Bold choices reap huge rewards for a before-and-after kitchen remodel designed for a well-traveled home chef and his wife.Photography by Jay Groccia
For a couple who loves spending summers on the Cape, entertaining friends and family from all over the world, a Harwich home within walking distance of the beach and town center was the perfect find. What wasn’t so optimal was the kitchen. It was small and dark with not much room for the homeowner’s husband to practice his considerable chef skills. “My husband loves to cook. It’s therapy for him,” says the wife, who planned much of the remodel with her husband from their home abroad in England. Having worked with Encore Design Remodel in the past, the couple hired kitchen designer Susan Gerlach to spearhead the project.
“The goal of the remodel was to create a kitchen fit for a cook who likes to entertain and still have it blend in with the rest of the home,” which has a subtle coastal feel, says Gerlach. To accomplish this, first the kitchen had to be expanded. A rarely used sunroom adjacent to the old kitchen was replaced with a much smaller mudroom/ entryway, freeing up square footage. With no bedroom directly over the kitchen, Encore Construction was also able to heighten the ceiling without changing the roofline. Now the new kitchen, which was just 10 feet by 11.3 feet originally, has a cathedral ceiling and an extra 7.3 feet in width, measuring a much more spacious 10 feet by 19.5 feet as part of an open floor plan that connects better with the rest of the home.
With the now much larger kitchen, Gerlach and the homeowners could concentrate on the layout. For a cook who likes to entertain, Gerlach designed separate work and prep stations. A large stainless-steel refrigerator was placed in one corner of the kitchen away from the freezer, with the wall oven and a convection microwave installed in the opposite corner. “We wanted [the husband] to get what he needed from the fridge,” says Gerlach,“and the freezer wasn’t accessed all that often.” In the center of the kitchen is a large, 56-inch-by-95-inch Plato Woodwork island that seats four. For easy prep, the island has a cooktop situated parallel to the Wolfe fireclay farmer’s sink overlooking the front yard. “I love the island,” says the homeowner. It’s a great place to congregate.” Guests often do just that while the chef is hard at work.
Not surprisingly, the kitchen’s color and quartzite countertops are two of the first things people comment on, says the homeowner. To pair with a stunning piece of Princess White quartzite with vibrant blue-green streaking, white cabinetry, the homeowners thought, made the most sense. Gerlach, however, suggested a custom blue-green color blend instead, pulling colors from the quartzite. “A big part of my job is to push people out of their box,” says the designer. “The husband was open to the color, but the wife needed convincing.” The wife remembers, “I was really scared about doing that much color.” But, she adds, “I think because of the openness, it works.” The custom color evokes the sea, and is also a spot-on hue for a more contemporary, cool-toned kitchen with stainless-steel appliances.
“I loved working with Susan [Gerlach],” says the homeowner. “She is a great listener yet interjected new ideas that helped the overall project.” And, of course, she got the color of the kitchen just right. “It is exactly right,” says the homeowner. “All our boxes were ticked.”