Before & After

Blue Steel Chef's Kitchen by Block Brother Custom Cabinets

Photograph by Erin Little

A Foodie’s Fantasy

Before & After

This former chef’s kitchen used to be dark and dysfunctional; now he’s cooking in an open, family-friendly workspace

Maneuvering around Mason Masteka and Meredith Wood-Masteka’s Portland kitchen previously involved some tricky choreography. A person headed for the bathroom, located at the end of a narrow corridor that housed a refrigerator and pantry, frequently had to squeeze past a family member searching for a snack. If two people wanted to access the fridge and pantry at the same time, they had to negotiate who would go first, or “someone’s hand was going to get smashed” between the doors, Wood-Masteka says. Claiming the only counter space — a two-foot-long stretch of sparkly purple laminate — was also a give and take. “There was never an opportunity to share food-prep duties,” she says. 

The cabinets, painted in Dunn-Edwards’ Blue Steel, harmonize with the stainless steel elements and make the white subway tile pop.  Quarter-sawn white-oak shelving and maple floors warm the cool-toned space.

Designer/Contractor:
Block Brothers Custom Cabinets

Square Feet: 148

Renovation Cost: $55,000

Time It Took: 5 weeks

The couple, who live with sons Wyatt, 11, and Brooks, 6, saved for five years before enlisting Searsport contractor Ben Block to revamp their cramped cook space. Block conceived a wall of cabinetry, punctuated with a Bertazzoni gas stove and chimney range hood, where a little-used exterior door and clunky radiator used to be; the fridge moved from the corridor to an ell opposite a new fireclay sink. Masteka, a former professional chef who does “100 percent of the cooking,” selected the premium appliances and stainless steel countertops — a restaurant kitchen mainstay due to their heat and stain resistance.

Oak shelving, in lieu of pricier upper cabinets, lends an airy look and helped the couple stick to their budget without leaving them wanting for storage. “We have so much,” Wood-Masteka says, “that we have two drawers sitting empty!” 


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