Cool Modern Kitchen Remodel in Holliston

We are often asked to remove walls to help with the open concept many people are after today. This is a project that benefitted in so many ways by doing this; I am really very excited to share it with you. When I met the Owners, they were more than tired of being greeted by the refrigerator that was imposing a space constraint on the kitchen; as well as standing guard to ensure no one could see past it to the family room. The couple was hopeful there would be a solution to keep a fair amount of storage space and improve the work space, they just couldn’t see beyond the paradigm of the bearing wall.  

The requests by the Owners were that they wanted a clean modern kitchen that would still feel warm and relaxing because they wanted to open it up to the family room. The Mr. also loves to cook from scratch, and wanted a kitchen that worked hard without a big mess being part of the family room.

The Challenges were:  1.How open could the space be with the structural challenges? 2. Where would everything go and still have a good working environment when the wall was gone?  3. How could we make the space feel part of the living environment and satisfy the Owners professional level cooking style?

We started with the wall, and because of the load we needed a piece of steel that was wider than the wall itself, and we wanted the opening to be as tall as possible. This posed a bit of a dilemma because it is a pet peeve of mine not to have an obvious statement in a design that says “a wall was removed here”.  Alexandra came up with a great idea to build out the trim as wide as the beam on the walls, and this created a fantastic frame for the kitchen from the family room; a beautiful modern definition statement without any blockage of the space.

Early in the planning stage we showed the owner a few locations in concept form for placing the refrigerator. We decided to tuck it in to the corner where ingredients could be accessed easily from the work space and not be a bulky part of the view in. Refrigerators are usually best off to the side because they act as architectural anchor (good and bad). Additionally, we moved all of the storage for dry goods to the wall opposite the sink.

As for the solution to bridge the cooking and relaxing spaces, we started with a few iterations of typical ways to mask the mess on the prep counter, and when a waterfall edge came up in the discussion- we pushed the idea of this stunning high top counter that encompasses the cook and draws the eye to a spectacular furniture like piece of contemporary art and craftsmanship.

Before Images (click on images to enlarge):

After Images(click on images to enlarge):


Kitchen Cabinetry Trends

Trends in cabinetry are as important as fashion trends, and present in every part of home and décor. The main difference other than the obvious… you don’t wear cabinets… is that we seek long term trends for these capital improvements so that we have a longer period of enjoyment for our investment. A recent report from our Custom Line, Plato Woodwork, shows that nationally white still represents over 50% of selected finishes. Plato is the oldest cabinet manufacturer in the US and offers products from a semi-custom line through a fully custom shop making them a great source for the direction of the industry.

One of the longest running trends has been the white kitchen with the wood island. This white cabinetry is most prevalent in the North East. About 75% of our kitchen installs are some version that includes white, and that is pretty significant considering all the wood species available as well as other colors. This trend of white started out with baby boomers like me, waxing poetic about “mom’s” kitchen and the nostalgic feeling it provided. Kitchens were white in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s because they were often built in place and often painted to match the trim. White is also very classic and bright which makes people gravitate toward what feels like it will last.

Before you give up on breaking the trend, it is important to note that any defined architectural style doesn’t lose it beauty or timelessness when it is designed well. There will be times when contemporary is in more favor than traditional, it is usually the finishes that were poorly selected that may look dated, like the wallpaper or fixtures… or avocado appliances :)

Here are a couple of kitchens that may make you think about what color is for you.

Inset Kitchen Remodel in Wellesley

White Shaker Cabinets in Wellesley Kitchen Remodel


The Argument for Open Dining Rooms

I get less and less push back when I suggest opening kitchens to the dining room than I used to.  I also get more requests to take that barrier down because of the open concepts that many people want for today’s lifestyle.  As popular as open concept living has become, there are still many sceptics out there- you know who you are… so I put the top 3 objections down that people use to deny the need for open dining.  If you have a home with ample room to keep a separate formal living space- and you know you will use it, you are not the focus of this week’s blog.

One of the first objections I hear when people do not want to consider this is, “it will hurt re-sale value”. That couldn’t be farther from the truth (insert caveat) if you plan an open concept that allows the dining table to work for family meal time, and give the furniture a defined area that looks just as purposeful when the long candlesticks are glowing with ambiance. In a good design, the definition of space tells everyone- “this is where we will dine”.   And if you were selling your home today, wouldn’t you want the open plan that everyone else wants?

Another reason people tell me this will not work for them is because it is “trendy”.  If you read my blog, you know there is a difference between trendy and trends… and this is a long term trend, just like stainless appliances that were supposed to go away 15 years ago, and open kitchens that were surely a bad idea… I mean, who will really want to hang out in the kitchen, RIGHT? Open dining is just another part of casual living, which is a result of our busy lives blending with our desire to make being together as simple as possible.   When we entertain, even our friends love being part of the entire food experience.

