Channel 2 in Israel while she was in architecture school. “The reason I was drawn to weather is because I’m drawn to the environment: nature, buildings, and how they co-exist—it’s all related,” she says. Soudry also has a certificate in historic preservation from NYU.

antique victorian tiles from solar antique tiles in nyc create a patterned back 12
Above: Antique Victorian tiles from Solar Antique Tiles in NYC create a patterned backsplash for the Viking 7 Series 48-inch range built into the original fireplace—the hood vent, a PK22 by Best, runs through the existing chimney shaft (“it was a structural challenge,” says Soudry, “but we pulled it off.”). The island stools are a Plain English design in a “utilitarian red” called Rusty Nail.

Plain English’s furniture, paints, and Georgian brass hardware are available exclusively to customers and are not sold à la carte, but work tables and standing cabinets can be purchased on their own.

the cabinet and island counters are imperial danby honed marble. the fridge, to 13
Above: The cabinet and island counters are Imperial Danby honed marble. The fridge, to the left of the range, is disguised behind a cabinet with freezer drawers below and storage above—Soudry notes that John and Danielle are both tall and can easily reach the overhead storage.

The new wide-board floor is engineered white oak from PID Floors.

the microwave oven is integrated into the island. nyc builders group served as  14
Above: The microwave oven is integrated into the island. NYC Builders Group served as general contractor and NYCBG member Marek Jakubowski was project manager: “It was teamwork,” says Soudry. “Marek cares about his craft and executed everything well.”
a freestanding plain english larder, a cabinet that can hold tableware or stapl 15
Above: A freestanding Plain English larder, a cabinet that can hold tableware or staples, is tucked in a corner. “My grandma grew up on a farm in Canada,” says Danielle. “I always wanted a kitchen with all the modern comforts but without it looking at all modern.”
an antique american pine dining table with a built in banquette occupies the fo 16
Above: An antique American pine dining table with a built-in banquette occupies the footprint of the former, all-white kitchen—there was a wide partition between kitchen and dining area that Soudry opened further: “now it’s almost one open space.” The antique chandelier, a converted gas fixture, is another piece from Bijan Royal.

The French doors replaced a small window and are a new addition painstakingly designed to appear as if they’ve always been there: the windows are made by Parrett Windows & Doors, which also supplied the bay window. “We attached a P.E. Guerin surface-mount bolt to add a vintage look,” says Soudry.

as an afterthought, soudry had her builder make a cabinet for the dining area.  17
Above: As an afterthought, Soudry had her builder make a cabinet for the dining area. The crimped metal screens were ordered online from TWP.
the view from the front hall. &#8\2\20;the renovation included removing and 18
Above: The view from the front hall. “The renovation included removing and reusing existing original wood moldings throughout the floor, and the existing plaster crown molding was restored in some sections and re-created to match in other sections,” says Soudry. The stair runner came from Lang Carpet.
the new bay window—framed in wood on the interior and aluminum on the ex 19
Above: The new bay window—framed in wood on the interior and aluminum on the exterior—stole a mere two feet from the existing deck, which was expanded during the remodel. “It was a relatively small but mighty project,” says Soudry.

Here are three more favorite Plain English designs:

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