Show me a design enthusiast who doesn’t love a kitchen renovation, and I’ll show you someone who isn’t a design enthusiast. With so many options and fun to be had, kitchen design, be it from scratch or a remodel, is so appealing because the sky (OK, the roof) is the limit. From classic whites and neutrals to pops of color, from traditional to modern and everywhere in between, mixing and matching preferences to fit client lifestyles is very much on-trend. That’s why it’s no surprise that local designer Holly Gagne, owner and principal designer at Holly Gagne Interior Design, has a plate full of plans.
One of the designs Gagne and her team developed was recently featured as part of the 18th Annual Newburyport Kitchen Tour. The home, owned by Dolores Person, owner and broker of William Raveis Real Estate in Newburyport (which specializes in Newburyport properties), and her husband, Rich, did not disappoint. A true reflection of its owners and of Gagne’s personal design philosophy (to design for every client’s unique lifestyle and priorities), the house, simply stated, was a standout. The entire design process was aided by Dolores and Rich, who presented Gagne and her team with a handful of images they really connected with, invaluable data for Gagne and her team. The Persons were also open to new ideas and suggestions and to moving outside of their “comfort zone”—helping to create that delicate push and pull between client and designer that helps bring about outstanding results.
Beauty, function, and flow are all given equal billing in a Holly Gagne design. Gagne uses words like “harmony” and “solution driven” to describe her approach to design, and it shows. Her work flows, evoking a sense of peace and calm while still being highly functional.
The Person home is a mix of modern-meets-barn in all the best ways. Situated in one of Newburyport’s newer neighborhoods, the home sits on what was once a 27-acre 19th-century farm. As such, farmhouse-inspired elements are given their due alongside more modern touches, including the bold color featured prominently on the kitchen island (it’s Benjamin Moore’s Newburg Green, for all who will undoubtedly want to know). Sleek Carrara marble countertops from European Quarry Imports in Salem, New Hampshire, are classic and modern at the same time, while spacious cabinets by Newbury Cabinets are as functional as they are beautiful.
The dining table itself is crafted from wall panels from 19 Federal Street in Newburyport, and the hard-to-miss historic Woodbridge School of Newbury sign (circa 1898) is displayed above the kitchen entryway.
A sliding French door is as much of a showpiece as it is a functioning door that hides the pantry when not in use. Behind it, the contents are likely to be the envy of many a homeowner, including a Marvel wine fridge, a full bar and arguably, the holy grail of kitchens—a second dishwasher.
The floors are prefinished engineered white oak by Seacoast Floor Supply in South Hampton, New Hampshire, and are an understated nod to the house’s farm history and another embodiment of Gagne’s style, incorporating function, design, and historical elements seemingly effortlessly.
But bringing stunning and often complex designs from paper to “real life” is anything but effortless, and Gagne (who earned her Master of Interior Architecture from the Boston Architectural College) and her team like to get in on the ground level and be as involved in the process as they can from day one. Whether it’s a full-scale renovation or addition, or brand-new construction, Gagne and her staff routinely work with architects, general contractors, and builders to ensure every client’s design is brought to life in the best way possible.
The houses that Gagne designs are also homes in the truest sense of the word. In many instances children live in them, they are not design pieces to be admired from afar but couches that are sat on, breakfast counters where toddler meals are eaten, spaces where friends are entertained, and homes where pets not only live but are loved. “I truly want to give people the ability to live comfortably in their home” says Gagne who believes it can still be a well-designed space.
While design preferences can vary widely from client to client, many do crave a clean aesthetic, which often serves as a perfect backdrop—and an opportunity to add in “less-safe” design choices, like wallpaper, which, Gagne reassures, is not the lifetime commitment it once was. Personal touches are worth it; design risks, no matter how great or small, are worth it in order to make your mark on a space. It just makes good design sense to “bring a little bit more of your personality” into the spaces you spend time in every day, says Gagne. Being comfortable and happy in a functional space isn’t a concept that needs a lot of selling, but it does sound like a great place to get started.
Interior Designer: Holly Gagne Interior Design, 978-432-1337, hollygagne.com
General Contractor: River Village Carpenters
cabinetry: Newbury Cabinets
Countertops: European Quarry Imports, 603-894-6888, europeanquarryimports.com
Floors: Seacoast Floor Supply, 603-944-4654, seacoastfloor.com
Island stools: design within reach
Fireplace surround: Chemetal
Chandelier: Black Rooster Décor
Cabinet hardware: Rejuvenation
Sunroom wallpaper: York Wallcoverings