There’s a certain degree of difficulty in designing the kitchen of a house that is over 300 years old. However the challenges of dealing with a property of that age are definitely outweighed by the joys, in the end.
When we started working on this Manchester by the Sea house we began discovering the history that had unfolded over the last 300 years. The original structure was built in 1700 as a simple farm house, in what was then a quiet, agricultural area of coastal Massachusetts. In 1885 the property underwent its first major renovation, in fact the owner actually had the house moved from where it sat on the road side back into the apple orchard where it stands today. Two gambrel wings were added to the house, greatly increasing the size. A number of intricate interior details were also incorporated; two stairways with hand carved balustrades, a fireplace sourced from an historic home in Boston along with traditional wood paneling. Much of this beautiful detail work remains in the house today and historic charm emanates throughout.
The current owners have also put their stamp on the property, adding a beautiful glass conservatory right off the kitchen that has more of an outdoor than indoor feel. “The kitchen was in great need of remodeling when we bought the house. It was very small; the cabinets were dated, and utilitarian; and the woodwork was stained dark and worn. Everything was very tired. Since meals are such a large part of our life, we wanted to make the kitchen functional but very warm and inviting. We also wanted to make the space work as a transition between the dining room, to one side, and the entirely glass conservatory, to the other.”
Jewett Farms + Co. worked with the owners to fine tune a design that stayed true to the historic character of the house, but was also a functional use of the space. “We wanted a lot of storage space and food preparation space, because it really is a working kitchen, and we wanted open cabinets to display some of the many lovely serving pieces that we have. This was probably the biggest design challenge, because although the kitchen is large, it has many windows and doorways.” The other major challenge for JF was a large masonry heater – right in the middle of the kitchen! With clever use of lower and upper cabinetry, a flowing floor plan and some innovative design ideas, we were able to create ample cabinet space, and very functional food preparation areas.
Classic white painted cabinets paired with dark green granite provide the perfect backdrop for the couple’s collection of blue and white china, and the ocean inspired handmade backsplash tiles tie in to the house’s coastal location. “We wanted a very light look, so we went with the white cabinets, and added the door with sidelights that leads to the herb garden, and added a large bay window over the sink. As a result, light floods the room, particularly in the morning.”
Function alone is not enough for this kitchen – in order to fit the rest of the house the design needed to incorporate touches of elegance and handcrafted details. Jewett Farms + Co. added details such as Barley Twist columns on cabinet corners and built in cherry bookshelves with molding mimicking the cabinetry, for the owners many cookbooks. But the sweetest surprise in this kitchen is a curved corner cabinet, complete with solid maple curved drawers. This is a very special piece that not only looks spectacular, but also creates an easy flow through what would have been a boxy corner.
“The kitchen has been a huge success. It is hard to pick a favorite area, but if we had to, it would probably be the curved cabinets at the end. They provide needed passage space in that area, and accomplish it with an exceptionally pleasing and graceful look.”