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At one time, kitchen interiors, as a practice, were not painted. Instead, natural wood surfaces were left alone, appearing almost everywhere—sometimes even on walls. Katie and Rick Gebhardt, a young married couple in Boxford, love the sheen and variation of wood, especially when sunshine drifts in, changing colors, shadows, and mood.  

Katie Gebhardt, the main cook in the family, also loves midcentury style. As it turns out, the two components—natural wood surfaces and mid-20th-century styling—are a match made in heaven, especially when they have the flourishes and conveniences of modern living.

When the couple brought their wishes to Mike Serafino, the owner of Heartwood Kitchens in Danvers, he was delighted. “Katie had a very strong vision,” Serafino says. “Stylistically, she knows what she wants.”

The Gebhardts may be ahead of a trend: Kitchen styles that reach for inspiration to the 1960s and ’70s are gaining in popularity, Serafino says. “Midcentury, with a modern twist, has always been around, influencing color, shape, natural wood tones, and textures.” 

Today, the Gebhardt kitchen beams with abundant alder wood—gleaming with a rich honey color—and a large tile splash-back in a soft bluish version of avocado green. Offsetting the tiles are walls covered in a subtle off-white shade, White Dove by Sherman Williams. 

Consistent lines and slab drawers and doors of the cabinets, by Mouser Cabinetry in Kentucky, give the space a clean look. As Gebhardt says, “I wanted a light, airy all-wood kitchen, and this fits the bill.”

Serafino, who has been swinging a hammer since he was 10 under the tutelage of his father, a cabinetmaker, embraced the project, along with Sherry Croft, the company’s kitchen designer. First, however, there were massive changes to be made. “I measured and drew the space, suggesting walls to be moved,” Serafino says. Also, at the Gebhardts’ suggestion, the ceiling was removed and vaulted. Today, it soars to 14 feet at the pitch. The difference, Serafino says, is astonishing. All the kitchen windows and doors were replaced. 

Serafino’s initial look at the existing kitchen uncovered another problem: the laundry nook, which was tucked in a kitchen closet. The Gebhardts agreed to relocate the laundry room, and Serafino saw the perfect next step: It is now a pantry, located between a doorway and the fridge. 

After the macro plans were drawn, Croft “turned it into a kitchen,” as Serafino notes. Interior designer and decorator Linda Goodman helped pull together color and shapes. Another essential team member was the contractor, PG Hanson Co. in Melrose. “It was a bit of a challenging space, very long,” Serafino says. 

Katie Gebhardt pined for a roomy fridge and fell for an impressive 48-inch Thermador, but the kitchen was too small for it. Goodman suggested recessing the fridge into the dining room; the homeowners loved the idea. As Serafino says, “Katie let us steal two feet from the dining room to give to the kitchen.” Her dining room is still big enough to seat a large gathering. 

Today the kitchen measures 21 feet long and 13 feet wide. “Thirteen is kind of a magic number in kitchens,” Serafino says. “For a nice big island and cabinetry in the island and on the wall, I usually need 13 feet.” The resulting smaller dining room was worth it to the Gebhardts. It afforded them the large island, topped in quartz with shades of white, brown, and gold.  Everyone agreed that the best choice for the kitchen floor was the beautiful stained white oak flooring in the rest of the house.  

The restructuring of the room simplified cooking and created a light, airy space to showcase some of Katie Gebhardt’s favorite items, such as a vintage handmade Turkish rug. 

Katie Gebhardt admits that she doesn’t love cooking, but with 8-year-old twins, she spends much time in the kitchen and besides, she says, “we love a good meal.” 

It seems to run in the family. As Katie lightheartedly explains, “My great-grandmother was a cook for wealthy Boston families when she came here from Ireland, so I have lots of her recipes that I enjoy making, and getting to share a bit of her with friends and family. Although she would probably be horrified at us because we are vegetarian, so no corned beef in our house!”