Walking into this kitchen is like walking on a luminescent cloud. The room is pure serenity: soft white shades and gleaming surfaces, with an unexpectedly cozy air.
No one would guess that renovating the room and adjoining areas involved complex structural challenges and a few squirrelly moments of doubt. “The soothing space belies the chaos in creating it,” the homeowner says with a light laugh. Finding solutions meant rerouting ductwork around beams, relocating pipes from a removed interior wall, and finding an innovative approach for radiant-heated floors. And these were just a few of the challenges.
The homeowners, a couple with young-adult children, reveal the magic behind their home’s transformation: a team with an atypical mix of artistic talent, engineering brilliance, and intuitive design sense. The contractor, S+H Construction, Inc., in Cambridge, is headed by a former Fulbright scholar, Sarah Lawson, who watched her architect father build her family’s home while growing up. The S+H project manager, Dan McLaughlin, is also an artist. Interior designer Ingrid Núñez of Design.Create in Lexington grew up amid a minimalist aesthetic, also has an architect father who built her family home, and possesses an innate sense of line, color, and shape. Timothy Coleman of Shelburne, a master craftsman who exhibits in galleries and museums across the country, designs custom furniture. The top-notch structural engineer, Fergal Brennock of Watertown, also played a critical role.
The original house, on a hilltop surrounded by conservation land, was custom-built in the 1960s. While its lines were beautiful, some key elements—including steel beams and walls of windows—presented obstacles to renovation. But the owners longed for a transformation, especially in the kitchen, which was small, closed, and off-putting. “We wanted a welcoming and bright gathering place,” the homeowner says.
Designer Núñez envisioned the project—the kitchen and adjacent spaces—as one open, well-lit area. “I wanted to create a cozy feel without it seeming austere,” Núñez says. The work started with tearing down the kitchen and a greenhouse that would become an indoor patio and bar. Núñez oversaw the complete interior design, from architectural layouts to planning furniture, textures, finishes, and color schemes.
Today, the kitchen is a vision of soft shades of white, bracketed both ends by dove-gray walls, one with an array of stainless steel appliances. The kitchen’s new open design affords the homeowners views of gardens in the front and back, and a courtyard with a fountain. The new large island provides seating, cooking, and work areas, perfect for bringing groups together.
Bolstering the clean look is a variety of storage options, with sleek custom cabinets and closets that provide a place for everything yet fade away. The warm notes of teakwood show up in open shelving and a stunning table designed and built by Coleman. White surfaces, including Silestone countertops, a rippled glass tile backsplash, and cabinet and closet doors, play beautifully off the wood’s textural element.
Coleman’s handcrafted furniture adds warmth and artistry. In the adjacent dining room is a corner cabinet of bubinga, English sycamore, and mahogany, which Coleman carved with a floral pattern that cuts through sycamore to reveal darker mahogany underneath. Mahogany strips separate the “panes.”
The adjoining indoor patio is a beautiful space lit by four skylights. Shots of color ring out in a yellow easy chair, vibrant paintings, one by McLaughlin, and a striking planter built by Coleman from the original teak countertop. A heated bluestone floor and original redwood paneling add to the natural feel, as Núñez says, “bringing the outside in.” Flanking the patio are a bar and floating desk.
Hidden within the pristine kitchen are complex details that required creative solutions. One challenge was installing radiant heat without raising the floor. McLaughlin created a new subfloor between the joists, making room for radiant piping. Another was avoiding unwanted sound transmission to the master suite above the kitchen. The homeowners worked with Núñez and McLaughlin to create a many-pronged solution, including a mounting system for the blueboard panels, using sound-absorbing material to acoustically isolate the ceiling from the joists above.
Another piece of the solution for muffling sound is a ceiling system of wood slats designed by Núñez, reflecting details from another part of the home. The slatted ceiling runs along one side of the new space, delineating the circulation from the front foyer to the home’s back entry. Pauses are created by a subtle change in the width of the slats.
As is the case with many of the home’s features, the slatted ceiling system is as beautiful as it is functional, and was a team effort. “The renovation was a real melding of talents,” says the homeowner, “drawing on diverse skills to beautifully achieve a shared vision.”
Contractor: S+H Construction, Inc., 617-876-8286, shconstruction.com
Interior Designer: Design.Create, 617-538-9273, indesigncreate.com
Craftsman: Timothy Coleman Furniture, 413-768-1548
Structural Engineer: Fergal Brennock, 617-828-0376