Shrewsbury, MA — The description is an odd one: Rustic Elegance. It evokes a little bit country, a little bit Park Avenue. For designers Mariette Barsoum, CKD and interior designer Heidi Marika-Perez, of Westborough, MA-based Divine Kitchens, the challenge was to take their clients’ style – which Barsoum describes as laid back but with a passion for pretty – and make a truly personalized kitchen.
“They’re people who enjoy nature and the outdoors,” says Barsoum. “We used elements of that when we selected materials, but we were also conscious of the design of the rest of the home.”
Barsoum describes the décor as “informal traditional,” and notes that every step was taken to not stray too far from that style when reconfiguring the kitchen. “From the rich stained hardwood floors, the tumbled stone backsplash and painted cabinetry, the remodel turned it into a very different kitchen.”
“The major needs of the kitchen involved opening up the space to the living room,” says Barsoum. “The homeowners wanted to make the kitchen and family room seem like one space. The high ceilings and beams also needed to be addressed. The homeowners didn’t like the beams at all and wanted to paint them to blend into the background.”
The solution on which Barsoum settled was to close the 42" opening into the dining room and enlarge the 36" opening into the living room to 10'.
“Next we took down the wall separating the dining room from the living room and finished the opening with the same molding details that we used in the cabinetry in the kitchen,” says the designer. “This achieved the initial goal to have the space flow from one room to the next.”
To address the problem of the irksome visible beams, Barsoum and company came up with a solution to dress them up in a way that pleased the clients.
“We covered the ceiling with 5" wide Woodhaven ceiling planks from Armstrong that have a whitewashed look to them. We decided the beams themselves actually needed to be emphasized instead of hidden, so we stained them in a rich, dark shade. They popped beautifully against the planks on the ceiling,” says Barsoum.
Once the nuts and bolts were worked out, all parties were satisfied with the resulting airy atmosphere. “Prior to the remodel, the kitchen was lacking integration with the living room and surrounding spaces; once we opened up the walls, it really allowed us to give the clients exactly what they were looking for,” she notes.
With high ceilings and a lot of space to work with, the key to improving the function of the 19'x13' room lay in creating a flow around a newly included island, and utilizing storage solutions to fit the needs of the family.
But first, the design needed to address the clients’ desire for a drastic layout change within the kitchen.
“During the planning of the main cooking area, we decided to keep the cooktop, sink and fridge close, while moving the double ovens to the opposite wall, as it was determined that the clients don’t use them as much,” says Barsoum.
Since the double ovens were placed on one side of the entry to the living room, the designers visually balanced the other side of that entry with the inclusion of a tall pantry.
“We used a tall angled cabinet at the end of the run, which softened the corner and the pathway from the mudroom into the kitchen,” Barsoum notes. “This tall cabinet is also designed to hold a television.” The television faces the bench seat/table area; its inclusion was a special requirement the family had.
“We double-stacked the cabinets and designed the elegant hood at the same level, to accentuate the high ceilings,” she adds.
“When redesigning the space, we configured the cabinetry to exclude the original peninsula, and include an island with seating for two,” says Barsoum.
The team added a number of custom touches to enhance the overall look of the room.
“We kept the original window locations the same, but added a bank of windows where a sliding door had been in the original design. We built a custom bench seat below the bank of windows and a full-height bookcase for displaying objects at one end of the seat. The bench seat does two things: it moves all of the family activities such as meals, homework, kids’ games, etc. to the table, which is out of the way of the cook, and it acts as additional storage for things the homeowners need, but don’t often use.”
The plumbing configuration stayed the same within the space, with a Houzer sink/Danze faucet combination in the perimeter countertop.
“We did add a Danze pot filler over the stove for convenience,” Barsoum notes.
Once the Great Room was structurally in place, detail work on the kitchen took center stage. The goal for the expansive space was to make “a huge aesthetic improvement,” according to Barsoum, in addition to the functional flow and efficient space usage the previous design lacked.
A big part of this was the custom cabinetry and the inter-play of its function, coupled with a design focused around the homeowners’ tastes, the two designers note.
“We used custom cabinets and got a modern effect by using a full-overlay with a custom-designed, raised-panel door with a square edge,” says Barsoum. The clients preferred a painted cabinet, but did not want a typical chilly off-white, so Barsoum and Marika-Perez worked with them to create a complement of neutrals to warm up the space.
“We used a tan color for the perimeter of the space and khaki on the island,” says Barsoum. The warm neutrals set the stage for other rich details to be set in place that, in conjunction with the new format of the kitchen, fulfilled the homeowners’ desire for a comfortable, functional space.
A taste for nature defines the clients’ style, so elements and colors that reflect natural materials and tones envelop the space. This is evident in the fruitwood-stained, pre-finished walnut hardwood floors, where the rich color partners with the custom cherry wood top on the center island, and the subtle slate tones of the 2"-thick Lagos Blue CaesarStone on the perimeter counters. The backsplash throughout is tumbled natural stone from Dal-Tile.
For the family, selecting the right appliances was crucial.
“When choosing the appliances, the clients paid particular attention to the kind of refrigerator they added. They wanted something that would accept a panel for a seamless look with their cabinetry,” says Barsoum. They went with both a refrigerator and an oven from GE Monogram.
“They also opted to go with a microwave/oven unit as they don’t use the microwave that often,” points out the designer. The oven itself provided a design opportunity for Barsoum and company.
“When designing the oven cabinet, we had some space left on the wall, so we incorporated some cool pull-outs for additional storage,” she says.
A Bosch dishwasher and cooktop by Wolf round out the appliance selection.
Finally, the lighting scheme of the space was completely redesigned, according to Barsoum.
“We added recessed, undercabinet and above-cabinet lights in addition to two hanging fixtures,” she says, noting fixtures came from both Schonbek and Hubbardton Forge.
For more about this project, click here.