‘Espress’ Yourself

The Chang Family found the kitchen that expressed their style the most, renovating their 1890 kitchen in Adelphi Kitchens and Cabinetry’s custom-made Espresso.

Home is where families should feel most comfortable. It’s a foundation that houses years of memories, a place for families to grow. So when Kristen and Jhoon Chang decided to purchase a new home, they planned to really make it their own. “My husband and I are big believers in finding your own style, customizing your home,” said Chang.

Originally built as a farmhouse in 1890, the home caught the attention of the couple, purchasing it over two years ago. Located in Ardmore, Pa., just outside Philadelphia, the couple knew that renovations were in the plans. Yet the project didn’t get a jumpstart until nine months after moving in, after Kristen found out she was pregnant.

With a child on the way, the Chang’s renovations consisted of building on a family room and breakfast room, as well as remodeling the kitchen and mudroom located in the back of the house. Both Kristen and her husband grew up in homes that were very open and family accessible. But their new home was just the opposite. “You could not see any other rooms from the kitchen,” explained Chang.

For a year, Kristen had been tearing pages out of magazines in preparation of the anticipated renovation – collecting pictures of everything from door styles to hardware. With the existing kitchen being very narrow and long, the Changs planned on having it U-shaped. “We had a wish list. We knew what we liked, and what we didn’t like,” said Kristen.

The Door to Inspiration

The property was originally built in 1890 as a farm house, and the Changs didn’t want to lose that traditional feel. They hired Gardner/Fox, a full service design and build firm, to provide the initial design for their new kitchen and family room. The couple felt it was important to hire this firm so the architect could be on-site with the contractors throughout the entire building process. After they drew up the initial designs, Gardner/Fox gave the Changs a list of recommended suppliers for the other aspects of their remodel—from cabinetry to appliances and lighting.

Since Kristen and Jhoon had a concrete idea of what they wanted, they began the meeting with suppliers to select for the renovation. After interviewing several other cabinetry suppliers, the Changs met with Stratton Yatron, co-owner and designer of Adelphi Kitchens & Cabinetry, a high quality custom cabinetry manufacturer in Robesonia, Pennsylvania. Yatron introduced the Changs to Adelphi and took the Changs on a tour of the 160,000 square foot facility where the couple watched craftsmen perfect their trade and saw an endless array of styles, stains and wood grains to make a custom look for any home.

After the tour and meeting with Yatron, the couple felt at ease with Adelphi’s product and process. The Changs chose Adelphi, knowing their designers quality craftsmen would work with them to create the unique look they’ve been searching for. Kristen brought her binder to show Yatron the samples and tear sheets from magazines that inspired her. She was thrilled with the enthusiasm that Adelphi showed toward accommodating their ideas into the kitchen design. “[Adelphi] wasn’t trying to fit us into what they had on the table. They knew we wanted something very specific,” said Chang.

“A lot of what was featured [in magazines and in showrooms] was white kitchens,” noted Kristen. This only reinforced the couple’s desire to do something different—something dark. While they wanted a dark finish, the modern look of most dark kitchens made them uneasy. Adelphi reassured the Changs that their kitchen could be customized with a dark finish while keeping the integrity of its 19th century design and feel. The couple selected a beaded inset style, called Legacy One, and the Adelphi designer handed them a book of paint samples. The Changs immediately dipped into the rich browns and settled on “Espresso” which would be hand painted on white birch wood for an especially dramatic effect.

Adelphi mixed the color for them and mailed a sample of the cabinet to the Changs’ home. “They sent us the entire door, but we never once made changes to the color. It was exactly what we wanted,” said Kristen.

Constructing a Design That Lasts

The actual construction on the house began in April when the Changs’ daughter started daycare. Immediately contractors discovered that the back of the house lacked a foundation—a standard problem for houses built in the late 1800s. Gardner/Fox arranged for structural engineers and contractors to hand-pour foundation pillars, adding an extra two weeks to the start of the kitchen renovation. For the next four months, the rest of the renovation was smooth sailing. Gardner/Fox and its partners including Adelphi worked seamlessly on day-to-day installation details, keeping construction and budget on track for the home owners.

Adelphi adhered to traditional hardware and added triple-crown molding to the tops of the cabinets that accentuated the high ceilings. This not only kept the feel of the house, but made the narrow kitchen appear taller and gave the allusion of more space in the kitchen.

Without much storage space for their kitchenware, the Changs wanted to use what space they had wisely. “My husband and I both cook—my husband more than me,” admits Kristen. “So wherever there was dead space, we wanted to add a cabinet.” Adelphi maximized every inch of the room, leaving the kitchen open and uncluttered. One of the more unique features is the island in the center of the kitchen, which cleverly hides the microwave on a sliding drawer and houses a wine cooler.

Fulfilling the Changs’ wish for a kitchen focal point, Adelphi built a counter-to-ceiling hutch. Adorned with a glass door, the hutch makes a decorative display of their dishes and fine glassware.

Stylish, Spacious Living At Last

By mid-August, Kristen and Jhoon finally had the unique, customized home they had been hoping for. It’s no longer a blank canvas, but a stylishly traditional, open environment for their family. There is also much more room to entertain. Guests can stand at the island, by the bar, or even in the remodeled family room.

Adelphi Kitchens & Cabinetry’s beaded inset in the Legacy 1 Style is shown in white birch wood garnished in an Espresso finish. Photo Courtesy of Gardner/Fox.

The Changs receive many compliments on their new Adelphi “Espresso” kitchen, especially on the hutch-style cabinet. Paired with chrome hardware and all new stainless steel kitchen appliances, the dark Espresso cabinets create a striking contrast against the white granite Kashmir countertops, Vintage grey crackle subway tile on the backsplash and the original antique heart pine floors refinished in dark amber. The walls are painted a soft sage green, which is the accent color splashed throughout the kitchen in small doses, making it a striking, classic look to an old home. Glass bell-shaped lighting over the island and a silk drum shade over the breakfast table give the final touches to the Changs’ custom kitchen renovation.

After a well-prepared renovation plan and a relatively smooth installation, the Changs finally had the home that reflected their style, where they can enjoy their young family and entertain friends. The Changs feel content “just knowing that we have a new area of our home that is good for both everyday living and entertainment.”


Adelphi Kitchens & Cabinetry was founded by four brothers in 1946 in a small garage behind their home. Today, their descendants own and manage the company and have more than 220 dealers across the nation, some dating back to the late fifties. With a work force of 120 skilled artisans, Adelphi produces approximately 60 custom kitchens each week in its modern 160,000-square-foot facility on 20-acres in Robesonia, Pa. Visit adelphikitchens.com  to locate American dealers or access cabinetry and hardware selector tools, photo galleries and information on fine custom cabinetry.


Founded in 1987, Gardner/Fox Associates is a full-service design/build construction firm based in suburban Philadelphia. With one vision, Gardner/Fox operates its residential and commercial client divisions with the philosophy: to exceed the client’s expectation for the design and construction of their project through the highest level of professionalism, teamwork and craftsmanship. The company was listed on the Qualified Remodeler magazine’s Top 500 Remodelers list for 2007, named the Top Performer in Light Commercial, and was recognized as one of the 20 best-performing remodelers among firms nationwide.