home&garden NEW JERSEY
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED Carol Miller waited nearly 40 years for her dream kitchen. What does she like most? “My favorite part is everything,” she says.
Right: The mudroom entry was on Tom’s wish list. Carol found the leather stools after spotting them in a magazine article.
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living space. The living room became a
place for the boys’ toys. The high-traffic
kitchen continued to wear down, but
with Tom’s business growing, there was
no time for a project at home.
Undeterred, Carol, a Pilates instruc-
tor, continued to dream about her ideal
kitchen. She wanted a large island
“where we could all hang out as a fam-
ily,” and a seating area off the kitchen so
she wouldn’t be alone while preparing
meals. She leaned toward a warm style,
in contrast to the contemporary vibe of
the rest of the house. “I went through
so many magazines taking ideas,” Carol
says. “Tom always wanted a mudroom, I
always wanted a nook. We went back and
forth about adding on.”
Inspiration finally came from a
magazine article Carol happened upon in
2009. It was precisely what she wanted.
“That magazine became our blueprint,”
says Tom. Carol even contacted the
Michigan architect who designed the
space, then dilligently searched out her
own products and finishes.
With the magazine article as his template, Tom and their three sons, Chris,
Dan and Thomas, began the project.
(Chris, now 33, and Dan, 35, are both
carpenters and work with their father
full-time. Their older brother, Thomas,
37, is also in construction. All three live
The team bumped out an exterior
wall to enlarge the kitchen space and
add that mudroom Tom always wanted
and the nook on Carol’s wish list. All the
carpentry was done in their adjacent
garage. “We built every cabinet and every
molding,” Tom says. “We cut every single
piece of wood.”
For the cabinets, they worked with
sapele mahogany, an African hard-
wood known for its rich, dark tone; and
maple, which they lacquered white for
contrast. “It was an ambitious project,”
says Tom. Lighting of the glass-front
cabinets adds to the drama. Brass cabi-
net pulls were handmade in Vermont,
the same hardware pictured in the
The beam over the cooktop alcove was
also made from Sapele mahogany; it’s
actually two-by-four lumber rather than
a solid beam. “It’s just a header mitered
into place,” says Tom. He gave the wood
a coat of polyurethane varnish, and then
methodically worked it for an aged look.
“I took a paint scraper along the grains
to make it look like an old beam,” he says.
The surround is constructed of Fond du
Lac stone and ledgestone.
After searching high and low, the Mill-
ers decided on leathered ubatuba granite
for the counters and marinace granite for
the center island. “It looks like a river-
bed,” says Carol. And, she adds, “it doesn’t
While taking inspiration from the
magazine article, the Millers added some
personal touches. “The magazine had
hardwood floors,” says Carol. “I like that
look, but with the constant traffic and
the two dogs, upkeep was not practical.”
So the couple decided on porcelain tile
floors, with radiant heating built in. Tom
custom mixed the grout. “We wanted our
own color, and we didn’t want big grout
joints,” he says.
Tom nixed a few of Carol’s ideas, but
she quickly got over that. “My favorite
part of this kitchen is everything,” she
Tom Miller General Contracting, Point Pleasant; 732-
614-1980 or 732-899-9298.