A Kitchen with Saltbox Style in Doylestown, PA

September 2009: Custom cabinets, with custom painted and glazed finishes, are the heart and highlight of this country kitchen.

This house, located in Bucks County PA, was constructed of refurbished materials from actual New England saltboxes. Except for the kitchen cabinetry and bathrooms, it was an exact replica of the famous “Stencil House” in CT, and was profiled in “Art & Antiques” magazine in 1996.

The new owners wanted to update the kitchen and make it a functional work space, but in a style which would work with the rest of the décor of the house. They wanted to save as much of the cabinetry as possible, but, as it was a small space, they also needed maximum storage opportunities. They also wanted the ability to add high-end appliances. They considered traditional kitchen cabinet refinishing, but since they also wanted the architecture of the cabinetry to have a bit more style, this approach wasn’t really an option. Traditional kitchen cabinet refacing was also considered, but then rejected, because they also wanted custom painted and distressed finishes.


Before: The cabinets butt up against the window frame, reducing the natural light available to enter the space. The cabinets boxes were solid wood and in good condition, although the doors were plain, flat panel.

The cabinets were reconfigured and a few new ones were built. Shelving replaced the cabinets alongside the window, opening up the space for more natural light. All of the high-end decorative details were added, such as crowns, light rail moldings, side panels, and a pair of appliance garages. All kinds of appliances were installed, including a steam oven and induction cook top. The new counter is Black Galaxy granite.


New, unfinished doors replaced the old ones, and they were given an inset look upon installation, a style more appropriate for the home’s primitive country décor. The finish on most of the cabinets was a beige green glaze with faint pearlescent highlights. The cabinets under the farm sink and the peninsula were a distressed cream with brown glaze.


Because storage space was at a premium, we snuck “secret compartments” into the side panels of some of the cabinets. The peninsula top, which folds out for extra surface area, is distressed mahogany stained with dark walnut, as is the framing of the pass through, which leads into the custom-built butler’s pantry. The backsplash tiles are from the Moravian Tile Works, in Doylestown, PA.


The pass-through to the left of the cook top leads to a butler’s pantry. In that area, which was approximately 5 feet by 11 feet, we built custom cabinetry, complete with a wine cooler and overhead wine glass storage. The focal point of the space was an antique carved mantle. We fixed it, gave it a new finish which highlighted the carvings on it, and used it to frame the opening to the kitchen. The distressed, cream finish is perfect for the area, as it receives a great deal of foot traffic.