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home design

Distinctive elements add flair

In the kitchen, cabinets are painted light grey and light fixtures make a big impact.Michael J. Lee

Jessica Chabot, design director for Needham-based Hawthorn Builders, knows that newly constructed homes can sometimes feel a little sterile.

“Just-built homes can feel cold because spaces haven’t been lived in yet,” says Chabot. “You want to make a new home feel modern of course, but there needs to be a balance since it’s also important that the space is comfortable and feels like it has always been there.” The way to achieve this is to add elements of distinction.

In the kitchen of this new home in Needham designed and built by Chabot’s firm, cabinets are painted a custom light gray hue created by Benjamin Moore. The island is made of cherry-stained dark espresso and counters are “sea pearl” Quartzite, which has many of the qualities of marble but little of the maintenance. While it appears white at first glance, when you look closely hints of teal blue are visible, which adds a bit of flair.

A variety of metals, including antique brass, bronze, satin nickel, and stainless steel, are combined to add visual appeal. “People tend to think that if you have stainless steel appliances you have to do stainless for all of the fixtures,” says Chabot. “I don’t think that’s true; the layering of different metals can work really well together.”


Cabinet hardware is aged brass while the faucet is stainless. “I often treat the faucet as part of the appliances, while the cabinet pulls are more like jewelry,” says Chabot. For the backsplash, hand-glazed subway tile brings in texture and reflects light differently without making a big color statement. Light fixtures have a big impact: above the island two Rejuvenation pendants with spun-aluminum dome shades draw the eye upward. Above the table, the bronze loft chandelier is by Shades of Light.

A built-in desk area provides a perch to spread out and get work done. On the wall behind the desk, Chabot hung a corkboard with the back burlap-sheathed side facing out. “I liked the texture better rather than the flat piece of cork,” she says, of the piece that the family uses to tack notes to one another. “And the burlap conceals pinholes.”


Jaci Conry can be reached at