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Bridging Traditional and Contemporary
Impressions Kitchen & Bath Design
Impressions Kitchen & Bath Design

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“Transitional design takes the stuffiness out of traditional style and the coldness out of hard-edged contemporary style and creates an energetic and vibrant feeling”

Bridging Traditional and Contemporary

Impressions Kitchen & Bath Design

Some of the most exciting rooms in homes today are expressions of transitional designs, born of the tension between old and new, ornate and clean-cut. But transitional style is more than merely exciting. It can also be very practical because it fearlessly borrows from both traditional and contemporary options.

Tradition is always evolving. By reaching into the past, we create the future. Today’s homeowners are highly educated and confident about mixing styles. Even committed traditionalists, however, are eager to make their homes more comfortable by incorporating sophisticated technology.

Transitioning from traditional to contemporary

Transitional design takes the stuffiness out of traditional style and the coldness out of hard-edged contemporary style and creates an energetic and vibrant feeling, says architect Darren P. Mercer, RA. Combining contemporary and traditional designs can bring out the best qualities of each, but, he adds, it requires thoughtful planning, attention to detail and an eye for balance.

Although he had been deeply involved in designing and building custom homes in traditional-styles, Mercer was eager to use his talent and experience to create a different sort of home—one that combined traditional and contemporary styles, as well as innovative technology, in a sophisticated, yet understated way.

A recent project—a 6,000 square foot, shingle-style spec home in the Deep Woods Development in Bedford, New York—provided Mercer with an opportunity to work closely with the developer to design and build a transitional-style residence that employed new and innovative products and materials.

The essence of the transitional style is increasing design options. It allows designers to provide a client a unique blend of the past and present, one that is tailored to the taste and lifestyle of the individual homeowner. It’s a setting where Brizo is very much at home.

Brizo hits the sweet spot for this home

Among the products Mercer especially wanted to use were bathroom and kitchen fixtures from Brizo, because, he says “Brizo has a clean, fresh design with traditional influences: It looks contemporary, yet references older fixtures, too.”

Mercer opted to use Brizo fixtures in the stunning master bath, as well as in four additional bathrooms, two powder rooms and a kitchen designed for a gourmet cook.

The expansive master bath in the home is designed to create a spa feeling. The shower and water closet are arranged on either side of the spacious air-jet tub. Frosted glass is used to provide privacy for the water closet. Statuary marble, which Mercer says is a beautifully understated material and a step up from Carrerra marble, is used on the floor as well as the tub deck.

The tub fixtures are all in Brilliance® Polished Nickel from Brizo’s Providence™ Classic Bath Collection. So are the double vanity fixtures, the shower fixtures and all the bathroom accessories such as towel bars and the double robe hook. The shower system is a Total Escape Custom Shower® in Brilliance Polished Nickel.

Mercer says he selected the polished nickel finish because it’s warmer than chrome. “Using these Brizo fixtures helped us to incorporate a transitional style that borrows elements from both traditional (cross handles) and contemporary (nickel finish) designs,” he observes.

The home’s gourmet kitchen features Brizo’s trendsetting Pascal® Culinary Faucet with SmartTouch™ technology. Pascal’s hands-free technology is really designed with the serious gourmet cook in mind, says Mercer. It allows people to do a lot of food preparation work without touching the faucet, thus enhancing cleanliness and hygiene by minimizing cross-contamination.

The traditionally styled Stratford® Classic Kitchen with cross handles is the other kitchen faucet. It complements Pascal, and is another example of how Mercer mixes traditional and contemporary elements in the home.

Like the master bath, the kitchen combines contemporary and traditional styles. Both sinks are traditional farmer’s sinks, but Mercer chose to use stainless steel rather than porcelain.

The kitchen island is statuary marble and all the countertops are granite. The simple, recessed cabinetry doors are natural cherry. Mercer used bin pulls for the cabinet knobs, another reference back to traditional styles.

“This is a cook’s kitchen with plenty of prep space and storage,” says Mercer. But while he says it’s not meant to be too fancy, he adds that, “You could certainly see yourself whipping up some good meals there.”

Building on historic influences

A project architect and partner, at Ralph R. Mackin Jr Architects, PLLC, AIA in North Salem, New York, Mercer, 47, earned his degree in architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, but began working in the field when he was still a 19 year-old college student.

Mackin Architects is known for creating structures rich in historical references—both in renovations and new construction—while simultaneously providing beautifully planned living spaces for today’s lifestyles. When it was first formed, the firm worked on simple additions, but as it began to design and build custom homes Mercer says it also became necessary to present interior design options to clients.

In addition to designing and detailing the entire exterior of a building, the firm also designs all the interior elevations including cabinets and trim details such as wainscoting, stairs, kitchens, media rooms and paneled studies.

“Our interior design focus is built-in and attached features like cabinetry, flooring and plumbing fixtures, not soft things like furniture and drapes,” Mercer explains.

Mercer says Mackin Architects has worked on about 50 homes in the past decade—primarily in Westchester County, Western Connecticut and the Adirondacks. Approximately half of them have been renovations and half have been new construction. Typically, new homes have a classic, historic look and tend to be on larger than average pieces of property.

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