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If you ask David Davis to list his favorite places, vying for the top spot likely would be the French Lacanche range in the remodeled kitchen of the Newburyport home he shares with his wife, Beth Davis, and their four children.

With a view of the garden and warm sun drifting in through a new skylight, most nights find David happily perched at the stove, perhaps making his family’s favorite, paella. Beauty abounds: a backsplash of handmade concrete tiles in an arabesque motif; a custom-made soapstone sink; custom cabinetry essential for the small space; and fresh paint and light fixtures.

The kitchen’s remodel was in the dreaming stage for the Davises for several years. When their children were older and they were ready to dive in, the couple called Holly Gagne, principal of her namesake interior design studio in Rowley, and her lead designer, Tina Sanchez, who had completed another remodel project for the Davis family several years ago.

Gagne was quick to see the stately beauty of the two-story American Federalist home, but also its drawbacks, especially the kitchen, which lacked efficiency and functionality. And there were design hiccups. “They loved the home’s details,” Gagne says of Beth and David, “but it didn’t complement their family’s lifestyle.”

Set in a quiet, leafy neighborhood, the house was built in 1819 by Edward Toppan for his bride, Susan Smith. While the Davis family loved the home’s history and elegance, parts of it—especially the kitchen—were not practical for a busy family with children. Lighting was not conducive for cooking, and movement around the kitchen was awkward. “They loved the character of the home, which had been infused with French Renaissance style by the previous owners. But this meant it was not functional for their family of six,” Gagne says. “This was the challenge.”

For this major kitchen redo, Gagne and Sanchez first considered the big picture, including the adjoining dining room, where the family sits down to dinner every night. “The dining room had to be cohesive with the kitchen,” she says. Working with John Hefferan of J Hefferan Construction in Newburyport, the crew removed the wall dividing the kitchen and dining room, almost doubling the space of the original without changing the footprint, and erected a reclaimed beam to distinguish the two.

Opening the dining room to the kitchen provides a visual connection to the cook and increases views; one special view runs from the range all the way to the dining room fireplace. But the opening also presented design challenges, Gagne says: “Adding the beams, posts, and wood framing around the skylights was intentional to reinforce the home’s spirit.”

Today the kitchen and dining area shines with beautiful, functional elements: an Arto backsplash above the range that is crafted with handmade concrete tiles with an arabesque motif; a deep custom-made soapstone sink; and a much bigger island with a prep sink.

Walls are light and bright, with a subtle touch of Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter paint on the cabinetry and open shelving. Except for the new character-grade wide-plank white oak flooring, all the exposed wood is reclaimed. Some of the room’s features are style statements created by Gagne and Sanchez, including relocating the fridge to afford more room for a special door with a sophisticated black patina and brass metalwork, which was installed by a previous owner.

The owners especially like the way the team linked the kitchen and dining room. While Beth and David are busy professionals—they are both medical doctors—eating at the walnut dining table, made by Vermont Farm Table, is a staple of family life. Having it open to the kitchen is a big plus. As Gagne says, “It’s the place for family dialogue.”

Another spot for family togetherness is a sweet nook that edges toward the dining room. Here, on a comfy upholstered bench with custom pillows by Willow Designs in Marblehead, family and friends chat while David makes dinner in his newly refurbished kitchen.

Perhaps Beth is buttering up the cook, but she raves about her husband’s culinary skills well beyond his special paella: “He is awesome at making pizza and pesto!”