Designing a kitchen is like playing a game of Tetris – it’s about fitting all of the different pieces together, with the essentials first. When a 30-something couple that worked in the tech world, moved from San Francisco to Maine, to be closer to family, they were a little underwhelmed with the original kitchen that came with their newly purchased home. Having searched through Instagram intensely, they finally fell upon Block Brothers Custom Cabinets, whose work and style matched what they were looking for immediately.
“They were familiar with our body of work so knew that our aesthetics would align well, and so they gave us a lot of creative freedom in the design and put a lot of faith in our team,” said Ben Block, owner of Block Brothers Custom Cabinets. Originally, the kitchen was in a tight space that they later converted into a mudroom, and had an unappealing ’90s vibe about it. “It had off-the-shelf oak cabinets, shiny black, granite, and nothing worth salvaging. To say the least, it didn’t do justice to the house,” he shared.
Ben and his team decided to move the kitchen into what was once the dining room. It had magnificent coffered ceilings and a lot of natural light. But there were two design constraints that they had to work around: a non-working fireplace and windows that were below counter height. ” We ended up destroying and hiding the old fireplace to create room for the range and range surround. Sometimes we look at these elements of old homes as sacred and have to wiggle our way into nooks and crannies when in reality the work around the fireplace was pretty haphazard and likely not original, and honestly just ate up the layout of the room,” Ben explained. In its place, they installed the 48″ Bluestar range and designed an enclosed surround inspired by classic English kitchens.
The real stand out feature of this kitchen, however, is all of the millwork that Block Brothers Custom Cabinets created for this space. The homeowners had asked for a farm-style table as an island, which Ben and his team designed from scratch instead of purchased. “The drawer on the island houses their chef’s knives, and initially they thought the whole top would be a working prep surface, but then they couldn’t bring themselves to damage the top, so we made them a large matching walnut cutting board that fits onto the grill section of the range.,” he said. The hutch, created to give the couple more storage, was also handcrafted by the company. The shaker cabinets painted in Farrow & Ball’s ‘Pigeon Grey’ shows of the simplistic elegance of their design.
The last big decision to complete the kitchen was deciding on the countertops. With budget and functionality in mind, Ben suggested a type of granite called ‘Himalaya White’: “The homeowners have a young daughter and are big cooks, and so didn’t necessarily want marble that could etch and stain over the years.” To match the contemporary look of the kitchen, Ben decided to finish the granite with a matte honed finish with a very subtle arris edge detail. “We’ve used ‘Himalaya White’ in a few kitchens now, and while it does have some of the speckled look of granite, the gray and white give it a softness, and it can sometimes have some very nice graining,” he said.