Kitchen Reno

Stealing the Show

Kitchen Reno

For my first job after college, I worked at In Style magazine in New York as an editorial assistant — a role that encompassed answering phones, ordering lunch, fact-checking, writing short pieces, and covering celebrity events. At 23, I didn’t excel at these tasks, and routinely hung up on callers when attempting to connect them, forgot to ask for no cilantro on behalf of an editor who loathed the herb, and turned in five-paragraph essays to superiors who needed succinct, quippy copy. My performance in red carpet press areas and at who’s who parties was also subpar. Too shy to blurt out many questions, and generally overcome with a desire to be back in my apartment watching Sex and the City in my pajamas, I let the more assertive People and EW reporters do most of the talking. I did manage some softballs though, one of the first ones being to Nicole Kidman when she was promoting the movie Moulin Rouge!. Not one to put celebrities on a pedestal (I’m a Mainer after all), I was nevertheless starstruck when I met Kidman. Poised, polite, and dazzling to behold, she seemed to outshine everyone else at the event.

In our house, the new kitchen, even in its unfinished state, feels like the architectural equivalent of Nicole Kidman: everything else pales in comparison. Ben’s cabinetry and the birch flooring are far more beautiful than their counterparts elsewhere. And the lighting we installed makes them even more so. I’ve written stories about the importance of having multiple light sources in a room, and Sanford Fogg, of Fogg Lighting in Portland, underscored the point in a recent column we ran here. But it wasn’t until I lived with a layering of dimmable recessed, under-cabinet, and pendant fixtures that I truly understood how lovely, and functional, well-rounded lighting can be. Our other rooms, which are mostly illuminated by lamps and, in some cases, a single overhead fixture, feel dull and shadowy by comparison. So, an upgrade of our 1930s lighting plan is now on the priority list. Looking back, I think we’ll come to view this kitchen as the facelift that launched a thousand projects.

The photo, above, shows our newly installed Simon Pearce pendants, which have a glam-industrial vibe I love so much, I’m okay with the constant Windexing they will likely require. And, look: We have a stove and refrigerator! This was the scene in the kitchen yesterday. Everyone has been working so hard to make this project happen.



  1. Jan C

    This is looking absolutely fantastic! Great planning is paying off for you!

    • Sarah Stebbins

      Aw, thanks Jan! And thank you for reading!

  2. Nancy

    I looks just beautiful, Sarah! Now that you are so experienced, maybe you will come and help me with mine!

    • Sarah Stebbins

      Thank you Nancy! Check out the finished photos on the newest blog post, too. We are so pleased with the way it turned out. Happy to help answer any questions. I likely do not know most of the answers but probably know someone who does. 🙂 Send photos when you’re finished!

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