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Despite being an interior designer, Suzanne McGrath wasn’t sure the plans she drew up for her kitchen remodel were up to snuff. So she reached out to designer Sarah Robertson for advice. “She had done the layout and assumed I would come in and say, ‘OK, this looks good.’ But I came in and said, ‘We can change this and we can change that.’ I showed her what I thought would work.”
Robertson’s ideas were eye-opening, particularly the one to fill in a doorway beneath the stairs to create a back wall on which she could center the range and gain more counter space. McGrath hired Robertson to gut and revamp the entire space, which heavily features Robertson’s greatest strength: her attention to storage.
Custom cabinets hold every kind of pullout and divider you can think of, including a recessed paper towel holder, a mixer shelf, a spice drawer, a custom knife block drawer and slots for baking sheets.
Cabinets: Schrocks of Walnut Creek; cabinet paint: Chantilly Lace (perimeter) and Pelican Gray (island), both Benjamin Moore; countertops: Caesarstone (perimeter) and Carrara marble (island)
BEFORE: Here you can see how the back wall previously lacked counter space due to a doorway (not shown) to the left of the refrigerator that crammed the appliances together.
AFTER: Filling in the doorway allowed Robertson to move the fridge to the other side of the room and create better function on the back wall. Robertson had McGrath walk through an imaginary dinner to make sure the layout was just right. “You imagine you’re cutting tomatoes, so you walk to get a knife and walk to the fridge,” Robertson says. “That way all the spots are the right spots. The whole goal is we nail it the first time.”
Light blue subway tiles provide a bit of color and lend a slight coastal look to the space, which works well for the 1920s Colonial-style home which sits close to the water. Hits of stainless steel bring in a more modern style as well. “It could be interpreted either way — modern or traditional. That’s what I like about it,” she says.
Oak floors match the rest of the house.
Backsplash tile: Elements collection, Ann Sacks
A wide spice drawer to the left of the range organizes jars. “You can read the labels and don’t have to reach for ones high up,” Robertson says. “It’s a great setup right by a range. When I redo my own kitchen, I’m going to put in two.”
The pullout for baking sheets has what looks like a cabinet front to help break up the drawers on that wall of cabinetry.
Robertson says she adds a paper towel holder to about 90 percent of her projects. “It’s very much part of my repertoire,” she says.
A wine rack helps finish off the run of cabinetry while keeping a doorway to a breakfast area free and clear.
Cabinet hardware: Top Knobs
A small and rather unassuming marble-topped island hides tons of storage and function.
On the left, a drawer opens to reveal a custom built-in knife block. Below, a stainless steel-lined drawer box stores dry food like potatoes and bread.
The vertical slot in the middle holds two custom walnut cutting boards that can be pulled out using a leather handle and placed on the countertop.
To the right, a swing-out shelf brings a mixer to countertop height when needed. Robertson faked the cabinet front to look like three drawers.
“It’s really a hardworking piece of furniture,” Robertson says of the island.
A tall wall of cabinets symmetrically surrounds a microwave near the fridge and conceals smart storage solutions.
Pullout drawers make easy work of grabbing pantry items, while slots corral more baking sheets and large serving platters.
The cabinet below the sink reveals more pullouts. “I don’t like to just give people a vast cavern where they can shove things,” Robertson says.
The doorway to the left leads to a sunny breakfast nook.
Pendant lights: Remains Lighting
This plan shows the new layout and cabinetry.
Countertops: Rye Marble
Construction: Classic Construction Group
Interior design: McGrath II