Your Home: Kitchens and Baths

A bistro-style kitchen in Andover

Tile floors and Corian countertops in an antique home help create a simple, practical space for cooking, entertaining, and getting cozy.

ANN CONSTANTINE TREASURED the historic origins of her 1840 Carpenter Gothic house in Andover. Yet, the white clapboard structure was poorly insulated, the main living spaces overlooked a busy street, and the kitchen was tiny and unsuited to the frequent host’s lifestyle.

Craving a space where she could comfortably cook and entertain, Constantine, an interior designer, worked with an architect to plan a new kitchen with an adjoining sitting area that runs the full width of the house. The new space is three times the size of the old one.

“Since the living and dining rooms face the street, they have little privacy,” she says. The new space is more secluded with a view of the pretty backyard, but its style remains in keeping with the rest of the antique house. Walls are clad with white-painted shiplap paneling, consistent with the style of the house. Floors of wide-plank square-cut pine in the sitting area resemble the structure’s original flooring.


“I was careful not to over-design the room. Using too many materials and patterns doesn’t wear well over time,” says Constantine, who selected simple, timeless fixtures and finishes for a clean, spare look.

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Affordable, low-maintenance classic black and white vinyl tiles cover the kitchen floor, and counters are off-white Corian energized by a bright-white marbleized effect. “People always think it’s stone,” says Constantine. “They’re so surprised when they realize it’s Corian.”

The white lower cabinets, which go straight to the floor, have inset Shaker doors and round white pulls. “I recognized that I would spend a lot of time in the sitting area, and I didn’t want to feel like I was in a kitchen,” says Constantine. Looking to avoid a utilitarian feel, she decided against installing upper cabinets.

Custom elements, including a 3-by-7-foot island rimmed with cherry wood, give the modest kitchen distinct appeal. The large, rounded range hood recalls those of a long-ago era. Constantine sees it as the room’s focal point.

Insulation keeps the space cozy. “In the winter, I freeze in the rest of the house,” she says. The multiple windows overlooking the back garden and woods beyond are energy-efficient. A stunning arched window that she rescued from a local church and retrofitted is situated in a nook surrounded by built-in bookcases.


Constantine loves her white kitchen, but she also designed it to be adjustable. “If I decide I want a change, I can paint the walls on the sides of the range hood a different color. I can adapt it to anything. I can make it feel French, Spanish, or Italian,” says Constantine, whose last gathering was a paella dinner. “It is such a fun space to be in. It feels like a lovely bistro; I couldn’t be happier.”