The other (and third most common) objection I hear is that the open concept is a contemporary idea, and will not work with a traditional style.  Lately, we have done a few very beautiful contemporary kitchens, and our prospective clients have used this as ammunition against us to prove it is only for modern kitchens! :)  So we went and photographed this traditional Wellesley kitchen yesterday…. And look at how easy it is going to be for that traditional Thanksgiving Day feast, and to put some of the food on the counter in the dining room.  That counter can also work if you have the entire lacrosse team over for breakfast and need a spot for overflow muffins.  You also have a well-designed space that is easy to sit at and enjoy some family time with the open concept living you really wanted.

Please take a look at our portfolio, and see the traditional and modern kitchens that have open dining!

Open Floor Plans

Open floor plans are certainly a concept that has been a strong trend with our modern lifestyles. This is brought on by many factors such as cocooning and the desire to be in the same space with our children for whatever time they have when they are home. This type of living is great for our busy lifestyles and should come with a few considerations before jumping full steam ahead and knocking down all the walls in your home.

Before– the kitchen was separated and cut off from the family room and dining room

After: The new openings join the kitchen with the dining room and family room allowing for converation and gathering.

One of the biggest benefits of an open floor plan is improving the flow of the house. This is an important distinction between open space and making the plan work well. What I mean is, that if you had a ballroom, certainly you could walk wherever you want- but you would not have a cozy corner for conversation, or a kitchen area that served the cook and those gathering. A home has very different spaces that serve different needs and tasks, so moving from place to place should be effortless while each space maintains its unique feel and use.

In addition to ergonomics, think about your lifestyle. Most folks in their 20’s would be happy with a compact loft that is open- but when our home has people of different ages and individual needs- you will want more space and want to tweak that open floor plan. A table makes a great bridge or transition in this lay-out- so if you want wide open, place the table between the kitchen and soft seating area. If you would like more definition of space and/or the kids to do homework at the table away from the TV- use the table in a space off to the side of the space.

Either way, open is here for a while! Here is a recent Wellesley kitchen we completed that was so different when the wall came down that it felt unnatural for me to walk from one space to the other today.

Home Renovations Should Do More Than Appear to Appeal

The cost of a home, it’s what doesn’t meet the eye.

Flipping property seems to be the new TV hit in home shows.  I was eager to talk to an appraiser to get some information about where the shift in value is from Home A to Home B at a recent professional event.  I had a vague understanding of what appraisers do because of the real estate transactions I have had, but there were two words that I heard in my discussion with an appraiser that were very informative… and disappointing.  The words were: appears and appeal.

I know that not all expense on remodeling can be fully appreciated (dollar-wise) upon completion.  I also know that if an unscrupulous developer wants to slap up a Band-Aid, that an unsuspecting buyer may only see “granite counters”.  My frustration is that the words “appears” and “appeal” are inherent in what’s wrong with the way our society and economy view a home’s value.  If the best and worst case scenarios require a lifetime of maintenance costs, on similar size homes, that could range from $50k to $300k.  Shouldn’t we know that in the value of the property?  If a kitchen that will get five years of use before needing to be replaced has the same “appraisal” value as one that will provide 20 years of good service, shouldn’t the home change in value (plus the cost of interest over time)?

With automobiles, this is easier to get our arms around.  We learn early on that some brands have better service history; maintenance costs are readily available, and luxury is easier to see when we compare it by brand.  With real estate, there is the value of the location, lot size and living space… but the minute the cost or quality of goods added inside, compounded by the quality of installation or building science get introduced, a consumer is much less prepared.

Without throwing the entire appraisal community under the bus, it is evident that a home that has an older kitchen with a quick make-over that gives it more appeal can have a value similar to a newer, better constructed kitchen that has less appeal… if they both “appear” to be recently done!  One of my personal pet peeves is the quality of goods on new homes.  I have seen some large and expensive new homes with sub-par wood siding – then slap a coat of solid stain on it and see failing siding in less than a decade.  Yes, you can buy red cedar clapboards from $.70 to over $2 per lineal foot, and the appraisal will “appear” new, with workmanship-like install, and “appeal” to people because they’re unaware of the difference between finger jointed clapboards and CVG clapboards.  I have one client who actually had to re-side their expensive and newly constructed home when it was only 6 years old… shouldn’t that change the value?

The moral of the story, I guess, is to look beyond the appeal before diving in – and think about the reputation and history of the builder as one of the value propositions, before you end up with remodeling projects you didn’t anticipate.