Special Focus: New England Kitchen Design 2020

August 28, 2020

Text by Marni Elyse Katz

Four contemporary kitchens redefine space while staying true to place.

Fire Starter
The design for this Beacon Hill kitchen fell into place once the homeowners decided to replace the room’s unremarkable fireplace with a royal blue La Cornue range sporting brass details.

“I didn’t want to change the bones of the house too much,” Emily Rives says about the kitchen in the circa-1840 townhouse she shares with her husband, Clay, and their two children. “The range is an homage to the original fireplace.”

Architect Kyle Sheffield drew inspiration from the now-gone mantel in specifying the rustic, brushed finish for the stained white-oak hood. The glazed earthenware backsplash tiles match the size and shape of the original brick it supplanted. Sheffield says, “We’re celebrating the art of fire in the hearth.”

The team used the same wood for the island, which nods to the 1840s-era butcher-block table that the family had been using as a work surface prior to the renovation. “Emily loved its character, but they needed more durability, plus counter seating,” the architect says. That Emily was immediately smitten with the local Imperial Danby marble that Sheffield suggested for the countertops helped her let go of the antique. “We retained the charm, with a seamless transition of old to new,” Sheffield says.

Architecture: Kyle Sheffield, LDa Architecture & Interiors
Interior design: Dean Sawyer, LDa Architecture & Interiors
Builder: F.H. Perry Builder
Cabinetry: Vermont Custom Cabinetry
Photography: Sean Litchfield

Shift to Sleek

In a contemporary makeover of a condominium located in a historic Jamaica Plain mansion, architects Kristen Giannattasio and Christina Marsh maximized space and improved flow in the kitchen simply by tweaking some doorways. “Redirecting the circulation path uncovered valuable real estate,” Marsh says. They didn’t even relocate utilities.

Moving the powder room door around the corner to the condo’s main corridor made way for a slick swath of blue-gray floor-to-ceiling cabinetry done in etched glass. After closing the large opening in the middle of the
wall across from it, they inserted an additional run of cabinetry. “The owners didn’t want a direct line of sight from the living area,” Marsh says.

A central island with a custom table-like overlay constructed of Douglas fir adds warmth to the kitchen proper, which is otherwise shiny and sleek. A rectilinear row of minimalist white lacquered cabinetry is set against a full-height, marble-patterned porcelain-slab backsplash, the same material used for the countertops. The backsplash is a modern application of a traditional-looking material used to honor the home’s late nineteenth-century roots. “It’s an abstract backdrop to the cabinets and exhaust hood, allowing the composition to read more as an art installation,” Giannattasio says.
Architecture: Kristen Giannattasio, Christina Marsh, Atelier et Alia
Builder: Dudley Builders
Kitchen design: Gregory Hitchcock, Cesar New York
Cabinetry: Cesar New York
Photography: Carly Gillis

Reflecting on Neutrals
Ana Donohue made neutrals sing in the kitchen of a Newton townhouse that she renovated for a well-traveled couple who love to entertain. While the clients wished for a sleek, somewhat urban sensibility, they also insisted that the scheme feel warm. “We made nuanced changes with materials in pretty neutrals,” the designer says.

Clean lines and visual interest were important since the new layout put the kitchen in direct view of the entry and the living area. To marry the two concepts, Donohue used three different finishes on unfussy flat-front cabinetry. The pantry wall is done in reflective lacquer, the tall uppers flanking the sink have crackled mirror fronts, and the base cabinetry, including the island, are faced in bamboo strié veneer. Hammered hardware keeps the smooth surfaces from feeling flat.

The contemporary quartz countertop and backsplash foil the soft cabinet color, while its taupe veining ties them together. To make the island “a moment in itself,” Donohue topped it with a chunkier slab than she used along the perimeter. And then there is the pair of swirling silver-leaf pendants. “The over-scaled pendants help the room not feel so kitchen-ish and make a statement without blocking any space,” Donohue says.

Interior design: Ana Donohue, Ana Donohue Interiors
Builder: Jim Marrazzo, JMM Remodeling
Cabinetry: Metropolitan Cabinets & Countertops
Photography: Michael J. Lee

Mostly Modern Maine
With four kids ages twelve and under, the Hartzes needed a family-friendly kitchen. “We spend seventy-five percent of our day in the kitchen area, so functionality is very important,” Kristen Hartz says. Priorities included comfort, durability, and plenty of seating.

Working with the modern-farmhouse-meets-Maine-coast vibe that she infused throughout the new-construction Scarborough home, designer Nicola Manganello wrapped the room in bright white shiplap. Crisp white quartz tops the island and perimeter base cabinets, and also continues one-third of the way up the wall for easy cleaning. A stainless-steel apron-front sink is practical and fits the farmhouse aesthetic, while industrial-style pendants add a lived-in touch to the top of the room.

Manganello introduced wood tones to keep the space from feeling sterile. Hemlock beams decorate the ceiling, and floating shelves in whitewashed oak contain everyday essentials. Manganello also designed whitewashed oak supports for either end of the island. “I thought a room needed color to be fun, but Nikki showed me that neutral doesn’t have to mean boring,” Hartz says.

Interior design: Nicola Manganello, Nicola’s Home
Architecture: Thomas Weston, David Campanella, McIntyre Capron & Associates
Builder: Jack Pilk, Arlington Restorations
Cabinetry: Hancock Lumber Kitchen Design Showroom
Photography: Erin Little

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