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Your Home | Kitchens & Baths

Redesigning a condo kitchen so it feels new, but still you

Shelves that hang from the ceiling create an airy feel in this Charlestown home, and help keep the budget in check.

Homeowner Julie Canniff inherited the painting of a Scituate marsh from her parents. The streamlined black and aged brass chandelier by Mitzi is a modern touch, as are the oak dining chairs from Lekker Home. sean litchfield

Julie Canniff knew when she bought her Charlestown condo that the kitchen wall needed to come down. “Nothing had been done in years and the kitchen was particularly grim,” says the homeowner, who moved from the Navy Yard. “The wall had a square window to the living room with this horrible little ledge.”

Canniff hired Boston-based designer Laura Keeler Pierce to revamp her new home. The project included designing a new kitchen that would open to the living space, creating a built-in eating area, and implementing a fresh look that would incorporate the homeowner’s lifetime worth of treasures. “We wanted to contemporize, brighten, and add a little edge in a way that complemented her collections,” Pierce says. “The pieces are an important part of her story, but we didn’t want them to define the design.”


The kitchen wall was replaced with a peninsula, which was painted in Farrow & Ball Down Pipe — along with the back wall of cabinetry — and topped with an expanse of quartz. Since counter space was the priority, they kept the farm sink small. Pierce designed shelves that hang from the ceiling and are made using ash boards and blackened steel — a budget-friendly alternative to the brass frame she and her client had originally discussed.

The ceramic tile backsplash maintains a monochromatic palette that enhances Canniff’s traditional rugs, while the glossy finish counterbalances the dark hue by reflecting light — which there is plenty of, thanks to windows that overlook the Zakim Bridge. “The gray grounds this side of the space but lets the view be the star of the show,” Pierce explains.

Canniff brought the owl print and garden stool from her prior home.sean litchfield

A corner banquette is painted the same deep gray as the cabinetry, so that it reads as an extension of the kitchen. The banquette also helps maximize floor space and provides additional storage underneath the seats. Pierce designed it around the dining table — at which Canniff raised her children — and had the table refinished with a black lacquered top. “The gray carries through to the living space, as do the black punctuation points,” Pierce says.


Citron colored pillows complement the fresh greens in the paintings and leafy treetops outdoors, brass accents play off the gold frames, and the natural fibers of the seating echo the refinished pale wood floors. “It was a game of back and forth between traditional and contemporary,” the designer says.

Canniff appreciates how Pierce highlighted her long-loved pieces and marvels at how everything in her new kitchen functions. “The design is so well thought out I never feel that I need more space,” she says. “And it really is the heart of the home.”

The graceful gooseneck faucet by Kallista provides a clean pop of brass on the countertop. The backsplash tiles are Arcilla by Ann Sacks and the stools, which have open weave rattan seats, are by Palecek. sean litchfield


Interior design: Keeler & Co. Design, keelerandco.com

Contractor: Supreme Construction Services, Woburn; 781-535-2850

Cabinets: Walpole Cabinetry, walpolecabinets.com

Metalwork: Fishbone Metal Works, fishbonemetalworks.com

Drapery and pillows: Makkas Drapery Workroom, makkasdrapery.com

Table refinishing: JW Studios, Shirley; 617-967-5276


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Marni Elyse Katz is a frequent contributor to the Globe Magazine. Send comments to magazine@globe.com