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When a space doesn’t work for your family, you feel it daily. Homeowners Joe DiGiorgio and Ali Pugliese learned that quickly when it came to their dysfunctional Mount Kisco home. 

“Our house was built in the 50s, and our kitchen reflected a country style,” Pugliese says. “The cabinets were all wood, and you had to use your full body weight to pull out a drawer. We have two small children, so having a functional space was critical for us,” she adds.

The couple wanted an island facing the living area, so they could prep and cook while keeping on eye on the kids. Plus, they planned to keep the island counter height and purchase child-friendly stools that were both comfortable and durable. 

As they also love to cook and entertain, they wanted to make the home liveable yet stylish. Upon move-in, the home’s aesthetic wasn’t quite the right fit for their clean Scandinavian leanings. “There was a lot of wood, heavy fixtures, and very low ceilings,” Pugliese recalls. Not to mention, the walls were coated in approximately four layers of wallpaper.”

Keep it Bright

What they wanted was a modern, bright, and approachable design to reflect their minimalist lifestyle. “Light was incredibly important to us,” she says. “We achieved this by raising the kitchen ceiling and removing the wall between the kitchen and dining area.”

Design by Joe DiGiorgio and Ali Pugliese; Photography by Kate Jordan

Modern flat-panel cabinets, Salt Slab from BOXI by Semihandmade in matte white, also played a large role in brightening the space, since the slab design feels modern and clean, she explains. Everything she had initially looked at reminded her of her parent’s home. Think dated wood finishes, plus long lead times that would have them out of their kitchen eight to 12 weeks at minimum. BOXI, on the other hand, were easy to order and the installation process was seamless. 

Add Back Depth

To keep the space from feeling stark and add a touch of warmth, the couple made sure to add in some earth tones via the hanging pendant lights and open shelving, which are made from a solid slab of red oak to tie into the tone of the wood floor. Behind the island (near the dining table), they wanted to create a built-in buffet, combining form and function, and used upper cabinets mounted on a pedestal. Now, the cabinets don’t protrude into the room and are at the same height as the rest of the kitchen.

Design by Joe DiGiorgio and Ali Pugliese; Photography by Kate Jordan

Double the Convenience

For ease, they also designed a mudroom and laundry area. “For the mudroom, we wanted to optimize the very small space and keep it open, but still visually appealing,” she says. “We added a partial wall to hide the washer and dryer and serve as a separation for the two spaces.” Since this is the entryway to the home, it serves as a place where the family can drop their things, store coats, as well as the children’s backpacks, shoes, and more. 

It’s OK to Splurge

Overall, both the setup in the kitchen and mudroom is exactly what they need, and includes family-friendly items like pull-out interior drawers for storage, kid’s cups, and more. But, the renovation wasn’t purely planned for practicality. Pugliese and Di Giorgio splurged on a few big impact items like the pendants and chairs, then saved on those that were less noticeable. “We kept old appliances that could be reused and sourced locally when possible (floor and countertops),” she says. 

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