After the pandemic fast-tracked their plan to move to Maine, Bostonites Brooke and Carter’s house search prioritized location over architectural prowess. Fortunately, the 1990 Colonial-style “box” in Kittery Point the couple (who asked that their surname be withheld) bought in 2020 was an ideal canvas for updates, says Kittery designer Amy Dutton. Working with Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s Haven Hill Builders, she punched up the exterior with dormers and a farmer’s porch. Inside, Dutton removed a wall to create an open living/kitchen/dining space, finished in Benjamin Moore’s Swiss Coffee, and “toned down” the living room’s stone chimney — Brooke’s request — with nickel-gap paneling. New doors and walnut shelves on the built-ins, a clear, matte poly on the oak floor, and comfy, clean-lined furnishings from Portsmouth’s Weekender House complete the room’s transition out of the Bush I era.
Dutton’s signature mudroom-storage solution: a “communication cabinet” (aka “the sh*$ shelf ”) comprising a large cupboard with an interior bulletin board for school papers and cubbies for the whole family — in this case, the couple and their 5- and 3-year-old daughters, Hadley and Blakely. “If you don’t provide the space, everything ends up on the kitchen island,” Dutton says. A herringbone porcelain-tile floor adds subtle texture, while Benjamin Moore’s Intrigue on the woodwork references the couple’s art — including a Gray Malin photograph of Cape Porpoise in the living room — and a matching pantry door in the kitchen.
The kitchen had been updated somewhat recently, but “it felt a little soulless,” Brooke says. “It didn’t have warmth or depth.” An 8-foot-long walnut island (with loads of storage at the right height for wee “helpers”) remedied that. Matching walnut shelves in lieu of upper cabinets allow for more airiness, while shimmery handmade clay tile, prized by Dutton for its wavy grout lines, and Serena & Lily mottled-concrete pendants offset the crispness of snowy quartz countertops and Shaker cabinets. “We wanted an open space where everyone can congregate when we have company, where the kids can help make pizzas on Friday nights,” Carter says — “a social focal point.”