There are various types of American colonial architecture seen throughout the country. These architectural styles are associated with the colonial period of the U.S., from 1600 through the 19th century, and include several different types of building designs. In New York and New Jersey, the Dutch Colonial style reigns supreme, which was developed around 1630 when the Dutch colonists arrived. Dutch Colonial structures, built primarily in the Hudson River Valley, Long Island and northern New Jersey, were inspired by homes in Holland and Belgium, and used stone and brick extensively. Beginning as small, one-room cottages with steep roofs and second-floor lofts, these styles ultimately transformed into two-story, gable-end homes.

In central New Jersey, a hybrid of the Dutch style, known as Anglo-Dutch colonial architecture, emerged. These homes generally featured one room in the Dutch style, with later additions built in the Georgian architecture style, which highlights symmetrical and ornamental elements.

For a colonial-style residence in Hillsborough, NJ, the homeowner sought to update the main living space’s layout to incorporate more modernized features. They turned to interior architectural designer, Michele Alfano of Michele Alfano Design in Hudson Valley, NY, who helped them develop an entertainer’s kitchen and living room, with a focus on simplicity and “the important things in life.”

The new floors were clad in porcelain tile from La Fabbrica’s Lascaux series, while a custom backsplash was created using unglazed porcelain tiles from Olympia Tile + Stone’s Unicolour series.

“With all of the architectural features prominent in a colonial house, it can be difficult to imagine a modern design in its place,” Alfano said. “In this Jersey project, the focus was to create a warm but modern experience out of a kitchen with low ceilings, uneven exterior walls and an overall closed-in space. The existing kitchen felt dark and crowded. The client wanted to renovate her existing kitchen and make it feel more open -- an inviting space to entertain family and friends.

“The original floor plan was U-shaped, with a peninsula separating it from the breakfast room,” the designer explained. “The new design took down walls and enlarged the kitchen to incorporate a smart faucet that pre-measures by American Standard, large island and bar area for entertaining. The lines of the kitchen/breakfast and the family room are blurred, making the floor plan now one great room, making life easier for the homeowner who loves to entertain.”

The 600-square-foot kitchen and family room embrace a neutral, modern design, with black and walnut features throughout. The new porcelain floors, inspired by natural limestone, were implemented to “emphasize the connection among the spaces,” according to Alfano. She utilized 12- x 24-inch tiles from La Fabbrica’s Lascaux collection in the “Capri” color, with a matte finish.

“The kitchen’s new light-colored, plank-style floors and white ceiling needed to be warmed up to meet the client’s requirements, so furniture-like cabinetry with flat black and a natural walnut wood veneer added warmth and personality to the modern space,” Alfano added.
To complement the light floors, Alfano created a custom backsplash using 2- x 12-inch unglazed porcelain tiles from Olympia Tile + Stone’s Unicolour series in the color, “Light Grey,” with a matte finish.

“Turning this traditional kitchen into a modern space had its challenges,” Alfano said. “Since the exterior walls were not totally straight, tiling the custom 2- x 12-inch porcelain tiles stacked on the backsplash was difficult and resulted in uneven areas and large grout spacing. It took multiple attempts to get it right.”

For the traditional fireplace nearby in the living room, Alfano updated the look using Dekton and Sapienstone ultra-compact surfaces. “This original white brick fireplace was replaced with a modern one framed by two types of porcelain slabs from Dekton and SapienStone, one dark stone named Kelya -- a feature echoed in the kitchen,” she said. “Another architectural statement added to accomplish this was a stepped ceiling over the entire kitchen and family room. This modern detail adds depth, connects the spaces and makes the area feel larger than it is.”

The entire renovation took around one year to complete and the client is overjoyed with her new space. “My new space gives me the feeling of joy every time I walk into it,” she said. “It’s light and bright, which makes me feel lighter. The layout makes it so much easier for prepping and cooking, and the open space now into the family room makes it easy to entertain while cooking. I love working in this space now that I’m working from home because it’s so peaceful and light. A recent bonus I discovered, my island counter height is perfect for standing and typing so I don’t wind up sitting all day. It’s made the social distancing so much easier; I truly do love it.”

Private Residence

Hillsborough, NJ

Interior Architectural Designer: Michele Alfano Design, LLC, Hudson Valley, NY

General Contractor: Bill Ruscher General Contracting LLC, Easton, PA

Tile Supplier: KJ Tiles Co., Monsey, NY (La Fabbrica’s Lascaux series and Olympia Tile + Stone’s Unicolour series)

Tile Installer: Artistic Tile Installation, Monsey, NY

Cabinetry Installer: Five Star Millwork, Pearl River NY

Stone Fabricator and Installer: Faithful Countertops, Paterson, NJ