Before I got distracted with kids’ birthday cakes, Ben presented us with a revised kitchen plan! Reimagined without faux posts and beams, the room now incorporates solid upper cabinets on the western wall, as well as the open shelving I wanted. Losing the supports allows us to mount three 9-inch-diameter pendants over our 7 ¼-foot-long island — the right amount of light for the space, say the folks at Portland’s Fogg Lighting. (Previously, we had two fixtures dangling from the beams.) And now that we have cupboards on more than one wall, we plan to install under-cabinet lighting, something Mark and I always envisioned having in our “grown-up house.”
Of course, I couldn’t simply accept the new plan without some trademark over-thinking. Now that our shelving is no longer natural wood, I wondered, should we consider gray woodwork or a gray tile backsplash to avoid the potential monotony of white dishes on white shelves on a white backdrop? Once again, I hounded designer Vanessa Helmick. “Stick to your instincts about the white — the grout will be contrast enough,” she said, referring to the dark-gray mortar we intend to use with white subway tile from Morningstar Stone and Tile in Topsham. What about the inherent impracticality of white cabinetry? I texted my friend Petra in New Jersey, who has three kids under age 7 and whose white kitchen always looks gleaming in Instagram posts. “I regret many choices we made when building this house, but white cabinets are not one of them,” she replied. “The paint is easy to wipe clean.”
I’m sure they’re right. And, anyway, who am I kidding? In my world, there’s no such thing as too much white. The medium-gray island and hickory tabletop we’re doing will provide counterpoints and smoky, lightly speckled Himalaya White granite counters from Morningstar — more practical than the marble I covet and more affordable than my other favorite, quartzite — will create subtle interest.
The two little boys who share our kitchen will also lend plenty of energy. “Kitchens are activity centers and feel busy because of the activity,” notes Helmick. “So it’s best to leave the design clean and tailored” — and let the inevitable Magna-Tile castles and Matchbox car races be the flourishes.