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When Arlene Greene purchased her condo at the Andover Country Club in 2018, she was excited to move closer to her daughter. She was not nearly as enthused about the kitchen in her new home. The cabinets were an unpleasant shade of yellow and the refrigerator door bumped into the table when it opened. 

“The kitchen was hideous,” Greene remembers. 

Greene, who loves to cook, bake, and entertain, was looking to turn the space into a kitchen that blended formality and function, yet remained welcoming. Because her kitchen and living room are attached in an open-space floor plan, she wanted a design that could connect the two open spaces, yet retain a sense of warmth and intimacy. 

So Greene did what she always does when faced with a kitchen that needs an overhaul: she called Mark Raye at Coastal Kitchens in Seabrook, New Hampshire. Raye had transformed the kitchen in Greene’s previous house in Winchester, and it came out so well that the woman who bought the house paid the full asking price, noting that she was determined to get the kitchen for herself. Raye had also completed a beautiful kitchen renovation for Greene’s daughter, so she knew she would be in good hands. Later, Greene’s daughter would have Raye design and complete another kitchen for her at her lake house. 

Raye, an Andover native, has been working in remodeling and construction for more than 35 years. After graduating from Andover High School in 1974, he attended the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. He then threw himself into the building boom of the 1980s, working in almost every aspect of construction, from framing to roofing to siding. 

In 2000, he decided to deepen his knowledge of cabinetry, furniture-making, and woodworking. He studied at the prestigious North Bennett Street School, the country’s oldest trade school, as well as the Furniture Institute of Massachusetts in Beverly, where he learned how to pay painstaking attention to the details of his craftsmanship. 

He opened Coastal Kitchens in 2010, with the mission of collaborating with clients to create a space where they enjoy being. To achieve that goal, Raye works with a team that includes experienced cabinetmakers, talented decorators, and certified kitchen designers. 

“I’ve done over 700 kitchens—there’s really nothing we haven’t seen before,” Raye says. “There’s really nothing we can’t do.” 

The process begins with cabinet selection. Coastal Kitchens carries five high-quality cabinetry lines including Grabill and Executive as well as a full range of hardware and countertop options. This variety allows nearly endless options for customization—working on the Andover kitchen, Greene showed Raye a picture of a glass cabinet door she had fallen in love with and he was able to have the design custom made for her by the craftsmen at Grabill. 

Once cabinets are chosen, clients work with the team to assemble the details—backsplash tiles, hardware, cabinet inserts—that will bring their kitchen vision to life. In Greene’s case, this meant finding a way to incorporate four ovens, a six-burner range, a baker’s cabinet, and ample storage without a commercial kitchen look. The eleven-foot custom designed island provided the needed space for food preparation as well as for entertaining in an elegant atmosphere. 

“The client is always number one,” Raye says. “Their needs and desires are always first on the list.” 

The Coastal Kitchen team’s extensive knowledge of materials and design allow them to suggest elements clients would never have thought of, but which are exactly what they want. For Greene’s kitchen, Raye suggested Grabill inset cabinets, a style that hides the hinges and internal hardware to create a seamless, high-end furniture look. “The design work was just phenomenal,” she says. “His attention to detail is phenomenal.” 

In fact, Greene is so pleased with her kitchen that she’s already looking ahead to the next time she gets to work with Raye and Coastal Kitchens. 

“I’m not done yet,” she laughs.

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