Oswego, Ill. — No matter how elegant an old houses is, most women want a modern kitchen. That was what Virginia Erlanson wanted in "the Pillars," the 30-year-old home she and her family live in here.
For years she had dreamed of a kitchen in which she could look out the window from her sink, plan meals and serve them, have stereo music to listen to, and cook from a free-standing countertop, as well as display her glass and copper collections.
This may be too big a job for most do-it-yourselfers to attempt, although there may be some workable ideas for anyone who is planning to redecorate and improve the home.
Mrs. Erlanson went to Barbara Marks, an interior designer, to help plan the combination of two rooms.
"We combined the old pantry and the kitchen into a single room with the guidance of Albert Hauser, a structural engineer," explains Mrs. Marks. In order to break the wall from the adjoining rooms, in I-beam was added over the ceiling to bear the weight which the walls had carried.
Then the S-shaped counter area with its speakers and ovens atop each other could be created. At one end of the elongated "S" is the countertop range while at the other end there is room for at least five persons to sit.
Mrs. Marks wanted to retain the original colonial style of the architecture in the house, yet give Mrs. Erlanson the most modern kitchen conveniences. What she did was change the door and window arrangement and move the sink so that there is a picture window above it. She also retained the leaded-glass windows in the room.
In that way she also provided a means for Mrs. Erlanson to show her collection of glassware and copper plates and plants.
"When I plan a kitchen I always work with the big three," Mrs. Marks says, referring to the refrigerator, cooking area, and the dishwasher and sink. "I think they should be in a triangle to save the cook taking more steps than she needs to take," the designer adds.
Mrs. Marks also advises that no matter what the period of the house, the kitchen should have the most contemporary cooking technology. "You should let the life style dictate the kitchen, rather than the house style," she asserts.
The interior designer recommends a marriage between the old and the new, with the most sophisticated handling of the design. She also believes that the materials used in the renovation of the kitchen be pure.
"If you're going to use a plastic laminate, let it be the best," she declares. "It doesn't have to look like wood or marble, but like the plastic that it is.
Mrs. Erlanson likes marble, for example, so they used Vermont marble for the countertops and the table in the kitchen as well as the top of the desk that she uses to plan meals and her grocery lists.
"I thought of the plan in three ways," explains Mrs. Marks.
"First, we provided for the big three functions and an adequate amount of storage," she adds. "We provided two cooking areas so that the work can be done at different times, and ahead of the different meals served there, including breakfast and lunch."
Second, she thought of the embellishments to tie in with the rest of the house. "Mrs. Erlanson has a number of collections and so we kept the leaded glass in the kitchen and used it as a background for them," Mrs. Marks asserts.
Third, she made sure the kitchen functioned as a backup for the entertaining in the stately dining room in the home.