A Festive Holiday Kitchen

When a Connecticut couple redid their kitchen, it became the whole family’s favorite holiday hangout. HGTV Magazine got the grand tour.

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Jessica Antola


Most days Robin and Ken Gestal’s kitchen is where the couple cooks and eats dinner together, just the two of them. But come Christmastime, their six grown kids descend on their New Canaan, CT, home from all over the country. The room wasn’t always this welcoming. When the Gestals bought the 1910 Colonial, the kitchen was the last place they wanted to be. "It was completely dated, with ugly white tile countertops, wood cabinets that had a strange shiny finish, and a stove with only two working burners," says Robin. So the Gestals worked with designer Christine Donner to give the space a roomier layout, updated features, and lots of warm, homey accents.

Granite Countertops
Honed black granite counters line the kitchen’s perimeter. "Granite has a simple look, but it’s hardy," says Robin. "It’s fine to put hot things right on it, and I just wipe it down with soap and water."

Reclaimed Wood
Three of the wood ceiling beams were in the kitchen when the family moved in. The Gestals kept them and added a matching perpendicular beam. The original pine floors—which had been scratched up by the family’s dogs—had to go. Robin replaced them with tougher flooring made from reclaimed heart pine.

Cookbook Library
Custom shelving next to the refrigerator holds Robin’s cookbook collection and hides a big set of steel pipes. "We created a cabinet space about as deep as the refrigerator. The books sit up front, and the pipes take up the back half," says Christine.

Corner Ovens
Much of the wall space was taken up with windows. To keep the ovens near the cooktop, they were installed in a corner at an angle, a trick you can get away with in a roomy space.

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