Home: Light Meals

A window-filled addition and thoughtful remodel gave a family kitchen a chance to shine

WHEN CHRISTOPHER KOPS DECIDED to expand his Bucks County home, he thought about adding a sunroom.

But after talking to his architect, John Hubert, principal of John Hubert Architects in Wyncote, it became clear that remodeling the kitchen would provide everything


WHEN CHRISTOPHER KOPS DECIDED to expand his Bucks County home, he thought about adding a sunroom.

But after talking to his architect, John Hubert, principal of John Hubert Architects in Wyncote, it became clear that remodeling the kitchen would provide everything he needed — functionality, resale value and space to entertain.

When Kops built his home in 1995, his main goal was to find a nice suburb with a good school district for his two preschoolers, so he wouldn't have to uproot them later. “Finances were extremely tight then, and the house was a compromise,” says Kops. Eleven years later, as a vice dean at the University of Pennsylvania with two teenagers, he was feeling the constraints — and had the resources for a change.

The dining room connected to the kitchen was tiny and claustrophobic with a narrow entryway, and the kitchen was poorly laid out with almost no prep space. Hubert knocked out the dining room walls, added 600 square feet of timber frame to the house, covered it in mahogany siding and added enough glass to flood the first floor with natural light. A rarely used fireplace was replaced with a bank of windows and the back deck with a wall of French doors leading to multilevel stone patios.

A long, narrow two-tiered island stretches the length of the back window wall and holds a range and sink. Now Kops can cook while gazing out at his garden or chatting with friends and family seated at the elevated bar. Black granite counters complement Brazilian-cherry floors, maple cabinets and stainless-steel appliances, including a refrigerator, heating drawer, and convection and microwave ovens.

On cooler nights, the kids prefer to eat while watching the plasma TV that hangs above a three-sided gas fireplace that's central to the kitchen, dining area and family room. On the other side, a second flat-panel TV hangs above the fireplace facing the family room.

“I can't tell you what a difference this fireplace makes,” Kops says. “I use it all winter long and absolutely love it. It provides the ambience of a fireplace but uses natural gas so I can use a remote control instead of dragging wood around and worrying about heat escaping through the flue. There's also a fan to draw the heat into both kitchen and family room, so it's functional as well.”

During the summer, the Kops family keeps the doors open whenever possible and dines alfresco beside a new koi pond with a stream and waterfalls. Kops made sure the landscaping was easy on the upkeep as well as the eye. “I do enjoy working in the garden but my job, the kids' activities and my home on the Jersey Shore all limit the amount of time I can spend on it,” he says. Like the kitchen itself, he says, “I was looking for something beautiful, functional and low-maintenance.”

As for the teenagers of the house? “They love the new kitchen. I notice they have their friends over a lot more now,” Kops says. But they spend more time in the lower-level rooms, which were renovated at the same time as the kitchen. “I had the basement finished to give them a little privacy.”

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