Kitchen Remodel

By Robert Robillard on Kitchens, Remodeling

Chestnut Hill Kitchen Remodel

Project Summary: Chestnut Hill, MA ~ Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen designer James Forsaith and I have been working together for 28 years. We joined forces again to incorporate a chef-inspired kitchen. We approached this kitchen remodel with the goal [codename for budget] of using stock cabinets but enhancing it with high-end options, stainless steel appliances, white stone and tile, and dark reclaimed wood for the stove hood and shelves.

This multi-disciplined take on this process yielded iconic and very distinctive details textures.  The homeowner wanted a classically designed space that is highly functional.  Using all white cabinets, counters, and wall tile, to enhance light and using dark blue accent island cabinets.

Kitchen Design

So many homeowners we work for want a kitchen designed for cooking – a chef-inspired kitchen!

For a chef-inspired kitchen remodel, the first thing you want to do is think about are the appliances and work surfaces you want most in your kitchen. Many experienced cooks have non-negotiable “must-have” appliances they want in a kitchen.

Our client started by listing her priorities:

  • Sub-Zero industrial refrigerator
  • High capacity wine cooler
  • Wolf 6 burner dual fuel stove
  • 2 Sinks – Main sink and prep sink
  • Extra counter prep space
  • Built-in microwave
  • Drawer organizers to maintain organization and control clutter.

Two nice details I like in this kitchen design are the counter-to-ceiling subway tile, and the reclaimed wood we used From Cambridge’s Long Leaf Lumber in Cambridge MA. The reclaimed lumber was used to accent a custom stove vent cover, and to create the “floating shelves.” Let’s break that down:

Full Wall Subway Tile Backsplash

A tile backsplash serves a practical sanitary purpose by protecting walls from splatters, but they’ve become a popular aesthetic for an eye-catching style that brings together a classic and modern look. White subway tile backsplash has become a popular feature in kitchens and baths.

Our client was attracted to a simplistic design and wanted an easy-to-clean, durable surface that reflected light. She chose a larger-sized, high-gloss, wavy subway tile that showed “movement,” through its wavy design with light gray grout to pick up the same gray vain in the countertops.  The result provided a modern French bistro feel.

Open Shelving Using Reclaimed Wood

Since we’re already doing a full wall backsplash it only makes sense to use an open shelf or “floating-shelf” design so you can appreciate the subway tile backsplash wall.

We purchased black powder-coated floating wall mount countertop brackets, designed to support floating heavy, solid surface materials. The brackets have 4 mounting holes to mount vertically to a wall stud. Once secured, and spaced 16” on-center, each bracket can support approximately 200 lbs.

We chose two reclaimed wood planks for the shelving. These re-purposed, dark-stained, boards are now a focal point in this kitchen. We also used reclaimed ¾” wood along the bottom of the stove hood as an accent strip. All of the reclaimed wood was stained dark to create a sharp, dark, contrast to the white cabinetry, subway tile, and quartz countertops.

Stock Cabinets

We chose Decora cabinets because the client wanted a nice cabinet with a great paint job and lots of color options and design flexibility. I have created many beautiful kitchen remodels over the past 25 years using Decora cabinetry.

The majority of this kitchen design incorporates base cabinets and countertops. There were very few upper cabinets used, and most were placed in the refrigerator area, offering a place for the coffee bar and is near an existing structural beam, that separated the kitchen ceilings.  In the main prep area, our client wanted a more open airy feel.

The island was designed with base cabinets on both sides, this gave the client additional storage and helped create a large island top, for kitchen prep work, and created seating for 5-6 people. Using the back-to-back base cabinet layout also provides plenty of seating space and separation from the preparation /sink side of the island top.

On this project, we had several design challenges, such as building a kitchen that encompasses almost half of the first-floor living space, various pipe chases, exposed structural beams, and obstacles.

Simple Shaker cabinets were selected for this kitchen remodel.  The main perimeter cabinets were painted with Sherwin Williams Extra White with wide matte black staple pulls and the island cabinets were painted in Mount Aetna color with the same wide staple pulls in antique bronze. [dark blue]

Custom Stove Hood

From the Decora pantry unit to the floating shelves is a long run of countertop without any upper cabinets, there are two windows between which the hood would be installed above the 36-inch wolf dual fuel range. The homeowners did not want the focal point of this space to be a stainless hood.  For the custom hood, we decided to custom make it to keep costs down. We ordered a Decora cabinet door panel, some white cabinet side panels, and some crown molding. We then fabricated a hood cover, using the dark reclaimed wood, as a lower accent strip. We topped off the custom cover with a 1-5/8” crown, similar to the adjacent upper cabinets. The warmth of the wood from the floating shelves and the wood trim on the hood provides a custom kitchen look.


Like the woodshop, the kitchen countertop is the workhorse for any avid cook. Our client was striving to strike a balance between the functionality of the cooking surfaces and the overall beauty of the kitchen. We worked in an overhang on two sides of the island to accommodate seating for friends and family to gather.

Our client chose to top off the cabinets and island cabinets with Cosmos Quartz in Calcacatta Sponda color.  Again, a classic look.

High-End Appliances

Many serious chefs want two sinks, and our client was no exception. We designed into our plan two stainless steel sinks to allow prepping and cleaning food, and then a second where to store and clean dishes after use. Each sink has an air switch-controlled garbage disposal

Our client chose a sub-zero refrigerator and covered it with cabinet panels to blend into the cabinetry and her centerpiece, pride-and-joy of this kitchen was the 6-burner Wolf dual fuel oven/stove. The beauty of the range is the gas cooktop but the stable functionality of the electric oven.  She choose to swap out the traditional Wolf red-colored knobs to stainless-colored knobs.

A beverage cooler near the prep sink allows additional beverage storage without our cluttering the main refrigerator and is out of the chef’s way for guests and kids to collect their drinks.  It also can serve as an overflow fridge for cooking prep.

Kitchen Lighting

Lighting was a critical part of our kitchen design. We chose a layered lighting approach to make sure there was visual balance:

LED recessed cans, on multiple switchers, and dimmer controls were placed everywhere to create ambient and overhead illumination. We feel that more light is better, and the dimmers allow you to customize the mood.

LED Task Lighting was installed underneath all of the upper kitchen cabinets, allowing a backlighting look as was as some task lighting.

Island Accent Lighting in the form of three hand-blown glass pendants with vintage Edison bulbs serves more as ambient and decorative and lighting and brings the eye to the island as you enter the room.

Cabinet and Drawer Organization

To upgrade the organization we looked to Rev-A-Shelf for help. Rev-A-Shelf is well-known as an innovator of quality, functional residential cabinet storage and organizational products such as Lazy Susans, kitchen drawer organizers, base cabinet and pantry pull-outs, functional waste containers, LED lighting systems, and childproof locking systems.

We incorporated pullout trash and recycling units, tiered/sliding utensil drawers, tiered cutlery storage, and a bottom-side knife organizer.

The result was a beautiful, functional, and unique French-inspired chef’s kitchen on a budget.

Designer:                                   James Forsaith Koopman Kitchen and Bath Design

General Contractor:             Concord Carpenter LLC

Photographer:                       Dave West, Born Imagery



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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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