Hardworking Kitchens

August 29, 2023

Text by Alyssa Bird

History in the Making

As with many houses of its era, this 1905 Tudor Revival residence in a Brookline, Massachusetts, historic district was originally outfitted with a simple kitchen meant for staff use. The current owner tapped interior designer Ana Bonilla and kitchen designer Donna Venegas to “bring it up to par with the well-preserved front of the house, which features lovely plaster details, carvings, and marble features,” explains Bonilla. The duo gutted the sterile white space and reduced the points of entry from six to four, thereby increasing available wall space and maximizing storage. And they added plenty of modern-day creature comforts, from heated flooring and two sinks to a coffee bar with refrigerated drawers. In addition to a new coffered ceiling adorned with gold-painted plaster moldings that match original moldings elsewhere in the home, brass accents and a mix of mahogany, burlwood, and painted charcoal cabinetry deliver on the client’s request for deep, dark tones. “While selecting the materials palette,” notes Venegas, “we were inspired by the idea of a handsome charcoal suit.”

Project Team 
Interior design: AnaVera Design
Kitchen design: AnaVera Design, Venegas and Company
Builder: Pat Torcasio Contractors
Photography: Sean Litchfield


The Entertainer

Keeping a clean kitchen is a feat for a busy young family, but it’s much easier in this Weston, Massachusetts, new build thanks to a back kitchen that works in tandem with the main space. Architect Christopher Hall and interior designer Meg McSherry collaborated on the rooms, focusing on a floor plan with both everyday living and frequent entertaining in mind. Two islands anchor the main kitchen: a marble-topped white one with a sink and dishwasher is for prep work and dining, and the oak-and-soapstone one is outfitted with an ice machine, beverage refrigerators, and a locked cabinet for alcohol. Meanwhile, a custom stained-oak hutch “feels like a vintage piece,” says McSherry. The idea behind the mix of materials, according to Hall, comes from historic kitchens comprising “pieces of furniture, each serving a specific function. We didn’t want the space to feel homogenous, so this collection of elements lends a feeling of warmth and comfort that’s conducive to informal entertaining.” When there’s a crowd, the back kitchen allows for party prep and cleanup, but it’s also primed for daily use, thanks to a coffee station as well as dishware, snacks, and drinks that are accessible to the kids.

Project Team
Architecture: Christopher Hall Architects
Interior design: Meg McSherry Interiors
Builder: Wellen Construction
Cabinetry: Fine Finish Inc.
Photography: Joyelle West


Black Beauty 

The owners of this Newton, Massachusetts, residence had a distinct vision for their kitchen that included high-gloss black cabinetry and a geometric tile floor by Kelly Wearstler for Ann Sacks. “The wife and I both admire Kelly’s work, so we built the kitchen around this floor,” explains interior designer Anne Rubin. The long, narrow space features an eleven-and-a-half-foot island perfect for entertaining and brass accents such as metal mesh cabinet fronts, hardware, and a range hood that was handcrafted in Maine. “The clients asked for drama,” says Rubin. “The brass jumps off the black and adds a layer of sparkle.” Rubin worked with kitchen designer Melinda Guglietta at Bespoke of Winchester to maximize the kitchen’s function, incorporating refrigerated drawers near the sink, a coffee station, a drinks cabinet, and pullouts for spices, oils, and cooking trays near the range. “The layout was a little tricky,” says Guglietta, “so our goal was to maintain the cooking triangle and limit the number of steps one needs to take.”

Project Team 
Interior design: Annika Designs
Kitchen design: Bespoke of Winchester
Builder: The Sintra Group
Photography: Jessica Delaney


Pantry Proud 

The wooden pantries common in early-twentieth-century New England inspired this New Hampshire butler’s pantry. “The clients actually saw my 1912 house with an original Vermont icebox in the kitchen and decided that’s what they wanted,” says architect Aimee Bentley. She tapped Modern Heritage, who worked on her own kitchen, to construct the millwork and cabinetry for this home. The pantry—which supports both the main kitchen and the outdoor kitchen—includes an icebox-style refrigerator, a dishwasher, a sink, a coffee maker, and tons of storage. White-oak cabinetry with leaded-glass panels, beadboard, Carrara marble countertops, a tin ceiling, and stenciled-wood floors drive home the Old World feel. “The challenge,” says Modern Heritage principal Ian Mentasti, “was making the refrigerator look like an icebox you would find in a Vermont country store, complete with strap hinges. We also added some turned details to the cabinets to make the space feel older.”

Project Team 
Architecture: ASB Architecture
Builder: Beckwith Builders
Cabinetry: Modern Heritage
Photography: Jared Kuzia
Stylist: Sarah Sumner

Find A Resource

Search from hundreds of home services, products, destinations, and real estate opportunities.

View All Resources