Custom Kitchen

Four Experts Discuss Designing a Kitchen That’s Right for You.

Text by Lisa Cavanaugh

What is more fundamental than making and sharing a meal? The question posed by Paul Reidt, partner at Kochman, Reidt & Haigh Cabinetmakers may lead to memories of dinner parties, shared cups of tea or family holidays, and most likely, many of these scenes occur in the busy, heart of the home—the kitchen. ”Kitchens are the most fascinating room in the house,” says Reidt. “It’s where all the important conversations transpire, where social networks are forged and where kids experience from their parents the way the world works.”

Still, each family is different, which is why designers have to listen to their clients at the beginning of a kitchen redesign. They want to know how their client will use the space—do they entertain often? Will kids share snacks there every afternoon? Are they adventurous chefs or busy bakers? Kitchen customization is buzzing around the home world and four local designers talk to us about what’s trending.

Home Chef Heaven

Photograph by Glen Perry

Sub-Zero has perfected refrigeration,” says Colleen Lord of Scandia Kitchens. “Their products are a big investment but worth it for serious home chefs.” Lord also points out the versatility of Wolf convection steam ovens, which many of her busy clients love because they can do everything a microwave can do but so much better.

For Lord the most important thing about kitchen design is function. “We do the layout first and then bring in the style,” she says. “Clients might want specific drawers or cabinets to fit the Kitchen Aid mixer or to hide a coffee maker, and we make sure there is a place for everything.”

Flow & Function

Kathy Marshall comes from a long line of kitchen cabinetry designers, and she opened her own firm, Kathy Marshall Designs, twelve years ago. “I have an organic approach to design. Many of my clients live in urban settings, so you want to make a space that will be super functional for cooking, but also exude their style,” she says. Marshall focuses on getting to know the family and how they like to be in their home. “I’m here to help clients make really good choices for their kitchens.”

If a client is looking to host several dinner parties throughout the year, Marshall not only thinks about design, but about specific products, too. “I’ll send them to Clarke’s new Boston showroom at 7 Tide and suggest they look at the Asko dishwasher with adjustable racks,” says Marshall. “They can easily fit a big pot in there after a family lobster bake.”

Marshall wants her clients to cook, relax, celebrate and do whatever needs to get done in the hub of the home. “I like to say the good, the bad and the ugly all go down in the kitchen.”

Balance & Symmetry

Faneuil Kitchen Cabinet designer Emily Levitt strives to create kitchens that reflect the tastes and needs of the people that will live in them. “We offer custom designs while still incorporating standards of balance and symmetry,” says Levitt, who finds Sub-Zero refrigerators work extremely well within cabinetry. “Breaking up refrigeration allows options in widths and custom finishes,” Levitt says. “Columns can be separated by beautiful cabinetry and small units can be fitted wherever you need cold storage, like at a beverage center or under the island.”

Beyond Food

“I spend a lot time discovering the client’s aesthetic, their patterns of work and their family dynamic,” Reidt says. He notes that kitchens have absorbed functions from living or family rooms and now need to support activities besides food preparation. “Friends visit, children do homework, people check email while their spouse is cooking.”

Reidt does about 20 kitchens a year and each one is unique. But what they all have in common is they are the most likely place for everyone to congregate, which, in the end, is the most important thing of all.


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