When Cobble Court Interiors designer Robert Rizzo was tasked with renovating an 1850s Georgian home in Connecticut, the clients had one overarching goal: keep the historic character of the local landmark but bring it into the 21st century. Easy enough for Rizzo, who worked with Mary Beth Oliver from Karen Berkemeyer Home and Monogram appliances to infuse modern convenience without losing the original charm.
The team restored the home’s many historic fireplaces, staircases and bedrooms and updated multiple bathrooms and other features. Having previously served as the rectory for a neighboring church, the existing 8,000-square-foot house felt business-like and compartmentalized – thus requiring a bit of demolition.
“We had to knock down several walls and gut the existing yellow kitchen to get the kitchen space,” says Rizzo of the demo that, in addition to a larger kitchen, also made way for an island, dining area, family room and butler’s pantry.
In that kitchen space, Rizzo’s clients wanted to maintain the historic vibe and add in brass and gold accents. They were the perfect details to weave into a design that Rizzo says bucked the current light-toned kitchen trend. There’s no gray and white kitchen here – instead, the large, open space features cabinets in deep, rich shades of black, mossy green and burgundy, paired with layers of texture including unlacquered brass and gold, solid woods, classic tiles, luxe drapes, lighter sheers, and antique furniture. Offset by an entire wall of windows, the darker shades offer a masculine touch that is signature to many of Rizzo’s designs.
“I enjoyed playing with the historic age of the house,” says Rizzo. “We brought in the old-world feel that the client likes through these layers of texture, and we were able to mix in today’s luxuries while keeping the historic feel.”
Early in the process, Rizzo took his clients to the nearby Monogram Design Center at Aitoro Appliance in Norwalk, Conn. The award-winning Aitoro showroom features three kitchens with more than 30 fully-functioning Monogram appliances. It’s an experience created to inspire designers and customers within any budget, empowering them to realize the room of their dreams.
It was during an Aitoro training session and cooking demo they attended that Rizzo says his clients fell in love with Monogram.
“This particular event focused heavily on the pizza oven,” says Rizzo, of the much-lauded 30” Smart Flush Heart Oven that makes so much more than pizza. “It wasn’t even in our thought process before that night, but the chef cooked everything in it for the entire night’s training, and it really caught our attention. The pizza oven is the great smash of this kitchen. You can literally cook anything in it.”
Stunned by the versatility of the hearth oven, Rizzo and his client peppered the presenter with a long list of questions. They left that evening with a full understanding of the appliance and how it could be used to elevate the client’s kitchen – and a shopping list that included the hearth oven, 48” Dual-Fuel Professional Range, Smart Refrigerator, Under Counter Wine Reserve, two dishwashers and a drawer microwave.
“It’s really fun to have an experience like that where you can take your clients to touch and feel all the pieces and ask all the questions they want,” says Rizzo.
Monogram appliances, Rizzo says, are “clean and simple looking and they are competitive on aesthetics – they have a lot to offer.” A Monogram devotee (his own kitchen features the brand’s appliances), he also appreciates how the company works directly with designers.
That benefit came through in large part because of Ria Rueda, manager of the Aitoro MDC, who helped Rizzo and his client select the Monogram options that would best work for the house and the client’s lifestyle.
“When working with clients, I always ask how they utilize the kitchen and if they cook or don’t cook, as well as what they like and don’t like about their current appliances,” explains Rueda.
She walked them step-by-step through selecting a suite of appliances that would speak to their love of cooking and entertaining without compromising the elegant or practical elements of the historic home’s aesthetic. Once the appliances installed, Rueda even came to the home in person to demonstrate how they worked.
The now fully renovated home is both a classic historic gem and a luxurious space with current amenities – and Rizzo says his clients couldn’t be happier. “I really love a space that you can walk into and enjoy the room and then the details,” says Rizzo. “I like to be enveloped by the whole thing, and I think that’s what we accomplished here. It’s a beautiful home.”