Five trends that are really cooking in New England kitchen design
Local interior designers share what’s popular with their clients right now.
As in fashion, styles in home decor are cyclical. Don’t expect to see a resurgence of avocado or harvest gold kitchen appliances anytime soon — or ever — but do expect brass hardware and fixtures to eclipse chrome. Note that today’s brass is unlacquered, not the shiny, polished material of days gone by. Homeowners have been taking a shine to metallics overall. Says Donna Venegas, owner of Venegas and Company in the SoWa district, “The demand for kitchen cabinetry made from brass, blackened stainless steel, or nickel is only getting stronger.” She’s also seeing an inclination toward cabinetry with matte finishes, which she notes is also trending in the automotive industry. When it comes to color, as ever, New Englanders love blue. Here’s a peek at five kitchens that represent the best of recent trends.
“When you think New England, you think blue,” says designer Nikki Dalrymple. Recent clients loved an all-blue kitchen she designed for another family, but when the time came to take the plunge, they opted to just dip their toes in. “If you like color but aren’t ready to commit, painting the island is an easy way to introduce a new hue,” Dalrymple says. For this Wellesley kitchen island, Dalrymple, founder of Wellesley-based Acquire, used a custom blue wash that allows the wood grain to peek through, a look that complements the home’s modern farmhouse feel. The crisp geometric marble tile backsplash keeps the traditional cabinets from seeming stodgy, and the Carrara marble countertop is a luxurious touch. As for the predominant accent color, Dalrymple says, “It’s more classic than trendy.”
Get the look: To keep the design timeless, weave blue throughout the space, using it to anchor a neutral palette.
The white kitchen is here to stay, but all-white schemes are hardly the wave of the future. “Everyone is taking down walls to make kitchens more open,” says Julie Lyons, design manager at Roomscapes Cabinetry and Design Center in Rockland. “Dark cabinets are great for differentiating zones.” In this Hingham kitchen designed by Lyons, the homeowner’s black-and-brass pendant lights informed the dramatic new black-stained coffee bar. Contrasting countertops — white Carrara marble for the coffee bar and espresso-stained wood for the island — intensify the effect. The floor-to-ceiling cabinetry surrounding the coffee bar anchors the space. “We’re definitely doing more dark cabinetry,” Lyons says. “It’s a neutral that works with any color.”
Get the look: If glossy black paint seems too theatrical, experiment with stains. This hand-burnished espresso glaze finish is very soft.
When using metallic elements to add modern interest to a room, the options are more numerous than you may think. “Usually you think of silver metals for a contemporary space, while brass tends to skew traditional,” Boston-based designer Lisa Tharp says. “It’s fun to put a fresh twist on a timeless material.” The main challenge in transforming this Seaport pied-a-terre into an elegant place to entertain was figuring out how to brighten it. “It was a dark, cave-like space,” says Tharp, who incorporated reflective surfaces to bounce light around the room. Floating shelves and a hood, all wrapped in brass, stand out against the pale onyx backdrop like pieces of jewelry. Even in this unapologetically modern application, the brass brings warmth to the stone slab. Not lacquering the brass elements creates “the option of polishing them to gleam or letting them [develop a] patina,” Tharp says.
Get the look: Use a mix of metals to extend a design’s longevity. Here, Tharp chose bar stools with polished-chrome bases.
Moroccan tile is popular with homeowners who favor bohemian and global sensibilities, but it can be a hard sell. “We jumped at the chance to use this distinctive tile” in this Hopkinton home, says Mary Maloney of Bee’s Knees Interior Design Studio in Hopkinton. The Moroccan-patterned Carrara marble tile by StoneImpressions, grounded by a black honed-granite countertop, is the room’s focal point and was the start for the design. Michele LaCamera of Vintage Reclaimed repainted the homeowner’s counter stools using Benjamin Moore Embroidered Flower, a playful shade against the blue-and-white backsplash and the island, which has a white quartzite top on a blue base.
Get the look: If you’re concerned about resale value, consider blue-and-white schemes; Maloney, who used to be in real estate, says they have mass appeal.
RUSTIC WEAR AND TEAR
As “pre-owned” is to “used,” so “rustic” is to “run-down.” The point is to make interiors look well loved, not beaten up. In planning the kitchen in this contemporary Craftsman-style home in Windham, New Hampshire, Heather Alton of New England Design Elements was inspired by newly restored medieval villas in Italy. “They’re rustic shells fitted with sleek, glossy European cabinetry,” she says. “I love that pairing of new and old.” The designer, based in Londonderry, New Hampshire, scoured Craigslist for the salvaged barn wood that became the pantry door. Its weathered appearance suggests it’s been there forever. “Additional nicks and gouges that will come over time will only add to its character,” Alton says. “I think the look appeals to the casual way families live today.”
Get the look: Alton made the window on the pantry door out of a piece of glass she treated with mirror-effect spray paint and then streaked with silver and blue.