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Kathryn Finegan Clark: By the Way -- The heart of the home

Kitchens are special. We all know the kitchen is the heart of the home. While it’s often a place of nourishment for both body and soul, it’s also the most expensive room in the house.
So, when Geoffrey and Jody Rickert moved into their 1920s house in Bedminster, they decided the kitchen needed a bit of surgery.
Geoff’s father, Wayne Rickert, who owns Architectural Antiques, dug out some old wooden cabinets and he and Geoff went to work to make a special place for Jody whom Wayne says is “the absolute best cook I know.”
The Bedminster father and son tackled the job, putting a handsome new face on an old room.
Of course, it helped that the dad, Wayne, is a carpenter who for many years remodeled old homes and fell in love with the bits and pieces of the past homeowners discarded as they updated their properties.
Wayne couldn’t bear to see intriguing hardware and handsome woodwork tossed away so he started to collect the unwanted pieces, eventually opening Architectural Antiques in an ancient red barn that is now a landmark in the Village of Bedminster.
In the past, Wayne had remodeled dozens of kitchens but this one was special – for family. He helped Geoff and Jody find what they needed at Architectural Antiques. The store, more like a museum gone wild, is stuffed with the flotsam and jetsam of the past – locks and keys and doorknobs, all kinds of hardware, windows, faucets, wrought iron fences and gates, radiators, lightning rods, cast iron pots, sinks, trunks, license plates, candlesticks and kitchen cabinets. Many of these objects feature individual craftsmanship and charm not usually seen in today’s mass production market.
The old wooden cabinets they found made their way to the little house on Old Easton Road and now Geoff and Jody have a handsome “new” kitchen in which everything with the exception of modern appliances is made of something old. The look is definitely eclectic but it’s also charming. The different elements fit together harmoniously and it’s immediately evident a great deal of thought went into the planning.
“When you do something like this, you have to have a theme,” said Wayne. “You have to consider planes and textures and see how each leads into the other.”
Items from different eras can be put together, too, if the mingling of styles is done with an eye to aesthetics.
In this 12-foot-long galley-style kitchen, an ancient fireback is a dramatic contrast to an old porcelain sink. An ornate and darkly Victorian stove hood draws immediate attention but it blends easily with and complements the Arts and Crafts cabinets.
Handsome hand-carved designs decorate cabinet doors. Several coats of paint provide an antique look for the cabinets – and all the cabinets are painted the same warm shade of gray.
Mercer tiles line the little breakfast bar – and there are some surprises, such as an upside-down newel post painted to match the cabinets and used to support the counter.
Jeff is a graduate of Pennridge High School and Rider University, where he served as a mentor to Chinese students. “After graduation,” he said, “I went to China and spent six years there teaching English as a second language. Then I was offered a job in Malaysia, where Jody and I met.” Geoff, who said he speaks Mandarin Chinese, now is teaching at The American Language Center in Huntingdon Valley, and is planning to open an online language school.
Jody is a city girl, who lived in Kuala Lumpur with her family, was educated in New Zealand and Australia. She said she loves her kitchen and likes the antique look. “But everything is so different here. It has required some adjustment. Everything is so modern in Kuala Lumpur. I also miss the convenience of the city. All the stores are right there. Everything you need is nearby.”
She keeps in touch with her family via the Internet. “My parents came to visit last year and they loved it here,” she said. Jody works part-time for Go15, an international organization involved with power supply grids.
A Bucks County guy, a Malaysian girl and a new-old kitchen. It all fits together nicely.