When Karen Swanson of New England Design Works was tasked with this 1867 home in Belmont, Massachusetts, her client had a clear vision: “She is British, and from the beginning of the design process wanted to bring a European vibe to the kitchen,” the designer says.
Before the Union Jack could be flown, Swanson studied up on British kitchen design and worked with architect Elizabeth Cole and Nick Portnoy Builders to modernize the space, giving particular focus to resolving a “circuitous” traffic path on the ground floor by opening up walls, adding French doors to the outside, and moving the adjacent basement stairs. Then, Swanson sought out British vendors for furnishings like hardware and pendant lights—and opted for a crisp palette from the U.K.-based color masters at Farrow & Ball. Perhaps the greatest impact comes from the traditional molding and trim throughout the space.
“The door profile is more ornate, dressier than what most clients are going after,” says Swanson of the deep blue-green cabinets. “It has a richness to it for that reason.” She limited the amount of upper cabinets—“So many people want to blanket the wall in cabinets, but that can make the kitchen feel heavy and claustrophobic”—opting instead for slim glass-fronted columns lined in matte oak to highlight the dishware. Now, a quick cup of Earl Grey is always in reach. Ahead, discover the stylish details and jot down notes fro the clever design solutions throughout.
Who Lives Here? A British ex-pat mother, American father (who does most of the cooking), and their nine-year-old daughter.
Don’t Crowd Walls With Cabinetry
Clear walls leave space for art, a luxury in an otherwise utilitarian space. Swanson chose to only use minimal uppers in one corner so she could add artwork and maintain and open and airy feel to the room.
Consider Your Cooking Habits
While the island has its own sink and a stately brass faucet, the husband requested another large, practical sink for cooking. The farmhouse style satisfies both formal and functional needs and looks out onto the garden.
Dress Things Up With Hardware
Swanson installed dressier pulls on bottom to exaggerate height, with more delicate knobs on top. The lesson? You don’t only have to stick to one style of hardware—see it as an opportunity to have fun and get creative instead of seeing it as an after thought of finishing touch.
French doors were installed to brighten the room and connect it to the outdoor area. Pendants: Hector Finch Lighting. Stools: Serena & Lily. Backsplash tile: Duquesa by Walker Zanger. Hardware: Armac Martin. Sink and faucet: Kohler. Range: BlueStar. Paint: Pointing (white) and Inchyra Blue by Farrow & Ball. Art: Marshall Henrichs, through Charlestown Gallery. Art: Ed Rose, Through Charlestown Gallery.
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