Globe magazine | Your Home

An uncluttered kitchen in a green Somerville condo

Extra drawers and shelves in cabinetry he built himself add up to a sleek space for cooking and entertaining.

Federico Erebia’s new kitchen has a second sink and more counter space (where an eat-in area once was) and bamboo cabinetry he made, using materials that meet the development’s green standards.
Shelly Harrison Photography
Federico Erebia’s new kitchen has a second sink and more counter space (where an eat-in area once was) and bamboo cabinetry he made, using materials that meet the development’s green standards.

FEDERICO EREBIA WAS READY FOR SOMETHING NEW. After gutting and completely renovating a dark, run-down Victorian in the South End and living in it for 17 years, it was time to go lighter and fresher. Time to live in a place where the corners were precise and the floors didn’t slope. Where everything was simple and clean.

As he was selling his South End home, he read an article about Maxwell’s Green, a sustainably designed neighborhood in Somerville. The eco-friendly nature of the residences — the developer has applied for the building industry’s LEED Silver certification for the project — appealed to Erebia, and he loved what a change it would be from the South End. “It has a completely different feel — it’s brand new, and I could put my own mark on the major spaces.”

When it comes to remodeling, Erebia is a pro. The Brown-trained physician had studied design at RISD (while completing his medical residency) and then taken classes in fine woodworking at the North Bennet Street School in Boston. In 2007, he added a new element to his career, launching FEWorks, a woodworking shop in Somerville. “I was able to build my dream studio in Somerville, and that opened my eyes to the city,” he says. Now he divides his working hours between practicing internal medicine at Fenway South End and crafting cabinets and furniture in his Somerville studio.


At Maxwell’s Green, Erebia bought a 2,000-square-foot condo that had been one of the development’s model homes. Then he had the contractors remove the existing cabinetry and appliances from the kitchen. (The pieces were used to finish other units, so nothing was wasted.)

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Employing bamboo and white Silestone countertop material, Erebia built custom cabinets and drawers that keep the clutter at bay. “I didn’t want anything to distract from the simplicity of the space. So I designed the kitchen to utilize the most wall space,” he explains. “I took away the fancy hood, put the microwave above the stove, and built cabinets up to the ceiling. I replaced the eat-in area with a lot more cabinetry, more counter space, and a second sink.’’ He also upgraded the appliances to the Viking Professional series. Then he added more pendant lights and under-cabinet lighting, and he repainted in a warm hue that complements the light brown tones of the bamboo. These subtle adjustments, he says, “really change the feel of a space.” And he made sure his additions adhered to the development’s green standards.

When Erebia isn’t treating patients or building with wood, he’s sculpting, taking pictures — he took the photographs of Provincetown Bay that decorate his kitchen and the adjacent sitting area — and cooking. “I use my kitchen every day,” Erebia says. “When I’m not at Fenway, I make three meals in my kitchen, and I entertain about every few weeks.” But thanks to thoughtful design (and plenty of storage), this kitchen feels new, clean, light, and serene no matter how much use it gets.


Tips for a sleek, tidy kitchen ...

“I love uncluttered spaces,” says Erebia. “In kitchens, it’s all about storage.” He offers these tips for a clean, serene kitchen:

> Use as much wall space as you can without overwhelming the room with bulky masses.


> Put away small appliances that you don’t use regularly. “For me, only the coffee maker stays out. When I need the mixer, food processor, or toaster, I take it out, then put it back afterward. An expensive espresso maker might look nice, but if it’s not used regularly, it’s taking up valuable counter space and contributing to clutter.”

> Add shelves to your cabinets. “Most cabinets don’t have enough shelves. Better shelving helps with organization and access. Bowls, platters, and pots and pans are usually stacked too high, and it can be a chore to get at the one you want. I have a lot more shelves than the average person.”

> Rethink your kitchen drawers — and consider including a larger number of shallow drawers instead of fewer deep drawers. “Most kitchens don’t have enough drawers. Ideally, the drawer height would be the height needed for the contents within, without layering too many things. Drawer dividers are so important to maximize use of space.”

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