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Pretty, practical

Kid-friendly features and a striking vaulted ceiling make this Medfield family’s kitchen addition both sensible and easy on the eye.

<b>NEW HEIGHTS</b> The homeowners splurged on a lofty wood-clad ceiling that creates an open, airy feel. Most of the classic white cabinets were kept low, leaving room for plenty of windows.Michael J. Lee/Michael J Lee Photography LLC

TRACEY ROGERS LOVED her Medfield home, but she hated her kitchen. Part of a great room, the galley kitchen was small and dated and hugely inefficient for a family of five. Rogers and her husband, Gordon Johnson, dreamed of a kitchen with its own defined space that would accommodate their family’s needs today and when their three children, who are now 7, 11, and 13, get older.

Three years ago, Rogers turned to Medfield architect David Sharff to design the perfect kitchen. He devised a 300-square-foot addition off the great room that ties in with the home’s existing architecture. “In most instances when we do kitchen renovations, we take space from another part of the house,” says Sharff. “In this situation, because we created an entirely new area, we didn’t have to make many compromises.”


It was essential to Rogers that the kitchen be light-filled and inviting, so Sharff gave the room a 12-foot-high vaulted, painted- wood ceiling and numerous windows. To enhance the room’s bright, airy appeal, Rogers selected white cabinetry with a clean, classic look crafted by Gary Whitehouse of Walpole-based J&M/Creative Cabinet. Sharff kept the upper cabinets to a minimum to prevent the room from feeling too heavy and allow for more windows.

An ample-sized island accommodates the whole family comfortably. “It’s not only used during mealtime,” says Sharff, “it was designed to be a place where the kids can sit and work on a cooking project or their homework.”

And it scores on chores. “The kids’ plates and cups are stored in the island,” says Rogers, “so they can empty the dishwasher and put their stuff away easily.” The island’s easy-to-reach built-in microwave drawer lets the kids participate in meal preparation.

Instead of using designer tile for the backsplash, Rogers opted for basic subway tile – and then splurged on the ceiling. That wood-clad detail still wows her after two years. “The ceiling makes the space pop; it’s so dramatic,” she says. “People are always complimenting us on it.”


Counters are honed absolute black granite, and the island is topped with teak – another unusual choice that gives the room character. The space that was the galley kitchen became a mudroom. The dining table, complete with bright blue wooden chairs, is located in the great room, which is connected to the new kitchen by a transom that Sharff designed.

“The room is both realistic and beautiful,” says Rogers, who is confident that her kitchen will suit her family for a long, long time.


BEFORE EMBARKING on a kitchen project, architect David Sharff recommends considering two commonly overlooked questions:

WHAT APPLIANCES ARE BEST FOR YOU? The number of stoves, ovens, refrigerators, dishwashers, etc. available today is immense. “There is so much variety in terms of function and cost, it can take a lot of time to research appliances,” says Sharff. “It’s not just about what looks good; the models you choose can dictate how a kitchen comes together from a technical perspective.” For example, commercial-grade cooktops require elaborate exhaust systems that need to be accounted for well in advance of construction.

HOW HIGH- OR LOW-MAINTENANCE DO YOU WANT YOUR KITCHEN TO BE? During the design phase, people tend to focus on how the kitchen will look and function, but they often don’t consider maintenance until they’ve lived in the room. Lower-maintenance products include wood cabinets, engineered-stone counters, and tile flooring. Higher-maintenance materials include wood floors, which may have to be refinished after five years; painted cabinets, which may chip; and natural-stone counters that need to be resealed once a year. But Sharff says that the added maintenance may be worth it. “Wood and stone are inherently beautiful materials that develop lovely patinas over time.”


Jaci Conry is a writer and editor on Cape Cod. Send comments to