A new floor plan and updated materials bring an aging kitchen into the 21st century.By Lenore Cullen Barnes | Photography by Anna Olivella
When the time was right for Boston-based Jason and Kristin Pinto to look for a second home, their visions weren’t exactly in synch. Having vacationed all her life on the Cape, Kristin was picturing a “Cape Cod cottage” while Jason had something a bit more substantial in mind. The stars—and their expectations—aligned, however, when they found a four-bedroom, one-story home in Falmouth filled with the character they sought, great light, and enough space to accommodate friends and family. “We loved the openness of the living room and kitchen, but we knew we wanted to change the flow,” Kristin explains. “We just weren’t sure how to do it.”
Updating the outdated
Fortunately, Kristin counted among her close friends Sarah Scales of Sarah Scales Design Studio. The Pintos had shared photos of the house before purchasing it and Scales was already on board with remodeling plans. While the basic structure felt right, the house had been built in the 1970s and bore some of the limitations, outdated materials and flat-out mistakes made throughout the decades.
“The house had been updated in a piecemeal fashion over the years,” Scales notes. “It was a hodgepodge of details with too many random updates, appliances in strange places and poor-quality materials. The kitchen was the main focus; both Jason and Kristin love to cook and entertain. We wanted to update and optimize the floor plan.”
Making the most of the floor plan was right in Scales’ wheelhouse, as she specializes in architectural design. She presented several alternative floor plans to the Pintos and they came to an agreement regarding the best option. First to go was a wood stove situated in an awkward spot between two load-bearing posts, separating the existing kitchen and living room. They also decided to resize a large bathroom that backed up to the kitchen, allowing them to borrow space for the kitchen.
“Once we decided to remodel the bathroom, that helped a lot,” says Kristin. “I didn’t want to take away from the integrity of the house, from what made it unique. We wanted to represent that, but turn it into something that represents us too. I like clean, simple design. The house had natural light and beautiful wood to begin with. The former owner was an artist and had south-facing transom windows installed above the island, so the space gets sunlight throughout the day.”
To capitalize on the abundant light and enhance the clean, crisp look of the kitchen, Scales and the Pintos agreed to have no upper cabinets. The sink and range were moved to more strategic and functional places, yielding the generous counter space the Pintos desired. Finding enough storage to compensate for the lack of upper cabinets required clever space planning. They decided to incorporate two full-length pantries flanking the refrigerator. In order to maintain a clean line with the refrigerator, they made one pantry shallow, because it backs up to the renovated bathroom, and the other deep. “We ended up with some great cabinet space,” Kristin says. “Plus we added some built-ins by the bathroom on the other side of that wall.”
Because she and Jason love to cook and entertain, Kristin knew they needed a durable material on the perimeter countertops. With guests joining in on the cooking and lots of activity, she didn’t want to worry about stains. The solution was a high-functioning, easy-to-maintain gray quartz. Paired with slab-front cabinets painted white, the effect is sleek and contemporary.
The Pintos loved the pine wood floors throughout but were not as fond of how they had yellowed over time. Scales and Kristin tested various stains and eventually came up with their own custom stain, achieving a more natural tone that Kristin says gives the house a “light, beachy feel.”
In order to differentiate the island from the “working” kitchen, Scales suggested using quartzite, a natural stone with a marble look, on the counter. “It took some convincing,” Kristin acknowledges. “I was concerned about red wine spills, but drawn toward the lighter color. In the end, I was blown away with how the island came out. I love being there—I always stand behind the island. We wanted the interior to reference the wood and natural stone outside. We nailed it with the island.”
Another favorite element of the Pintos is the cement board that wraps the walls in the u-shaped kitchen space, meeting the original posts and beams. “You can’t have anything flammable above the range, so we used cement board, which is usually found on exteriors, painted white,” says Scales. “It’s meant to look like wood shiplap and is totally functional.”
Kristin and Jason enjoy every moment they spend in their newly remodeled home, now that they’ve achieved what they set out to do—preserve the character and light it initially offered, while improving flow, functionality and aesthetics.
And a bonus for Scales is that she also gets to enjoy the fruits of her labor. “They are my good friends and I love watching them use and enjoy the home. That’s special for me.