From Historic Ballroom to Modern Kitchen

A renovation that will make a difference ‘for generations to come’

Alston Thomas Photography

Ask any architect and they’ll tell you even a simple kitchen renovation can present obstacles. Tackling the project in a centuries-old historic landmark? Well that takes the challenges to a whole new level.

“Being in a historic house definitely limited our renovation options,” says Andrea Erda, referring to the 18th-century Virginia estate where she lives with husband, Rob, and their three children. Erda grew up in the home, known as Historic Westover, and she moved her own family there in 2012.

Upon moving in, everything about the Georgian-style estate was gorgeous and grand — except the kitchen.

“It was super narrow, and it was always the coldest and hottest room in the house,” she says. The family was limited to made minor upgrades, such as fresh paint and new fixtures, due to the constraints of the space.

They knew they needed a larger kitchen, but a historic easement prevented major structural changes such as tearing down walls. They would have to get creative.

The Erdas brought in a team of architects, one of whom made a suggestion that changed the trajectory of the project: Build a brand-new kitchen in the ballroom.

“That was the impetus to really be bold in our thinking,” Erda says, “and then we moved on from there.”

Alston Thompson Photography

An extraordinary space

The ballroom is located in a section of Historic Westover that was “burned to the ground by a cannon in 1862,” according to Erda. It was rebuilt around 1900, and “it’s just an extraordinary space.”

The large room has six enormous windows that face the James River, along with lovely architectural details such as paneled walls, columns and plaster ceilings.

“When we thought about putting the kitchen in this space, we realized what a difference it could make for our family for generations to come,” Erda says.

Construction began in January 2020, and after five months, the transformation was complete. “Once we figured out where to put the kitchen, the design was fairly straightforward since we weren’t moving any walls.”

Alston Thompson Photography

History meets state-of-the-art

In planning the new kitchen, they were adamant that the room’s rich architectural details and natural beauty remain intact.

“We wanted people to go, ‘Wow, what a beautiful room!’ And then go, ‘Wow, look at that: They put a kitchen in there.’”

The end result is a space that effortlessly intertwines historic architecture, relaxed furnishings, luxury finishes and state-of-the-art appliances.

Natural light pours through original windows, none of which are obstructed. “We wanted to capitalize on all the views, so we didn’t want anything above the height of the windows.”

A 13-foot quartzite island is the kitchen’s “social center,” particularly for Erda’s pre-teen and teenage children. It’s a spot for family dinners, homework and even the occasional jigsaw puzzle. A fireplace flanked by wingback chairs is the perfect spot to relax after dinner.

The kitchen is bright, clean and traditional, featuring warm brass and unlacquered finishes. “We didn’t want anything shiny or new — that’s not us,” Erda says. “It feels harmonious with the rest of the house and has a timeless, classic feel.”

Alston Thompson Photography

‘What a gift’

When it came to appliances, the Erdas followed the suggestion of renowned designer Mark Epstein, who worked on the project. His recommendation: Monogram.

“I am not a name brand person at all; I couldn’t care less about that. But I am a user of products and a big cook, so I needed something that would hold up to that,” says Erda. “Our Monogram products have been great. We are very pleased with the quality.” 

Their kitchen island includes a 48-inch gas range, which Erda loves for both its function and form: “It was exciting to find such a high-quality line that looked so nice and not too industrial.” The island also features a beverage center and drawer microwave.

A 24-inch integrated column refrigerator and two smart, fully integrated dishwashers blend seamlessly with creamy white cabinetry. And then there’s the column freezer, which is built into a custom-made light-blue china cabinet: “It’s really a statement piece.”

“A friend just told me I should be a spokesperson for Monogram because I speak so highly of my appliances,” jokes Erda. But in all seriousness, she says the new kitchen has been life-changing for their family.

“It sounds cliché to say it’s transformational, but it really is. We are in here all the time. We’re a family that eats every single breakfast and dinner together, and during the pandemic, most lunches, too,” she says. “It’s just a great place to be together. I mean really, what a gift.”

Alston Thompson Photography

Read Part 1 — A Historic Kitchen Renovation

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