Avant-Gardenist 6:00am, 14 December 2009

A Nautical New England Kitchen

An earthy brown and white palette keeps this Nantucket kitchen grounded, while a vaulted wooden ceiling conjures up the island's seafaring history.

Designed by Sandi Holland + Ray Pohl
Written by Christine Pittel
Photographed by Gridley + Graves
Published by House Beautiful

Sandi Holland / Gridley + Graves / House Beautiful

The backsplash tiles, handcrafted in Mexico, have some variation in the surface, which suits an older house. 14" Holophane lights in Statuary Bronze from Ann-Morris Antiques. Vintage pond yachts were collected by the owner.

Sandi Holland / Gridley + Graves / House Beautiful

Navajo White paint on the walls has a hint of brown in it, which relates to the Tudor Brown on the cabinets; both paints by Benjamin Moore. Brass hardware, from Nantucket Housefitters, seemed appropriate for a boating family. 48" Dual Fuel Viking range. Provenance Woven Woods Rustica shades from Hunter Douglas. Nantucket baskets from Four Winds Craft Guild.

Sandi Holland / Gridley + Graves / House Beautiful

Elkay's Gourmet sink with Ashford faucet in Satin Nickel by Grohe. The hand-painted wallcovering in the breakfast room is by Kevin Paulsen.

CHRISTINE PITTEL: This kitchen seems as plain and simple as one of those old Nantucket baskets on the shelves.

SANDI HOLLAND: That's the essence of Nantucket — simplicity. This is an old house, renovated by the architect Ray Pohl, and I wanted to see the architecture without a lot of accessories getting in the way. The baskets are made of oak staves, very tightly woven and unusually strong. They just get better with age. Sailors used to make them to occupy their time when they were out on the Nantucket lightships, which were like floating lighthouses.

The curve of the wooden ceiling makes me feel like I'm on a ship. How did you get that height in an old house?

RAY POHL: We got rid of a rabbit warren of bedrooms on the second floor, which the clients didn't need. Parts of the house date back to the early 1800s and the ceilings are low. We wanted some relief, so we put in a cathedral ceiling, faced in V-groove, which is a variation on beadboard but with a simpler cut. Wood walls are a long-standing Nantucket tradition. You don't want drywall in all this humidity — it soaks up moisture and gets moldy. Imagine taking a rowboat and laying it upside down, and you're inside looking up at the hull. That's what this room feels like. The catwalk links the master bedroom wing with the rest of the second floor. It's nice, when you've got a space like this, to be able to look down on it.

I like the play of light and dark.

SH: Everything above the countertop is light and everything below is dark. The cabinetry has that quiet Quaker austerity. But the dark color is brown, not black, which means it's still warm. We needed that dense chocolate brown to ground the room and balance the vaulted ceiling.

What's on the countertops?

RP: Calacatta Gold marble, which has the most beautiful veining. We wanted something glorious because there's so much countertop. The run of cabinets under the window is a place for phone books and keys and recipe files. If you don't allow for that desk function in a kitchen, it will just happen where you don't want it.

SH: It's a place to put down the groceries or arrange the flowers, and it's a great staging area when they have a big party.

Counter space is definitely not a problem. The island is also huge.

SH: I'm a great believer in big islands. To have that large surface with lots of storage underneath is fantastic. You can have three or four things going on at once. The mistake people often make is putting the island and the counters too far apart. All you need is room for two people to pass.

RP: This kitchen is the hub of the house. There are doors on three sides and you want to create an easy flow. The island is the resting spot in the middle. Half of it is devoted to seating, and the working part of the kitchen is all on the other half, where you have the classic triangle of stove, sink, and refrigerator.

That sink looks deep enough for a lobster pot.

RP: Ten inches, and then you get an extra inch or two because it's undermounted. I prefer stainless-steel sinks to porcelain because they're more forgiving. If you drop a heavy pot, it can hit the porcelain and chip it. But stainless steel kind of bounces back.

I notice you have blinds at the windows. No curtains.

SH: We didn't want a lot of fabric. Why mask the view? The woven-wood blinds are clean yet warm, because they have some texture to them. This is one of my favorite Nantucket kitchens. It has all the charm of an old house and all the light of a new house.

Laura Lea PRO 7 years ago
I love white walls with dark elements! I love the contrast. I hadn't seen this style before. It is intriguing. Thanks for sharing! We hope to one day redo our kitchen and I'm hoping to show this to my husband. Lots of storage, light and airy feel... but still earthy!
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