Best Renovated Kitchen

Studio d’ARC transformed a separate kitchen and formal dining room into a spacious, Scandinavian-inspired space.
St James 2


When Rob and Barb Spagiare told Debbie Battistone, the project manager at Studio d’ARC on the South Side, and Gerard Damiani, the design principal, the goals for their kitchen renovation, the two knew how to give the Spagiares their dream kitchen — and their future dream home.

It involved knocking down walls.

“We set up a kind of master vision for the whole home to phase the work over a number of years,” says Damiani. “This renovation is the first part of a long-term renovation and working on the house and the landscape.”

For this first phase, the designers enlarged the existing kitchen by eliminating a wall that separated it from the dining room. They also improved the connection to, and accessibility of, the kitchen to the other rooms of the Fox Chapel home and replaced the windows, adding more natural light. The work was designed to transform the room into a Scandinavian-inspired oasis.

Barb, whose family is Dutch, says every time the couple visits Holland they admire the architecture there, including the lights, windows and simple colors. “It’s less decoration, with function and simple lines being the highlight of the design,” she says.

St James 4

Named Pittsburgh Magazine HOME’s 2020 Best of Design Award winner for Best Renovated Kitchen, the design was praised by the contest’s judges.

“This space was an obvious choice as the winner for Best Renovated Kitchen due to the flawless execution of materials and creative repurposing of smaller rooms into a cohesive whole,” says Stephanie Schill Hayden, a registered architect at Schill Architecture in Cleveland. “I was immediately drawn to the aesthetic balance of the design; sleek cabinetry in light wood tones offered a contemporary look without feeling cold. I also thought it was brilliant to incorporate a dining area into an island to make a somewhat narrow space functional for a family and feel very open.”

The kitchen primarily consists of white oak plywood with a transparent white stain. The drawers have custom pulls made from steel channel and painted white. It also features white countertops and a charcoal porcelain floor tile.

“In this house, we created a modern contemporary kitchen and dining room that highlights a stronger relationship to the rest of the home and a strong relationship to the landscape,” Damiani says.

In addition to the aesthetic renovations, the kitchen also had other pragmatic needs, namely creating concealed storage space.

“There’s a lot more storage, integrated storage that you don’t see unless you open or slide a door,” says Battistone. “It was also making it more of a communal space; it can be informal or you can have a larger group as well.”

These days, the kitchen is the Spagiare family’s most popular hangout. “I spend 80 percent of the time in the kitchen now,” Rob says.


  • Architectural and Interior Design: Studio d’ARC Architects, P.C.
  • General Contractor: Jeffery M. Smith Construction
  • Electric: Ewing Building Services
  • Plumbing: Weibel Plumbing Co.
  • Cabinetry: Kramer Kustom
  • Hardware: Kramer Kustom (cabinet pulls, custom fabricated channel steel), Artisan Hardware (barn door), Deltana Hardware (soss hinges, accuride glides), Johnson Hardware, (rev-a-shelf), Hafele (kitchen accessories)
  • Appliances: Don’s Appliances
  • Fixtures: Ferguson Enterprises (plumbing fixtures), Hite Co. (Kohler Kitchen vault undermount sink and Purist pull-out faucet, insinkerator disposal with sinktop switch, Hubbel pop-up receptacles)
  • Lighting: Halo Lighting (recessed lights), France & Son (Aksel pendant lamps), Hafele (undercounter: Loox Led Lighting System)
  • Flooring: Schluter Ditra-Heat Floor Warming
  • Countertops: Ultimate Granite & Stone
  • Windows: Andersen E-Series From 84 Lumber
  • Doors: Kramer Kustom
  • Furnishings: Chairs/stools provided by owner
  • Tile: Tile & Designs, Inc.; Emerald Art Glass, Inc. (custom glass backsplash behind cooktop)
Categories: Best of Design, HOME + Design