Karen Williams Project Diary: an English Castle in Westchester

Last but not least is the bar area Karen Williams designed for the renovation of the English castle. It incorporates a pewter top handmade in France, and a highly custom base built by fine Pennsylvania Amish craftspeople.

English castle bar install

The base of the bar designed by Karen Williams to integrate with the style of the English castle is installed by St. Charles of New York craftsmen.

bar detail

Elegant detailed carving highlights the bar.

pewter bar top

The pewter bar top, hand made in France, is installed.

counter in france

The pewter bar countertop as it was being made by hand in an atelier in France.

bar edge detail

The edge of the bar features beautiful details.

bar edge detail

The bar top was first fabricated from wood, then the pewter was applied using old world French craftsmanship.

Finding just the right resources, creating the perfect design and then managing the entire process is what distinguishes St. Charles of New York. It’s no wonder clients return to them regularly for new projects.

A Rainy Weekend in Strawberry Season

The bad news, it rained this weekend. The good news, it’s strawberry season! The farm stands are bursting with fruit at the peak of perfection which I couldn’t resist. So I took advantage of the opportunity to make strawberry ice cream, strawberry sorbet and strawberry buttercream.


Fresh from the farmers' market, strawberries this weekend were just right for sorbet, ice cream and buttercream.

The strawberry butter cream recipe is one of my favorites from Martha Stewart and starts with whisking egg whites and sugar, then adding butter and finally strawberry puree. It’s fabulous on cupcakes. Here’s a link to the recipe http://bit.ly/jgFvbK. Enjoy!

Karen Williams Project Diary: an English Castle in Westchester

After months in the works, the new kitchen area has come together beautifully. There are still a lot of finishing touches to be done, but here’s a first look at the project.

English castle kitchen

The kitchen is finally installed in the English castle, but there is still more work to be done including finishing up the electrical, installing decorative hardware and more.

English castle perspective

The plan has come to life, with a few modifications along the way as ideas evolved.

Counter detail

Careful attention to details such as this precise corner is a hallmark of St. Charles of New York kitchens.

   pantry side

Another special feature of the kitchen is this recessed pantry with contrasting doors.

pantry interior

Fitted with convenient roll-outs, shelves and small drawers, the pantry interior is as good looking as it is functional.

Next up: A look at the fabulous pewter bar area.

Karen Williams Project Diary: an English Castle in Westchester

Ordered months ago, the French La Cornue Chateau range, and the highly custom cabinetry from Amish craftsmen in Pennsylvania have all been carefully fabricated and meticulously inspected, with Karen Williams fielding questions and coordinating details all along.

Now their delivery to Westchester has finally been orchestrated, along with myriad other products for the renovation. The big day has arrived and the kitchen is set to be installed by the highly experienced team of St. Charles of New York craftsmen.

La Cornue delivery

Hand-crafted in France, the La Cornue Chateau range arrives at the Westchester site.

La Cornue uncrated

The well padded Chateau range is uncrated at the doorway to the new kitchen of the English-style castle.

The range is moved into the kitchen.

The range is moved into the carefully prepared kitchen space.

La Cornue range set in place

...and set into place, with the top ready to be added.

Cabinet installation

Next the fine furniture-grade custom cabinets are installed.

Additional cabinets intalled

With an experienced installation crew, St. Charles of New York makes sure that all doors and drawers are carefully aligned when the installation is complete.

Cabinet install

Countertops fabricated by St. Charles of New York's thoroughly vetted sources will be installed once the cabinets are in place.

Finishing up the installation

Now the kitchen is really coming together, but there is still a lot of finessing and many more hours of work to be done.

Next up: We unveil the room.

Karen Williams Project Diary: An English Castle in Westchester

All the elements for the new kitchen area have been in the works for a while now, from the highly custom cabinetry to the one-of-a-kind La Cornue range. Decisions have been made about decorative hardware, counter top materials, plumbing fixtures, lighting and more.

Meanwhile on site, builders have been diligently working on the renovation of the newly extended kitchen area, involving both interior and exterior construction, ensuring the space will be ready when it’s time for the installation.

Karen and her staff have made numerous site visits to be sure all the details are correct. Even a seemingly small error in Sheetrocking, electrical, plumbing or other construction can wreak havoc on an installation.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at what’s been happening.

English castle kitchen extension exterior

The English style castle is getting a new extension for the kitchen area.

Exterior renovation English castle

Exterior work continues on the extension with new roof and windows.

interior under construction English castle

Meanwhile the interior of the kitchen area addition is under construction as well.

stone work on inside of English castle

The new kitchen incorporates beautiful stone work in keeping with the exterior of the English-style castle.

interior window detail

Unlike "reality" TV shows, many weeks of work are required to perfect the new kitchen interior.

