A designer’s updated kitchen harmonizes ocean hues and marsh views.By Jennifer Sperry | Photos by Kjeld Mahoney
Design: Violandi + Warner Interiors, Good Life New England
In 1991, Caroline and Bob Warner bought their Marshfield home after falling in love with its setting. “We’ve lived here for 27 years,” says Caroline Warner. “It’s just an awesome spot.” Perched on North River, the 1970s-era home faces a hypnotizing swath of lime green salt marshes topped by a slice of Scituate in the distance. Inside, its open-concept floor plan interacts with the vibrant outdoor setting via uninterrupted sight lines, plenty of windows and a large wraparound deck.
As one-half of the Scituate-based interior design firm Violandi + Warner Interiors, Warner is adept at curating living spaces throughout New England, particularly along the South Shore and on Cape Cod. She and business partner Robin Violandi excel at juxtaposition: classic yet contemporary, stylish yet livable, fresh yet timeless. Their guiding hand results in Houzz-favorite interiors that embody polish and comfort at the same time.
Friendly and upbeat, the two women met six years ago, and their complementary personalities and design savvy just clicked—they launched Violandi + Warner four years ago. Warner also owns the popular gift shop and home furnishings showroom Welch Company, in Scituate, which the pair use as their design home base.
Remodeling her own kitchen was always on Warner’s radar: “It was a little like the cobbler’s kids with no shoes,” she jokes. But during a birthday dinner with her husband in July 2016, he encouraged her to take the leap. The kitchen’s existing features, dating back to a 1988 update, included cherry cabinets, Formica and smaller-scale appliances. There was an island (barely helpful at 3 feet by 4 feet) and a cramped triangle linking sink, stove and fridge.
The remodel strategy involved making the kitchen bigger and the adjoining dining room smaller. Since the rooms are open to each other, this layout shift did not involve significant structural changes; however, on one wall, Warner changed the size of two window casements. She reduced a dining room window and installed a much larger bump-out window over the kitchen sink. “Now there’s about a foot of space behind the faucet; it makes a big difference and feels more expansive,” she explains.
Working with Glenn Meader of Good Life New England, a Scituate-based design/build firm, on the cabinets, Warner opted for Shaker style in white. The new cabinet layout checked off a variety of wish-list features, including open shelving for the display of collectibles and a wallpaper-lined appliance garage to wrangle the coffee maker and toaster.
“We lost storage by taking out a sideboard in the dining area where the settee is now, so we designed the island to have storage on three sides. The short side across from the stove is where I organize all my oils and spices,” Warner says. Also, the couple finally gained a pantry—a floor-to-ceiling run of cabinets—by bumping a wall out 15 inches.
When it came time to establish the room’s overall style, Warner collaborated closely with her friend. “I think there’s more pressure when you’re a designer working on your own home,” observes Violandi. “Choosing things is a little bit harder; there’s always something new to consider. I was mostly there for moral support.”
Finding the right products and materials
The design duo started with a determined hunt for countertops, ultimately deciding on “Mont Blanc” quartzite. “Its colors are very ‘under the sea’—it’s neutral but has blues, greens and grays,” describes Warner. Continuing their green-blue-gray scheme, the pair decided on shimmery 2-by-6-inch subway tiles, handmade in California, which vacillate among those seaside colors depending on the light, as well as Benjamin Moore’s “Iced Marble” for the island’s cabinets.
All of the appliances were updated, resulting in a 42-inch Sub-Zero fridge and a 30-inch Bertazzoni oven. The microwave is tucked neatly into the kitchen island. After spending hours looking for hoods, Warner ultimately chose a matching Bertazzoni version, although she didn’t like its available colors. Her crafty solution: having it sprayed with “Iced Marble” at an auto body shop.
The kitchen’s pop of brushed brass is an homage to the marsh’s color in the fall. The metal appears with slightly different finishes in the sink faucet, the cabinet hardware, and in two English-style latticed cabinet screens flanking the sink. Sourcing her light fixtures through Welch Company, Warner chose the sink’s Ro Sham Beaux pendant for its style but also its label, Sadie, the name of her beloved Lab, now passed. (“Now she’s over my head instead of at my feet,” she says affectionately.)
In order to preserve sight lines, Warner decided against hanging pendants over the island and selected a barely-there Ro Sham Beaux geometric pendant for over the dining table. The island’s stools are a favorite recommendation to their own clients: “We love texture, and the stools bring in a nice woven element, plus burlap, wood, fabric and nail head details. They have a lot going on but are still very neutral,” describes Violandi.
Although the kitchen’s skylight was installed 15 years ago, the feature seems bigger, brighter and more inviting. Now that it’s complete, Warner wouldn’t change a thing.
What’s next for the busy design team? “My kitchen!” Violandi jokingly asserts, and although the friends laugh, the wheels definitely start to turn.