Inspiration > A Kitchen Worth Seeing

April and Mike Mason of Stratham recently finished building their new Seacoast home. At its heart is an elegant yet understated kitchen, with more than enough space for the couple to prepare dinner together while their two young daughters do homework at the large, granite-topped island. Many details were taken into consideration so that the area can be a familial focal point as well as ideal for entertaining.

After interviewing other designers, the Masons found Anita Colby of The Cabinetworks in Stratham. Colby is a certified master kitchen and bath designer— the highest certification someone in her position can achieve.

Colby says the challenge in working with a space as big as this—more than 380 square feet—is to keep the area functional. With two stacked ovens, a Viking® range with a wood-cased hood, two dishwashers, three sink areas, a trash compactor, a warming drawer and a wet bar with a beverage fridge, Colby aimed to make sure that the appliances in each work center were compatible.

For this kitchen, Colby went for a look that’s “classic and timeless rather than trendy.” The Masons have a rare kitchen in that it is both spectacular and comfortable. The white chocolatecolored window and door casings match the cabinetry on the island, where granite shelves are cut into the corner. All the countertops—even at the wet bar and the desktop in the adjoining hall space— are Giallo Vyora granite. Spinning with green, black and brown, and speckled with white, the stone helps bring out the soothing tones in the kitchen and matches the stainless steel.

From the floor up

The most important tone from this kitchen’s calming palette may be on the floor, where Mike and April chose a satin finish—rather than a gloss or semigloss— for their natural quarter-sawn red oak boards. The first floor installer mistakenly laid down a gloss finish, and the Masons brought in Higgins Wood Floors from Rochester to finish the floors correctly. “The satin finish on the floor brings out the grain and the flecking,” Mike says, “instead of a semigloss or gloss, where the wood is reflecting in your eyes.” Benjamin Moore’s Adobe Beige was a natural choice for the painted walls as the color fits the other comforting hues of the kitchen.

Plain and Fancy custom cabinetry was chosen because the look and quality workmanship of their products is in line with the rest of the house. The rich wood tones and crown molding complement the “simple elegance” that Colby created.

Inside or out, private or open

Despite the many amenities and appliances, the kitchen’s most unique attribute is its versatility. The kitchen provides a spectacular view of the back yard, pool area, basketball court and deck overlooking the lovely tree-filled lot. The large custom windows are from Eagle,® owned by Andersen® Windows and Doors, and provide abundant natural light to the kitchen. With all the interior doors open, it’s possible to stand in the kitchen and see much of the first floor. Custom shutters from Exciting Windows in North Hampton—hinged to the walls so they swing away from the windows for easy cleaning—can be closed, sheltering the room from the outside. French doors with frosted glass are next to the wet bar, enabling the Masons to close off the kitchen from the dining room and great room beyond that.

The Masons are passionate about their home. “We both have type-A personalities,” Mike says. They chose Colby, who has worked on a number of other projects in the new home, because she recognizes all that the property has to offer on the interior and the exterior. Of the view from the kitchen, Colby says, “In the summertime, it’s one of the most beautiful yards I’ve ever seen.”

The couple spent at least three hours a day on site during construction because they felt the home was far too detailed to leave up to someone else. They redid the kitchen in their previous home, an experience that expedited the process this time around, especially when it came to choosing appliances. What they With help from designer Anita Colby, and many others such as builder Tim Russell, the Masons’ passion and focus resulted in a kitchen that is intricate without compromising functionality.

To fully appreciate the space, linger in the room. In the same way the floor’s appeal is heightened by its subtlety, the kitchen’s beauty comes from its sleek, yet unassuming, décor. The classic whites, and earthy browns, tans and beiges are all the more pleasing after soaking up the view of the back yard. Visitors are wise to relax and spend some time in this kitchen, for even the stools along the island are comfortable enough to pass an entire evening in.

Kitchens Galore!

April and Mike Mason’s kitchen is one of ten featured in the ninth annual Exeter Area Kitchen Tour on Saturday, May 10. The tour is selfguided, and is a fantastic showcase of work done by businesses in the community.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 day off, and are available at The Cabinetworks in Stratham, Dovetailed Kitchens in Portsmouth, Eno Building Supplies and Design Center in Hampton, W.S. Goodrich in Epping and the Exeter Area Chamber of Commerce in Exeter. Proceeds from the tour benefit the chamber’s projects and programs for the community.

Exeter Area Chamber of Commerce
120 Water Street Exeter, NH 03833 772-2411,