How to create a welcoming and family-friendly kitchen

A first floor renovation and addition in Exeter yielded several inviting spaces, including a light-filled kitchen , an orderly mudroom and a charming front room complete with custom built-ins and a cozy window seat.

Creating spirit of place—a charming and comfortable space that enhances the daily lives of its owners—is the goal of interior designer Jenn Sanborn, ASID, owner of Sacris Design in Amesbury, Massachusetts. 

So when Exeter residents Mary Beth Connolly and Joe Mikulsky decided to embark on a first-floor renovation of their historic home, they turned to Sanborn for help in creating a beautiful and hardworking kitchen that supports their family’s active lifestyle.

From the onset, Sanborn focused on the layout of the newly designed spaces. “It’s all about connections,” she explains. “I begin each project thinking about the logical flow of daily life and how the owners will move through the spaces.” The decision to move the kitchen from its cramped location in the main house to a newly built addition between the house and garage was one of the most effective changes. This relocation provides plenty of natural light, direct access and views to the back yard, and a great space for entertaining.

The new addition also includes the home’s primary entrance; a mudroom with built-in cubbies to keep the homeowners’ busy lives organized; a custom banquette dining area for family dinners; and an expansive kitchen with two refrigerators, a central island and plenty of storage.

The kitchen’s custom wood bead-board ceiling is a major feature. Sanborn and Mikulsky worked to determine how the new addition would integrate with the existing structures, but it was Mikulsky, diligently serving as the renovation’s general contractor, who designed and installed the unique roof and ceiling (a combination of a steep center pitch and gentler sloped front and back).

Other charming details include cottage-style windows with custom window treatments, dramatic decorative lighting, custom stained-glass cabinetry doors and coordinating stained-glass mosaic accent tile. Durable blue-gray Azul Aran granite from Spain coordinates with the warm-white-glazed Cabico perimeter cabinetry and dark espresso island. 

“All the features are carefully crafted to work together as a whole,” Sanborn says. Connolly adds, “I think what makes our kitchen uniquely ours are its wonderful details.”

What makes this kitchen fabulous

  • Custom cabinetry by Cabico Custom Cabinetry
  • Patrick McAuliffe of B&G Cabinet, LLC in Newburyport, Massachusetts, assisted with the cabinetry design
    (978) 465-6455
  • Decorative lighting fixtures by Visual Comfort & Co. from Circa Lighting
    (877) 762-2323
  • Windsor side chairs by D. R. Dimes & Company, Ltd.
  • Zigzag wool runner, jute area rug and throws from American Traditions, Inc. in Hampton Falls
  • Wall tile from Portico Fine Tile in Greenland
  • Artwork, bench cushions, window treatments, pillows and upholstery are custom through Sacris Design
    (978) 388-5948

The new kitchen design reflects the family’s activities and needs. The dark espresso central island, Cabico cabinetry and two refrigerators provide the tools and the space for entertaining, baking and completing school projects.