Authentic Italian

Kitchen revisits the owners' Italian roots in an inspired redesign

Story by Randi Jo Gause • Photography by Arctic Edge Photography

Brimming with old-world charm and character, Jim and Lori Gibertoni's renovated kitchen visually depicts the couple's connection with Jim's Italian roots – which is precisely what they envisioned when they decided to remodel the space in 2010. Their design inspiration was the culmination of a journey taken three years prior, during which they traced Jim's ancestry all the way back to Sicily.

"We found this great tile shop there and purchased the tiles behind the stove," explains Lori. "They didn't fit behind our old stove, so I just hung on to them, figuring someday we would make a picture with them."

When her husband eventually suggested they remodel the kitchen, the memory of the tiles resurfaced. The floral bouquet mural – now sitting pretty behind the stove – became the foundation of their theme for the kitchen. "The whole kitchen was really designed around those tiles," she says.

Working with the same tile company in Sicily, Lori found an artist to create accent and border tiles that match the mural for a one-of-a-kind backsplash that wraps around the kitchen beneath the cabinetry. Hand-painted Mediterranean hues are continued throughout the kitchen, creating a sense of bygone craftsmanship.

Jim, who is also vice president at Aaron Plumbing and Heating Co., served as the general contractor on the remodel, and designed the remainder of the kitchen around the tiling. "(We wanted) to end up with a kitchen that was made of commercial-grade equipment, but had some aspects that could not easily be duplicated, like the wall tiles hand-painted in Sicily," he says.

The couple selected solid cherry wood cabinets to fill the perimeter of the kitchen, and incorporated rounded corner cabinets that wrap gently into the wall to bookend each stretch of cabinetry. "While wandering through the showroom, I saw the curved cabinets and knew that's what I wanted – I love them," says Lori. Traditional-style brass fixtures in matte black embellish the cabinetry for an added rustic touch.

Beneath the cabinets, a fusion of natural stone and marble countertops in a subdued cream color are peppered with flecks of gray, tan, butterscotch and black. The mixture complements the room's color scheme without overpowering the tile backsplash. Similarly, neutral porcelain tiles underfoot take a subtle backseat allowing the wall tiles to take center stage.

A central walk-around island with surrounding barstool seating serves as the perfect communal gathering area. "With the counter seating and the island, it makes it possible to not be 'boxed in.' Even with a few extra people helping, it never feels crowded," s ays Lori.

A trio of blue drop pendant lights above the island add a splash of color and a touch of radiant glow. Complementing the pendants, under-cabinet lights help illuminate work spaces.

Beneath the kitchen's nostalgic, traditional exterior lie modern amenities that give it a more contemporary touch. Where drab cabinetry was once positioned above a dated stove and cook top, a commercial-grade range crowned by a custom-made, gleaming copper hood now sets the stage for serious cooking. "We knew we wanted a copper hood, engineered so that I could cook bacon or fish and the whole house would not smell like it," explains Lori.

A stainless steel, recessed refrigerator is stationed next to the walk-in pantry, which conceals additional storage space for appliances, along with a freezer and a second refrigerator to store extra meat and seafood.  

Since Lori has a passion for baking, the couple incorporated details that make her culinary endeavors a breeze, including a cookbook cabinet beneath the island with glass doors, and metal-lined drawers alongside the stove with sliding closures to store ingredients like flour and sugar. Next to the sink is a handy pullout spice rack, and next to the dishwasher is a pop-up mixer shelf/cabinet that makes bringing the appliance out a breeze – while saving counter space. A pot-filler faucet above the cook top allows for easily filling large pots – and the dog's water bowls.

And how does the couple feel about how the kitchen turned out? "Truly a home run," Jim says. "It offers great use of the available space, and makes me feel like I am in Sicily."