Older homes, especially those that have been expanded over the years, can feel disjointed. In Jennifer and Jeremy Schley Johnson’s house in Beverly, the main living spaces were completely cut off from the kitchen. “Prior owners relocated the kitchen to an addition off the back corner of the house,” Jennifer Schley Johnson says. “There was no connection between it and the rest of the house.”
As part of a recent kitchen renovation, the couple — who share the 1907 Georgian Revival with Henry, 8, Willa, 5, and their cat, Lucy — decided to demolish the pantry, which blocked the flow between the kitchen and the other first-floor rooms. That opened things up, but the homeowners were uncertain about what to do with the newfound space. Enter interior designer Sashya Thind Fernandes of ID8 Design Studio in Boston, who created a mudroom and gorgeous eat-in kitchen.
Since the family primarily uses the home’s side entrance, the newly vacant area was the logical place for a mudroom. The challenge became how to differentiate it and keep dirt, backpacks, and boots from spilling into the kitchen. “None of the walls or door casings align, so defining a clear-cut rectangular area wasn’t possible,” says Fernandes. “It would have jutted awkwardly into the working part of the kitchen, colliding with the island.”
Fernandes’ solution, an arrangement of hexagonal floor tiles, blurs the boundaries between the rooms. The black, white, and gray tiles spread out from the corner where the back wall meets the family room, forming a loosely triangular shape. A schoolhouse-style bench (Schley Johnson is a special education teacher) and storage baskets anchor the space. Above the bench, Schley Johnson hung a coat rack with vintage shoe lasts fastened to it. “The coat rack is a nod to the first owner of our home, who was a shoe designer at a nearby factory, as well as Beverly’s industrial past,” she says.
The kitchen got a major face lift while retaining its original footprint. The first step was to reface the wood-tone cabinetry in bright white. Then Fernandes worked with the couple to replace the brown granite countertops with honed black granite and pale gray schist, and updated the backsplash with ceramic hive tile. Finally, taking cues from the brass accents on the existing range, Fernandes replaced the drawer handles, door pulls, pendant lights, and faucet with brass for a touch of glam.
On the other side of the room, she removed the cast-iron gas stove that dominated the breakfast nook, installed baseboard heating, and designed an airy banquette that hugs all three walls. Cognac-colored leather seat backs and cushions informed by the modern Chesterfield sofa in the family room lend an equestrian feel. “I love the warmth it brings to the kitchen,” Schley Johnson says. “I’m glad we didn’t go traditional.”
In the adjacent family room, Fernandes helped bridge the kitchen’s neutral scheme with the more colorful palette of the dining and living rooms, which Schley Johnson decorated herself. A textural blue rug echoes the deep blue walls in the dining room as well as the cozy velvet sofa in the living room. A sculptural brass wall sconce punctuates the gallery wall (Schley Johnson mapped out placement of the wall’s art on a snow day), and an embroidered armchair adds another spot of blue, along with a rich yellow that echoes the geometric rug in the dining room.
“It was a very collaborative project, but we established continuity,” Fernandes says. Adds Schley Johnson, “It’s a testament to Sashya’s design abilities to be able to interpret my aesthetic, even if it’s not completely her style.”
Interior Design: ID8 Design Studio, id8designstudio.com
Contractor: Construction Artisans, constructionartisans.com
Carpentry: Cates Woodworks, cateswoodworks.com
Cabinetry: Cabinet Cures, cabinetcures.com
Custom Upholstery: Modern Hub, modern-hub.com