Attention to detail

Attention to detail upfront is paramount to ensure the new kitchen comes together as planned.

Ceiling in English castle kitchen

A kitchen is much more than appliances and cabinetry. Designer Karen Williams and her team give just as much consideration to the ceiling, floors, other surfaces and lighting so the room is totally harmonious.

window detail

It may not look beautiful at the moment, but this window arch will be a stunning focal point in the new kitchen.

Next up: The products arrive, the highly trained installers work their magic, and the kitchen area comes to life!

For the birds: Karen Williams designs an aviary

More than a kitchen designer, Karen Williams also specializes in  interior space planning. And not just for people.

Her latest clients are a flock of exotic birds including a striking pink cockatoo for whom she is designing an aviary. She’ll feather their nest with walnut cabinetry housing their seed and other necessities. They must have tweeted her plans already, because she just received another request for an aviary project.

Karen's aviary project

Karen Williams plans to feather the nest of this pink cockatoo with custom walnut cabinetry. That's worth tweeting about!

Karen Williams Project Diary: an English Castle in Westchester

Behind the scenes in an atelier in France, the renovation of a kitchen in an English-style castle in Westchester is beginning to come to life. Karen Williams has selected pewter bar area countertops for their old-world charm and beautiful patina.

After careful checking and double checking of drawings and specifications, the hands-on work has begun. First, the wood base is meticulously fabricated.

wood base for pewter countertop

In a French atelier, work on a pewter countertop begins with the meticulous building of the wood base.

Then the pewter is laid over the base.

pewter countertop

Pewter is laid over the wood base for the countertop.

Then the metal artisans begin the hand work of applying the pewter, using age-old techniques.

pewter countertop atelier

Using age-old techniques, the pewter countertop is fabricated in a French workshop.

Hand crafting a pewter countertop

Handcrafted pewter countertop will add old world grace to a renovated kitchen and bar in Westchester.

Karen Williams regularly seeks out one-of-a-kind resources in the U.S. and abroad for her discriminating clients.  Like this handcrafted pewter countertop, her special sources always bring a unique touch to her projects.

Next up: the countertop and a French range arrive at the Westchester location.

At the Architectural Digest show: Karen Williams

The design world changes rapidly and new innovations are always coming on the market. So I never miss a chance to attend a show, whether in my own back yard or in Europe.

At the Architectural Digest Home Design show here in New York , I listened to a stimulating panel discussion on designing for an aging population, led by my good friend and always energetic colleague Florence Perchuk. It got me to thinking about my own clients and how important it is for me to consider universal design as I create kitchens and baths for them. Timeless elements such as  good lighting, avoiding glare and slippery surfaces make sense now and will let them enjoy a retirement home long into the future.

Speaking of timeless, I loved what  the chic and articulate new editor of Architectural Digest, Margaret Russell had to say about embracing change while respecting the heritage of an icon. Since I’m working on several landmark homes now, her message really resonated with me.

My favorite French hardware company always has some amazing pieces.

Then there was the wonderful treasure hunt through the aisles looking for new finds for my projects. My favorite French hardware resource had some fabulous jewels. Plus I discovered an innovative new way to treat switch plates and outlets so they virtually disappear. A little thing, but it can make a huge difference in the look of a kitchen. That’s what I love…finding the unexpected.

Cooking at the Four Seasons: Karen Williams

I’ve always loved the Four Seasons restaurant. The food of course is superb with American seasonal specialities created from locally grown ingredients. And as a designer, I’m in awe of the serene and splendid architecture of Philip Johnson and Mies van der Rohe.

Karen Williams cooking at the Four Seasons

I'm loving cooking at the Four Seasons, one of my favorite restaurants, which now has new Saturday classes.

Being an enthusiastic cook, I jumped at the chance to attend one of the restaurant’s new cooking classes with chefs de cuisine Pecko Zantilaveevan and Larry Finn. How great to spend a Saturday morning in their renowned kitchen, preparing ceviche, crisp farmhouse duck and chocolate souffle.

Karen Williams cooking at the Four Seasons restaurant

At the Four Seasons class, I learned how fine restaurants prepare main courses ahead of time and finish them off right before serving...very helpful for entertaining at home.

Because I entertain a lot, I appreciated learning the techniques of how fine restaurants prepare dishes ahead up to a certain point ahead, then complete them at serving time. For example, you can cook duck, which takes about two hours in total, 80% of the way and then finish it as your guests arrive. Certain sauces can be done a day or two ahead, like the plum glaze.  So you don’t have to be a slave to the kitchen when you entertain, yet you can still offer a fine dining experience. Bon Appetit.