, Salem, MA


October 11, 2012

Kitchen visions

Designers show off work in tour to benefit Wenham Museum

Kitchens should be easy to work in, with plenty of open space. That’s the recipe favored by several local designers, whose projects will appear in Saturday’s Heart of the Kitchen Tour to benefit the Wenham Museum.

If the formula sounds simple, the results are eye-catching, as visitors can see for themselves in nine kitchens across the North Shore.

In Boxford, for example, Howell Custom Building Group of Lawrence redesigned a kitchen as part of a larger vision for the whole house.

“They wanted to open up space on the first floor,” said Susan Howell, who serves as marketing director at the firm. “They wanted better traffic flow for their family, an easier, nicer living space.”

To do that, they needed to solve two problems, according to Steve Howell, Susan’s husband and the firm’s president: “How to connect the cooking area in with the main part of the kitchen, and how to get the refrigerator more integrated into the kitchen.”

The refrigerator was moved next to the sink, from an isolated position in the room, and now falls into line with the other appliances, and with the sink and countertops.

But the island was also reshaped, from a rectangular block in the center of the room to a longer structure with an angled top; cold granite was replaced with warm, black walnut.

“In winter, granite is not nearly as inviting as the wood,” Howell said. “We also wanted to use the grain of the wood to enhance that angle.”

This surface, now resembling an arm bent at the elbow, embraces the cooking area on one side, while also inviting diners to sit along its overhanging, outer edge, where they can talk to the cook while the meal is being prepared.

Its shape further connects diners to the rest of the house, which has been opened up with new half-walls punctuated with columns.

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