The Design Studio was recently awarded two SILVER WINNERS for our Bridge Street “North River Oasis” and Great Rock Road projects. We’re so proud to be recognized alongside other top design and building firms in the Greater Boston area.
Like reconnecting with an old friend, revisiting a past project can breathe a new, inspired life into a space. Initially designed almost ten years prior, the needs for this space went beyond aesthetic updates. While the original design had good bones, the clients experience living in the space, compounded by mobility issues and considerations for future planning drove the underlying need to revisit the design. Working closely with the clients it became clear that the storage was not meeting their needs and the monolithic kitchen island was disrupting the flow, proving difficult for anyone with mobility issues to navigate. Entertaining, a large part of the client’s lifestyle, was also difficult with no designated place to prep, serve, or display when they hosted. The adjacent bar contained similar challenges with a large bar disrupting the flow into the living area and surrounding seating areas that weren’t conducive to social engagement.
In addition to improving functionality, the new design needed to make the space feel lighter and brighter, all while attempting to reuse as much of the existing materials as possible and working around steel structural columns.
The resulting design completely transformed the space, all while honoring the original footprint of the kitchen and bar. To start, the existing storage was retooled to better suit the clients’ specific needs. Glass inserts were added to cabinets along with mirrored back open shelving, giving the clients a dedicated place to serve guests and display special pieces. The vast kitchen island was broken into two separate islands, giving the clients a working island for prep as well as a large eating island. Reworking the island greatly improved the flow of the space by creating a more efficient pathway for the clients to navigate. Visually this change lifted a lot of the heaviness out of the space. Transitioning from the kitchen to the bar, the threshold was parred down from a stained-glass window to a more contemporary mullion glass surround, helping define the space without separating it. A similar treatment was given to the bar as the kitchen island; previously closed off the living area it was opened to create a natural flow from one space to the next. The seating area around the bar was redone with a built-in bench and table that overlooked the scenic nearby river. This new configuration created a space that the clients would eagerly use, whether it be as a breakfast bar or entertaining after dinner.
Overall, the new color palette and improved lighting helped to drench the new design in light. The sink window was enlarged and a new light fixture over the island mimics the curves of the river that cuts through the property. Existing recessed lights were re-used with new lightbulbs that toned down the warmth of the previous lights. The new design lifted the weight out of the room, giving the clients a light and inviting space that met their functional needs in the most efficient way possible.
“Absolutely, completely different than what is here now”. This was the primary criteria voiced by the homeowner when describing her design goals. The general flow of the kitchen worked for the family, but that was all that they wanted to retain. Their goals focused predominantly on a complete overhaul of the kitchen aesthetic, reworking an existing free standing wall structure for better definition and connection to other areas of the house, open floating shelving, more areas for display, a larger rectangular island for entertaining and family gathering, improved refrigeration, pantry options, a relocated built in desk area, maintain a table for family at meals, and add more architectural interest. The homeowners requested for little disruption to the exterior of the house, which was a challenge to work around. Other challenges included working with the existing free-standing structure and successfully transitioning such a significant design alteration into the existing home. They also needed a home for two large dog crates in the kitchen and to address the multi-use needs of the space.
An exciting aesthetic was developed as the base of the project. The use of warm quartersawn oak as a contrast to custom dark blue cabinetry allowed the design to transition from old to new, providing the homeowner with a bold and different aesthetic all while maintaining the warm welcoming kitchen that she desired.
Improved kitchen flow was created by altering the use of the nook at the existing floating wall. Now, separate refrigeration columns and cabinetry sized exactly to fit within the existing space symmetrically flank new glass display cabinets. Anchoring the remodel is an intricate site-built chevron ship lap detail cladding the same structure on all sides. The chevron detail frames an oversized mirror at the main entry on the opposite side connecting the kitchen to the main entry. This detail repeats on the custom hood and again on the second anchor, an intricate dropped coffer ceiling centered on the island. Layering in elements allowed us to meet the clients’ needs for style & functionality. Included elements are, two galley sinks for cooking and entertaining, suspended open shelving on tension wires clad in custom brass rods woven between 2” thick matching oak shelving, as well as floating oak shelving over the desk area. A fully-outfitted pantry with retracting doors was added and hosts an interior coffee station with a marble interior, storage drawers and a tv cabinet.
Limiting exterior impact, only one exterior doorway was altered. Working within the existing opening a window was installed which allowed for a more subtle and efficient location for the office area. Impactfully, the flooring was refinished in a custom natural/white glaze to lighten and update the full living space. Finally, a new doggy condo was created under an existing stairway and is big enough to house both dogs happily out of the way! In looking at the transformation – I think it is safe to say that the new kitchen is “Absolutely, completely different than what is here now!”