At Home on the Atlantic
Interior designer Janice Page brought the ocean view and feel into a Seacoast condominium.
A renovation of this oceanfront condominium not only opened the kitchen to the gorgeous views, it made the room feel much more spacious. The contemporary design used an unusual palette of four cabinet colors.
Their condominium sits very close to the ocean—just fifty feet from the high-tide mark. Except for the occasional storm when it’s a little too close for comfort, Jeannine Barrett and Greg Kaknes enjoy a stunning ocean view, so stunning a grand hotel once occupied the site.
The location was a major reason the couple decided to renovate. “We wanted to make every room take advantage of the view,” Barrett says. Especially the kitchen, where a narrow pass-through originally blocked the view.
And, because Barrett and Kaknes both loved to entertain, they wanted the space—small though it is, just 1,200 square feet—to leave an impression on their guests. “The original space didn’t have a wow factor,” Barrett says, “with the exception of the view.”
The couple enlisted the help of interior and kitchen designer Janice Page, of PKsurroundings in Exeter, who—with associate Rebecca Dillman—created the design that would win the 2017 New Hampshire Home Design Award for Excellence in Interior Design.
The collaboration worked well. Page, the lead designer, found Barrett unafraid of a sleek contemporary look, nor of bold colors and patterns. Barrett, on the other hand, found there was “nothing I didn’t love” about what Page suggested.
Their vision was, as Page puts it, “something fun, fresh, simple and clean” that “brought in the feel of the ocean without it being kitschy.”
Seeing the ocean
The kitchen started as a nine-foot-by-thirteen-foot space that was broken up by an unnecessary window and door on the back wall, and a pull-down stair for an attic bedroom right in the middle of the ceiling.
The first step in the renovation was a complete gut by builder Glenn Farrell, of YFI Custom Homes Inc. in Cape Neddick, Maine. The window and door were removed; the attic stair moved into the living room; the plumbing and electrical, complicated by concrete walls, re-done; and the pass-through widened to maximize the ocean view.
With the now-blank canvas, Page used a contemporary palette of four cabinet colors: a natural rift oak on the lower cabinets; high-gloss white acrylic on the upper cabinets to the right of the sink; gray painted cabinets to the left of the sink; and gray streak laminate around the ovens. “When you have different blocks of materials like that, it can be hard to pull them together without it looking haphazard,” Page says. “It needs to be well thought out.”
Now that the ocean is easier to see with the expanded pass-through, subtle nautical elements were brought in to reflect the water scene—a blue glass backsplash, dramatic driftwood set in a space created above the ovens, and a countertop with bits of sea glass and shells.
Extending the view from the sink is a breakfast bar, custom-made from beech wood by Seymour Woodworking Inc. of Brentwood. The bar curves to accommodate the stools, which have backs with an open, geometric pattern so the line of sight to the ocean isn’t blocked. Above is lighting that echoes that of a ship and, to the side, a ship-like ladder to the attic space, opened and expanded by a balcony above the breakfast bar.
“Standing at the sink now, the view is spectacular,” Barrett says. “I don’t feel like I’m looking through a cubbyhole anymore. It creates a nice visual flow, and it’s great for entertaining.”
Also great for entertaining: the bar that was added in the nearby dining room, replacing a series of built-in closets. Made of high-gloss, cobalt-blue cabinetry with subtle striations, the bar takes the storage of wine glasses a step beyond the usual. To create an uninterrupted seamless look, Page brought the cabinet doors down to cover the stem holders.
The bar’s glass shelving offered a chance to “bring in a bit of whimsy,” as Page says, with a patterned backing that evokes ocean waves. Next to the shelving, tall cabinets provide general storage for the small condo, including a place to hang coats.
White cabinet pulls contrast with the cobalt blue, and tie into the white of the dining-room chairs. The chairs, covered in durable faux leather, are backed with a bold geometric print similar to the chair backs at the breakfast bar. The glass and bright chrome table—custom-made by Dumas Portable Welding and Fabrication in South Berwick, Maine—has an architectural pattern that can be seen beneath the glass. On the vaulted wall behind the table are three tall, high-gloss white tower cabinets that Page says “bring the height of the wall down” and add “visual interest and a sense of reflection.” The cabinets also provide extra storage.
The showpiece of the room, though, is the chandelier. “Its geometric shape has the feel of a sail,” Page says. “And it doesn’t block your eye; you can see straight ahead to the ocean.”
Working with the available space
The nautical theme is evident in the renovated powder room and master bath as well: the color of the vessel sink in the powder room is reminiscent of sea glass; the countertop again has the hint of sea glass and shell; and the backsplash uses a natural linen-like mirror tile.
Accommodating the vanity in the small space (only twenty-one inches wide) was a design challenge. A wall-mounted faucet was the only option. For the vanity, Page says “we put a curved valence on the front to give it more space and visual interest.” The curved cabinet hardware mimics the valence.
Space was also an issue in the master bath. So were the concrete walls that contained the plumbing. After demolition, a wall was moved to provide an additional two feet of space. That allowed for double sinks, a makeup vanity and more storage.
“The cabinetry brings in the feel of shiplap,” Page says. “And the inset hardware is similar to what you see on a ship.” So is the lighting, but with a contemporary feel.
The summer yellow, a match of Farrow & Ball’s India Yellow paint, provides a splash of color, and the frosted-glass panels in the entry door and cabinets have reflective properties that create needed visual depth for the room.
Redesigning the layout of the bathroom allowed for a glassed-in steam shower, which has wave-patterned tile, a strip of the summer yellow cabinet color and a whimsical swath of glass bubbles.
The steam shower is Kaknes’s favorite feature. “The ocean water is cold here,” he says. “If I go for a swim, I can come in and throw the steam on.”
Capitalizing on wow
Both Kaknes and Barrett love everything about the renovation, especially how it emphasizes their amazing ocean view. “The color, the patterns, the glass—they all draw you right through to the view,” Barrett says. “People come in here now and say, ‘Wow, what a cool home.’”
Left: The small master bath was extended by two feet to accommodate a glassed-in steam shower and additional cabinetry, including a makeup vanity.
Right: The nautical theme in the master bath is reflected in the shiplap feel of the bold summer yellow cabinets.