William Gregory, an interior architect and designer, believes that every room tells a story. What is the narrative behind the kitchen he designed in his own home? The celebration of food, family, and functionality. “A kitchen is about preparing food and bringing people together, once, maybe twice a day if you’re lucky,” he says. “It’s a living workroom.”
Gregory, who lives in a post-and-beam home just outside Concord Center with his wife, Sacha, daughters Ella, 16, and Anna, 13, and cat Bentley, recently completed an addition on the back of their home that embodies modern family life. There’s the roomy kitchen with center island, a dining area that seats 10, a built-in wet bar, a family desk, a sitting area, a dreamy pantry, and easy access to the backyard. Gregory even specified a concealed charging station because cooking and eating are together time — no devices allowed.
Just as much attention to detail went into the kitchen’s aesthetics. Gregory drew inspiration from 19th-century Belgian and Scandinavian rural homes. He researched every aspect, from the exposed ceiling beams to the cabinet and hardware style, to the color and materials palette. “Simplicity,” “utility,” and “authenticity” were his buzzwords. “We wanted to stay humble by using highly functional natural materials,” he says. “Things don’t need to be fancy in order to be good.”
Craftsmanship was key. Along with all the cabinetry and millwork, Gregory designed the furnishings — dining table, bench, chairs, stools — all made by an artisan from the North Bennet Street School using rift-sawn white oak. The pieces have an unassuming matte finish that matches the white oak floor. He designed the center island to look and feel like furniture. The piece is topped with nearly 13-foot-long wooden planks that he hand selected at Berkshire Products in Sheffield, then sealed with a marine-grade matte varnish for longevity.
The kitchen is warm and bright with a serene scheme of delicate whites and tranquil grays. The windows reach down to the white Danby marble countertops, which help reflect sunlight. “One might argue that marble is not humble,” Gregory says. “But like oak, it’s a very hard-wearing, native material.” Pewter pulls from Belgium are hand-forged and the porcelain farm sink, which Gregory preserved from their original kitchen, ties to the trio of glazed ceramic pendants over the island.
The new dining area is tucked around the corner, in the space that used to be the kitchen. Three large panels of chicken-wire glass framed in white oak let light through to front of the house and provide a country-style backdrop for Gregory’s white oak designs. The bench has a Shaker-meets-Scandi vibe while the dining table and chairs are a sleek interpretation of New England farmhouse furnishings. Gregory also designed the linear light fixture over the table, meant to evoke a paper lantern.
While the decorative lighting and the beeswax candles the family uses for every meal provide ambiance, all-over illumination in the kitchen was essential. Veering from his distinctly low-tech aesthetic, Gregory incorporated minimalist lights along the sides of the ceiling beams throughout the addition. Channeling the wires into the wood was a feat, but Gregory is pleased with both the performance and appearance. “They create a nice tension with the rustic elements,” he says. “It’s subtle, and subtlety is what I love.”
Interior architect and designer: Wm Gregory & Associates, wmgregory.com
Contractor: G. Donahue & Sons, Lunenburg; 978-582-7165
Millwork: Kochman Reidt + Haigh Cabinetmakers, cabinetmakers.com
Cabinetry: Crown Point Cabinetry, crown-point.com
Stone: Forever Tile, forevertile.net
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Marni Elyse Katz is a frequent contributor to Globe Magazine. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.