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Character strengths – kitchen by Wendy LeStage Hodgson

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This kitchen melds seamlessly with its architectural setting

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There are several ways to downplay the impact of a kitchen that faces open-plan living spaces. One approach is to blend the design into its surroundings; another is to tuck functionality clean out of sight.

This kitchen, in a traditional-style home dating back to the 1930s, forms part of a broader remodel by the owner Wendy LeStage Hodgson, interior designer at Carpenter & MacNeille. The design occupies the footprint of the original kitchen and mudroom, with further space provided by the addition, says Hodgson.

"A new great room led the makeover and I wanted the kitchen to merge with this adjacent space. We set out to connect the rooms visually in a variety of ways.

"I introduced crown mouldings to the ceiling and custom range hood that match those found elsewhere in the home. And the classic paneled cabinetry is echoed by wall panels in the living room."

The modest island plays a pivotal role in assimilating one space into the other. Painted a contrasting color to the white perimeter cabinetry, it has the presence of a stand-alone piece of furniture. Its turned legs and slender countertop, much like a tabletop, add to the effect.

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"Building on this idea, we chose bureau hardware for the island and the wall cabinets," Hodgson says. "These are in two different styles. Opting for drawers for the under-counter cabinetry helps tie these elements together."

The placement of an antique bureau and an oil painting in close vicinity to the island further blurs the line between kitchen and living space.

Attention to scale was important to establish a sense of connection between the dining table and chairs and the island, says the designer. Concealment was also part of the plan.

The convection oven, microwave and storage are tucked away in the pantry alley. The pantries and refrigerator are integrated with the cabinetry, and the cooktop is partly concealed by the island.

Some storage is relegated to another room – a crockery cupboard is set in the owner's office, beyond the alley.

"New floors throughout the kitchen and surrounding areas are an important unifying element," Hodgson says. "In fact, visitors often have trouble telling where the original house finishes and the addition begins. This flooring is in wide-plank pine that has been distressed and oiled for a more antiqued look. The tung-oil finish is easy to maintain."

The lighting is a combination of task spot lights and a traditional-style pendant lamp, to which the owner has added a few playful Christmas stars.

Credit List

Interior designer, kitchen designer and ownerWendy LeStage Hodgson, Carpenter & MacNeille Architects and Builders (Essex, MA)
CabinetryPainted wood, Farrow & Ball in Bone
CountertopsCarrara marble, honed
FloorsPine with tung-oil finish by Carlisle Flooring
Doors and windowsMarvin
Cooktop, integrated refrigerationViking
Kitchen sinkFarmers sink from Whitehaus
FaucetsBarber Wilsons & Co in polished nickel
StoryCharles Moxham
PhotographyJamie Cobel

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