Savoring the seaside
Cape Cod Home / Autumn 2017 / Home, Garden & Design, People & Businesses
Writer: Chris White / Photographer: Dan Cutrona
An Osterville kitchen remodel of refined elegance
Online only: See more photos of this kitchen
In the culinary arts, the most exquisite dishes rely upon the perfect combination of flavors, and of the finest ingredients, to create the most memorable sensations of taste and delight. Often, the most simple combinations of ingredients produce the most delicious creations. Take strawberries, for example, the basis for many classic summer desserts. Consider the effects of serving local, organic, ripe strawberries paired with homemade whipped cream from grassfed cows, sweetened with pure Vermont maple syrup. These three ingredients can create a taste experience that guests may remember for years. Now contrast this by offering diners an elaborate strawberry trifle, one chosen from the dessert section of a trendy supermarket. While the latter may look fancier or even more decadent, it likely contains dozens of unpronounceable chemicals, high fructose corn syrup, and flavorless berries; it’s virtually guaranteed to be forgotten. Thus, taste begins with key ingredients rather than with outward appearances. In terms of home design, in no room is this axiom more fitting than in the kitchen.
When Main Street Kitchens remodeled the kitchen in this 1930s home in Osterville, the homeowners, designers and builders partnered to use the finest ingredients in a project that would win a 2016 gold BRICC award for “Excellence in Remodeling, Kitchen.” Not only have they created a winner, they revolutionized the home of an owner with a passion for both cooking and entertaining. The new kitchen preserves the original style of the house, but it has opened the space to maximize its usefulness, its comfort, and its seaside location. Like the trifle of the above example, the original kitchen area was too busy, too chockablock full of different elements. When the family moved in, back in 1992, it was actually four separate rooms. “It was impossible for two people to work in it,” the homeowner recalls. Now, the space is expansive and inviting, with a massive black-honed granite countertop at its heart, and the overall craftsmanship is stunning.
Andrea Waite, designer at Main Street Kitchens, says, “We tried to keep everything in the style of the rest of the home, really make it look like it fit in, and still get everything the homeowners wanted.” Selecting Grabill Custom Cabinetry assisted in achieving this, and Bayside Building installed a coffered ceiling that affords even more light and space. Pendant lamps from Shades of Light serve to both illuminate the counter when it is used as a cookspace and to provide atmosphere when guests use the stone surface for dining. Tile backsplashes in a basketweave pattern provide a nod to the home’s “Italian villa style,” as the homeowner describes it, and hardwood floors —replacing the tile of yesteryear—have changed the overall tone of the room dramatically. The owner says, “The wood floors totally warmed up the room, and the acoustics are so much better; the tile echoed, which I didn’t care for.”
The design of the original kitchen seemed to purposefully hide its working spaces. A wall with a high counter space, too narrow to use for sitting or eating, seemed to suggest that stoves and sinks are better left unseen. The kitchen was u-shaped and blocked off from its dining space, which appeared more like a breakfast nook than the full family area that it is today. It would have felt unnatural to cook and carry on a conversation at the same time. Now, however, everything is on display, but in a way that is simple and pure, like the organic strawberries of the earlier analogy.
Paul Puchol, manager of Main Street Kitchens, notes that, “The way the original kitchen functioned, it didn’t really allow you to see the view.” The open-concept, L-shaped layout allows one to work while watching boats sail through the channel just across the lawn. It also makes visible every interior feature, as Main Street Kitchens expanded the refrigerator wall to include open shelving and additional cabinetry. The upper cabinets, with their cathedral glass, create a hallowed quality, underscoring the importance of this room. “They make the most impact on the tall cabinetry flanking the refrigerator and wall ovens,” Waite says. The stove itself has become a key feature, one that connects directly with the new ceiling design. Waite explains that, “The extra coffers add intention. They are successful because of the alignment with the focal point of the room: the rangetop hood.”
One of the challenges that the designers and the homeowners would have to overcome was to revamp and modernize the butler’s pantry, a narrow room to the right of the fridge, flanked on both sides by glass cabinets and dead-ending with a sink and windows overlooking Osterville’s West Bay and Grand Island. Stephen Botello, owner of Botello Home Center and Main Street Kitchens, states, “The pantry is original to the house. We updated the mechanisms of the drawers to make them functional since they were so old, but other than that it is original and stunning.” While technically this space remains a separate room, the remodel improved its function.
“What’s really wonderful is that after opening the kitchen up, the butler’s pantry is much more accessible,” the homeowner says. “I’ll store items in there and no longer have to go through a door.” For a chef who enjoys cooking for crowds, the ability to move freely from kitchen to pantry is critical.
For about five years prior to the remodel, the homeowners had dreamed of ways to improve their kitchen. The Mediterranean style and architecture of the home would limit their options in some ways, however. “We had to be careful not to make the kitchen too beachy,” says the homeowner. Paul Puchol, Main Street Kitchens and their team were ready to listen, and ready to help turn visions into reality.
“Everything I wanted, Paul understood and created,” the homeowner says. The results have been revolutionary for the homeowners, their extended family and their guests. For over 20 years, they have used their home for entertainment, for annual family reunions of roughly 40 people, for large meetings, and for fundraising events. Prior to the renovation, the old kitchen sufficed, but it was never optimal. The homeowner explains, “It’s been kind of like when I was young and everyone was getting a dishwasher, but I didn’t think I needed one. And then we got one; you never realize what you’ve been missing until you have it.”
The homeowner’s analogy understates the amazing transformation of this room on the water, but it also cuts to one of the kitchen’s true purposes, that of a utilitarian workspace. The 10-foot granite-topped island is perhaps the finest embodiment of the room’s understated elegance. There’s nothing pretentious about it, yet it’s beautiful. The homeowner found the large piece of stone before the project even began, and she bought it on the spot, knowing that it would become the new room’s centerpiece. “It’s very difficult to get one this big with no seams,” she says. The island is the perfect height for prep cooking, and it can accommodate a number of cooks working simultaneously. One could roll out bread or a pie crust while another builds a salad and another stuffs a turkey. This has added entire new dimensions to holiday gatherings and to the four-day-long family reunions that the homeowners host every Labor Day, as the process of cooking has become social and open rather than isolated and closed off.
“No matter what we do to the rest of the house, everybody always stays in the kitchen,” the homeowner says. “Paul and Main Street Kitchens were wonderful to work with. We’re totally happy with the renovation, and now I have more storage than I could ever ask for. I do manage to use it all, though.”