Make it work: One home’s kitchen is another home’s…kitchen

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Photo: Stephen Barling Photo: Stephen Barling

Talk about seizing the day. When Anna Boeschenstein found out that a practically new kitchen was slated to be removed from a home in Farmington, she realized she was looking at a golden opportunity. The place had served as the 2014 Design House—a fundraiser for the Shelter for Help in Emergency, in which many local designers collaborate to renovate a house—and Boeschenstein herself, owner of the firm Grounded, had contributed landscape architecture work to the project.

Now, however, the fundraiser was over and the house’s owner was planning to redo the kitchen. Designed by Heidi Brooks Interior Design, the kitchen seemed to Boeschenstein like it could fit into the Esmont house she shares with her husband, Jesse Bejar, and their two children. And the entire room was available—cabinets, appliances, counters, even light fixtures and hardware.

Each of the elements from the Farmington home—the walnut-topped central island, the brass pendant lights, the display and storage cabinet—were fitted for their new Esmont residence, down to the 16th of an inch. Photo: Stephen Barling

The couple’s own home was ripe for a kitchen reno. The Colonial-style house was originally built in 1996 by New England expats to mimic the feel of homes in their native region. Boeschenstein and Bejar bought it in 2011 because they loved the site, which has room for horses and kids alike. They’d managed just fine with the existing kitchen, but it was showing its age and left a lot to be desired in terms of sociability.

“There was a very high peninsula,” says Boeschenstein, showing where a tall bar used to demarcate the kitchen work zone. With its galley layout, it occupied a small portion of what is actually a large room, needlessly creating traffic jams between the counters.

“We wanted to make it more user-friendly and social,” says Bejar, who loves to cook and often found himself peering over that high bar at his guests while he put together dinners. The Farmington kitchen would allow them to completely redraw the room’s layout, making the work area more integrated and central.

“We measured each piece down to the 16th of an inch,” says Boeschenstein. Once they knew the sizes of all the components, she used AutoCAD to determine how existing cabinets—custom-built by Albion Cabinets for a different house—could be transplanted into her home.

The solution involved three new windows, some changes to plumbing and several modifications to the cabinetry. For example, the refrigerator and ovens moved to the other end of the layout, leaving space for a doorway into the adjacent dining room.

Builders Barry Burkett and Jonathan Reed carefully removed all components and created new elements to seamlessly blend in where needed. In one spot, the counter would grow deeper, and they built a new wine rack to fill in the gap behind the existing shallow cabinet.

Photo: Stephen Barling

Still, the kitchen hews very closely to its original incarnation. A walnut-topped central island contrasts with white marble countertops around the perimeter. Shaker-style cabinets hold numerous drawers and a narrow pull-out pantry rack. A large display cabinet shows off china on open shelves, but also beefs up storage capacity behind solid doors.

As for the dark gray color of the cabinetry, it was originally slated to change when the cabinets left Farmington. “We thought about refinishing,” says Boeschenstein. But as they tried out numerous other color ideas, “We kept coming back around to this.” All cabinets got a fresh coat of paint, but in the old dark gray.

New red oak flooring, replacing the old kitchen’s tile floor, was toothed in to match what was already in the dining room. Another change was more subtle: lowering the kitchen ceiling two inches, and tweaking the crown molding design, to accommodate the height of the cabinetry. The doorway to the dining room also shifted so that it could align with the central island and the large window on the house’s rear wall.

Photo: Stephen Barling

Even the lighting fixtures—brass pendants, a sconce and a dining room chandelier—were moved from Farmington. Boeschenstein used what she had to furnish the space: A circular table and Hans Wegner chairs, rescued from a Habitat store in Aspen, Colorado, some years ago, provide a place to sit and eat, and the metal barstools previously served as nightstands in an upstairs bedroom.

The family completed the transformation this past summer. Since the new space has been finished, says Bejar, “I’ve been cooking nonstop.”

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