Check Out Founder Maxwell’s Dream Kitchen Renovation

updated Apr 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Eric Striffler)

Back in the early spring of 2016 I tore down a little house my family had purchased 18 years earlier and, taking it on as finally my own and with money that I inherited when my father passed away, I rebuilt it from the ground up (actually below the ground, up) with the help of three wonderfully skilled people, John Berg (architect), Peter Germano (contractor) and Rebecca Robertson (interior designer). The project took nearly two years, allowing me to move in by Christmas 2018. I documented every step of the way (here’s where I left off in July 2017), BUT had to stop when it got close to the end so I wouldn’t spoil the final reveal AND so I could get it photographed by House Beautiful, which gave the team props. NOW, however, I can show everything in great detail, so please come with me as I roll out the whole finished house in a number of posts, starting with this one, which features….

(Image credit: Eric Striffler)
Same view in August 2016 (Image credit: Maxwell Ryan)

The Kitchen & Dining Room – January 2019

The kitchen and the dining room are really the same room, with the cooking area at one end and the dining on the other. As you can see in the pic above, the main hallway runs right into it, which I love. The whole house is very balanced, with entrances on multiple sides, making it easy to get in and around every space.

(Image credit: Eric Striffler)

The dining area sits under these lovely huge pendants and next to an accent wall of Josef Frank wallpaper. The inspiration for the house came from many Scandinavian cottages and houses that I’d collected on the web, so I tried very hard to make sure that every design within the house came from that part of the world. I felt it would keep the vision clear and allow me to avoid putting something in that would jar or be out of context.

(Image credit: Eric Striffler)

The kitchen “U” is the power center of the house. I designed it to be able to have multiple cooks going at once, with open shelving so it was as fast and easy to use as a commercial kitchen, and with a generous island that allowed the cook to work while talking to his or her guests.

(Image credit: Eric Striffler)

The cabinets? All IKEA with solid wood black doors from SemiHandmade. While the kitchen has many luxurious touches, everything is efficient and the budget was spent where I felt it would really pay off.

(Image credit: Eric Striffler)

Carrara marble covers the floor, counter tops and shelves. Beautiful and functional, it is one of the least expensive stones to use, due to people’s aversion to the care it requires, but I embrace it, enjoy cleaning it and look forward to it aging gracefully with me. The big splurges were on the Wolf stove, hood and big fridge from Subzero. They don’t even call it a fridge. They call it a “food preservation machine.” It’s just a big, beautiful severe fridge that holds a ton and has a glass door so you can see inside.

(Image credit: Eric Striffler)

This is one of my favorite photos because it captures the inspiration pic that I saved years ago. The cabinets are all the fantastic new IKEA Sektion system with SemiHandmade doors, and the floor is wonderfully heated with an electric pad so it’s warm underfoot on cold days.

Cabinet Doors – SemiHandmade wood veneer with Black Stain
Cabinets – IKEA Sektion
Door Pulls – IKEA ?? like Bagganas, but discontinued it looks like
Recycled Plastic Rug – Brita of Sweden
Bowls, Plates & Flatware – Snowe Home


Architect: John Berg, Berg Design Architecture
Contractor: Peter Germano
Interior Design: Rebecca Robertson