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A Breath of Fresh Air

This Cape Cod kitchen’s redesign combines traditional quality with innovative green features

This Cape Cod kitchen’s redesign combines traditional quality with innovative green features

Photo by Dan Cutrona

“The only thing that’s missing here is that renovation smell!” This is a common exclamation by friends visiting Kitty and Tom Brown’s newly remodeled kitchen in their home in East Falmouth. Says designer Nicole Goldman of ‘g’ Green Design Center in Mashpee, who worked with the Browns from first design idea to final installation, “Yes, there are no toxins, no off gassing, no fumes. At ‘g’ Green Design, we don’t do smells!” The Brown’s kitchen remodel features all the hallmarks of traditional kitchen design—quality materials, continuity with existing parts of the house, a more functional, satisfying space—all with the added green perks of health, sustainability, energy efficiency, and low maintenance.

What’s not to love? The new kitchen is truly a breath of fresh air, but one in keeping with the country New England style of the house. Light pours in through the windows, reflecting off smooth, cream-colored cabinets, highlighting a spacious new dining area and a deluxe-sized central island that seems to beg to be surrounded by friends chattering as they munch on appetizers, or a gaggle of grandchildren clamoring for an afternoon cookie break. Says Goldman, “It’s easy to entertain here. It can either feel intimate or expansive.”
The homeowner was delighted and surprised throughout the process at just how easy it is to remodel in ways that complement one’s own ideas of health and sustainability, in any aesthetic and style. “It’s a mentality that I have—to reuse and use products that will last a long time,” says Kitty Brown. “The variety, the choices that are out there—that surprised me!”

The venture evolved in a somewhat unexpected way. A frequent customer of ‘g’ Green Design in Mashpee Commons, Kitty stopped by the shop one afternoon to pick up some sustainable tableware products for an upcoming party. Small talk with Goldman and showroom manager Paula Smith led Brown to the topic of her dark, cluttered, and outdated kitchen. With Smith and Goldman, Brown realized that she might be able to actually tackle her goal of a complete overhaul. “The kitchen was 27 years old,” she says. “Things were falling apart. We needed to do something.”

Brown wanted a lighter, brighter space—one that made better use of the large footprint of the room, with more storage and better functionality. “It is a very traditional, Cape-style home in a small neighborhood on one of the fingers [of land] in East Falmouth. You don’t want to overbuild or put in anything out of context,” says Goldman. “With a traditional setting, the idea is that green doesn’t have to mean contemporary. It can be any style—it is really about what is in the materials.”

Over a nine-month design and construction process, Brown collaborated with Smith and Goldman to devise a new, bold floor plan that included enlarging and redesigning a center island, rearranging the cooking and food preparation areas, replacing and expanding an existing pantry, and adding both an eat-in dining area and a small home office space. The range, microwave, and refrigerator were replaced and updated with Energy Star-rated Liebherr appliances, known for their beautiful design and excellent engineering. About the refrigerator, Goldman says, “It’s not just about the look, they actually keep food longer so that you have less waste.”

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