Old World Look for a New World Condo

Ornate, oversized furniture and trim lavish Old World charm on a condo kitchen designed by Connie Schey.
By: Rose Kennedy
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old_world_look_kitchenrk_1

Intricately carved wood molding is a standout in this kitchen.

Intricately carved wood molding is a standout in this kitchen.

When the architectural molding company she was working with didn't have carved table legs thick enough to suit designer Connie Schey's needs, she opted to use fireplace columns beneath the kitchen bar and table in an Old World kitchen design.

"I kind of made that up," says Connie, who felt like she needed the heft and the ornamentation to continue a theme she developed with lots of ornate molding, distressed cabinets and a Jerusalem stone floor.

Connie, a designer for Insignia Kitchen and Bath in Barrington, Ill., shares the story of this unusual design and gives tips for bringing a similar look to a more modest kitchen:

The biggest challenge to the charming design: "I was working on a kitchen in a condo on the 10th floor in a building with no construction elevators," she says. "I was running up and down the stairs carrying 12-foot pieces of molding and I had to split the cabinet to fit it into the ordinary elevator. Plus, the place was 45 years old and I wasn't able to move any plumbing for the design."

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old_world_look_kitchenrk_3

A bar area flanks one side of the island, perfect for entertaining.

A bar area flanks one side of the island, perfect for entertaining.

"If you love the pretty carvings, keep in mind that molding doesn't have to be so awful big as the stuff I used in this design," says Connie. "For smaller kitchens, you can pick out smaller patterns, ropes and beads and vines. Look for what you need at a molding company — there are lots of them listed in the back of kitchen and bath magazines. Then you have them ship your pick to the cabinet company to finish."

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old_world_look_kitchenrk_2

Jerusalem stone in five different sizes makes for a unique floor.

Jerusalem stone in five different sizes makes for a unique floor.

"You can't find this chunky, Old World look at Home Depot," says Connie, adding that you don't want to skimp on the cabinets if you're going for dramatic, heavy molding. You can, however, balance the budget on other points, including substituting more modest cream-colored tiles for the Jerusalem stone and using Silestone in place of the granite counters. "That could cut your price by as much as $10,000," she says.

Get inspired, but keep it real: "More (today) than at any time, you can see so many beautiful kitchens on television and in magazines," she says. "But be realistic about how much those things might cost — even when they quote a budget, it might cost much more in your area. You just have to be prepared to balance what is most important to you with what you can do without."

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old_world_look_kitchenrk_4

Two-toned cabinets add to the rustic design.

Two-toned cabinets add to the rustic design.

Try two cabinet colors at home: Connie mixed two cabinet colors in the same kitchen and says this is becoming a more and more popular design option. "Just make sure to have one cabinet in a dominant color — in this design that was green — and the second in a light, airy finish. Don't try to mix brown and green or red and blue."

Five different-sized floor tiles (don't try this alone): In keeping with her Old World theme, Connie employed a Jerusalem stone floor that pulled together five different size tiles. "That's a wonderful look but way too difficult for someone who's just starting out as a tile installer," she says. "You'd want professional installation for something that ambitious in your kitchen."

Meet the designer: Connie Schey has been designing for 20 years, most recently on the staff at Insignia Kitchen and Bath in Barrington, Ill. "I love what I do," she says. "I particularly like contemporary design, but really I just love it all."

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