This Chatham kitchen pays homage to its seaside roots
“Sometimes we are lucky enough to know that our lives have been changed, to discard the old, embrace the new, and run headlong down an immutable course. It happened to me … on that summer’s day when my eyes were opened to the sea.” – Jacques Yves Cousteau
Situated on the southeastern tip of Cape Cod, the seaside town of Chatham, like much of the Cape, is known for its gorgeous beaches and stunning vistas. This home renovation is a nod to that nautical splendor, sitting on the seaside awash in enchanting light so that passersby may easily mistake it for a wayward ship, bustling with busy crew members in the form of house guests. And, like on any good ship, the kitchen is at the heart of the design.
“I love the drama of this kitchen,” says interior designer Kathleen Hay of Nantucket. “The entry is a vaulted entry with an arched ceiling out of natural mahogany, so it almost feels like stepping onto a ship.” Although the Chatham home is spacious, the original design of the house was closed off and felt disconnected from the show-stopping water view and dock behind the home. The remodel rectified this by reorienting the living space onto the waterside of the house with nautical accents throughout, and opening up the floor plan by removing almost all of the interior walls. “We wanted to give some architectural nods to the seaside setting,” explains Hay. “In the kitchen, that meant using elements like shiplap, greige-colored cabinetry to stand out against the white color and warm up the room, and glass backsplash.”
“The owners had great vision in finding that diamond in the rough and being able to see the property for what it could be,” says Judy Whalen, design director for Roomscapes who spearheaded the project. One of the main goals in renovating this seaside home in Chatham was to create an open, airy space for entertaining, with the kitchen at the center of it all. “They love to entertain,” says Whalen about the homeowners. “They’re very fun, open people, and that house is filled with family and friends all the time. It really fits their personality.”
The new, reinvigorated floorplan places the kitchen in the middle of all the action. It’s a short trip between the breakfast bar and dining table; on the opposite side of the room, the kitchen, with its ample and functional island, defines the work area so as to not interfere. “We did not want to have people crisscrossing through the kitchen space,” explains Whalen. “We also wanted to have a dining element and an informal breakfast bar oriented toward the water so that the homeowners and their friends could pop in to eat and then go right back out on the boat or out onto the deck. We wanted people to feel like they could enjoy a meal and then head back outside and continue their day.”
The cooking and cleaning areas of the kitchen are set away from the entry points of the house to allow room for eager chefs to experiment without being crowded by incoming guests. Everything about the space is centered on functionality while still maintaining a seamless, attractive design. A new entry point between the kitchen and the mudroom means that the homeowners can easily unload groceries or take inventory before heading back to the car. This transitional room leverages its coastal style found in the oversized, white-painted shiplap bench and cubbies so that it does not feel cluttered or neglected as guests pass through to access the main floor half bath. “It’s very much a self-service area,” explains Whalen. “I wanted to ensure the kitchen was positioned next to the garage and mudroom so when bringing supplies in, they can go straight to the refrigerator and drink drawers without having to run across the kitchen.”
Details like a stainless hood with rivets and banding over the range, a television in the breakfast bar area and drink drawers make this area stand out. Milk glass and polished nickel lighting fixtures along with a driftwood finished oak dining table and porthole-inspired window between the foyer and kitchen bring the design back to that ship-like feel, but this space is more than just a galley. “It captures their personality,” says Hay. “When you walk in, the presentation is stunning and dramatic, but still welcoming. It’s formal, but comfortable.”
“The owners wanted a space that was bright and white,” explains Whalen. “We also used a lot of blues and water tones to hold true to that Cape feel.” Soft palettes selected by Hay also contribute to the airy feel of the space. The simple greige cabinetry, for example, provides a lovely contrast to the shiplap and gives the space a clean, modern feel that is cohesive with other elements such as the polished stainless steel hood.
“One of my favorite elements is the range wall where we wrapped the shiplap so that it becomes the backsplash. It’s this beautiful focal point,” says Whalen. At the corner of each end of the wall, the wrapped shiplap also creates an alcove where Whalen integrated base cabinets and glass shelving in the grooves of the shiplap. “It’s a decorative detail to the space that guests can enjoy as they’re coming from the family room or wet bar toward the kitchen. It’s a spot for the owners to have a personal touch—with family pictures and pretty vases.”
This use of the alcove shelving creates unique focal points that help in the seamless transition between the kitchen and the adjacent bar area. A uniquely crafted chiller by Livingstone Concrete Studio, located between the kitchen and bar area, acts as the bridge between these two spaces. “You can use it as a dry bar or pull off the covers to the ice wells and use them as a drink, raw bar or combination,” explains Whalen. “The banding on the face of the concrete matches the detailing on the decorative hood in the kitchen, so it very nicely ties the spaces together. When you’re having a party, everyone wants to try to stand at the kitchen or the bar, but that ship’s wheel, as we call it, gives guests a reason to put their focus elsewhere and allow the hosts to continue prepping.”
This new classic kitchen is oriented to make the most of not only the floorplan of the space but the outside property as well. “One of the most beautiful views is truthfully the window over the kitchen sink,” says Whalen. “It seems kind of strange with all the gorgeous water views just through the back slider, but we added this gorgeous window box in that window. In the summer, it’s filled with spectacular flowers, so even though it’s looking at the yard, not the water, it’s a great spot when you’re at the sink or sitting at the breakfast bar.”
The comfort and functionality throughout the home, especially in the kitchen, ensures both the homeowners and their guests can fully enjoy themselves in this seaside gem. “It’s not a house where you feel like you can’t touch anything,” says Whalen. “And that’s hard to achieve.” Hay adds, “It’s a space where you can be comfortable in your flip-flops, but it’s still sophisticated.”
Jean Yves Cousteau once said, “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” The same is true of a home—especially one that presents like a ship on land—and the team at Roomspaces certainly succeeded in creating a feast for the eyes and the soul out of this Chatham space.