Every member of this household, which includes two teenage sons, cooks—with the exception of April the cat, who prefers to supervise while curled up in a small sink by the window. Despite all the activity, the new kitchen plan gracefully keeps family members from getting in each other’s way.
After living in their 111-year-old Victorian house near Boston for 14 years, with only minor changes to the kitchen, the family decided the time had come to renovate. Architect Roger N. Goldstein, FAIA, worked closely with his artist wife Cindy in the redesign. “Our goal was to create a kitchen that was modern yet appropriate to our traditional home,” she relates. “We accomplished this by using pared-down detailing and selecting red as the dominant color, which allowed us to stay in a range similar to the original dark –stained fir trim used throughout the house.”
“Our priorities are eating, drinking, and entertaining,” adds Roger, “so it was important that the room be inviting and people-centered.”
With the kitchen’s many doors, an island in the middle of the 17-by-16-feet space would have created a traffic-flow problem. Instead, the center of the room remains open, accommodating a large table.
While the dimensions stayed the same, the room was gutted right down to the framing and sub-floor. It was crucial to capture as much southern sun as possible, but a neighbor’s garage just eight feet away presented a problem. The solution, made possible by the kitchen’s nine-foot six-inch ceiling, was a row of fixed clerestory windows that looks out over the garage. A pair of casement windows set into the backsplash offers a garden view.
Custom-made ash cabinets by Geller Associates in Acton, Massachusetts, have a red aniline stain that reveals the wood’s grain. In counterpoint, a band of drawers just beneath the counter wears a clear finish. The drawers line up with the rangetop’s apron, reiterating the shape of the band of clerestory windows.
“The upper cabinets were a challenge,” says Goldstein. Most are 15 inches deep instead of the traditional 12. The face of the cabinet over the hood is recessed to align with it. Open shelving over the sink pulls back so the 6-foot-4-inch-tall architect/owner won’t hit his head. Two cabinets rise to accommodate the casement windows. The stepped heights and depths create visual interest, as does the play of solid panels, glass doors, and open shelving.
Tiles of variegated gray slate on the backsplash butt compatibly to the countertops of honed Absolute Black granite. An area for Roger’s bread baking is topped instead with butcher block. Red-oak strip floors, newly milled from century-old recycled barn timbers, refer to the original floors in the rest of the house.
“We wanted two ovens,” says Cindy, “so we didn’t need a range. We chose a Wolf six-burner professional-style 36-inch-wide rangetop for ultimate heat control. What sold us were the red knobs and their placement.” When it came to selecting a refrigerator, the couple looked for one in stainless steel with a lower freezer. “The Sub-Zero model 650 was among the few we found. We knew it was a quality product; we also like the 24-inch depth and its looks.”
The room is full of light that dances across the room as the day wears on, an effect enhanced by sunny yellow walls. Natural light is supplemented by down lights in the ceiling, wall washers aimed at wall-hung cabinets, and halogen lighting installed beneath them. In the baking area, three chrome-and-red-glass low-voltage pendants are suspended from the ceiling.
Left in its original condition, a butler’s pantry leads to the dining room, which now gets less frequent use, as family and friends, many of who join in the cooking, are more comfortable eating in the inviting new kitchen.