A Moody, Azure Kitchen in Brighton

Dusky shades up the cool factor in this cozy space, designed by Karen Swanson of New England Design Works.

The designer replaced a bay window that sat about 8 inches above the sink with a French window that is flush with the countertop and features a custom grille design. / Photo by Jared Kuzia

After the owner of this Brighton home finally grew weary of her 118-square-foot kitchen’s old appliances and deteriorating cabinets, she reached out to Karen Swanson of New England Design Works for help. The homeowner’s vision? “A kitchen that was more interesting and cool than ‘cute,’” the resident explains. That meant a moody space that would draw inspiration from both the stained-glass windows in the adjacent dining room and the rich hue of the stained gum and pine woodwork incorporated throughout the home. “A lot of people like white kitchens with white subway tile, but that was never going to be her,” Swanson says. “All of the areas in her home are [full of] dark corners with a really warm, cozy feel.”

The designer began the overhaul by installing Jet Mist honed-granite countertops, which she chose for their dusky shade and low-maintenance quality. Then, to prevent the space from appearing dismal, she offset the darker tone with a matte ceramic-tile backsplash and maple cabinetry coated in “Light Blue” from Farrow & Ball, which echoes the blue hues in the nearby stained-glass windows. The azure array continues with a patterned Nina Campbell wallcovering from Osborne & Little and swiveling velvet-upholstered barstools from West Elm at the center island, which is coated in Farrow & Ball’s “Down Pipe” and topped with an L-shaped piece of walnut wood that frames the granite top. “It all kind of works together,” Swanson says.

The painted maple cabinets feature glass inserts with leading that plays off the dark countertops and the aged-metal strapping on the range hood. / Photo by Jared Kuzia

Photo by Jared Kuzia


Appliances Sub-Zero refrigerator, Miele dishwasher, and BlueStar range, all Yale Appliance + Lighting.
Backsplash Sonoma Tilemakers “Picket Fence” ceramic tile, Tile by Design.
Countertops Jet Mist granite, Ripano Stoneworks.
Wallcovering Nina Campbell “Coromandel,” Osborne & Little.


Cabinetry New England Custom Cabinetry
Contractor Nick Portnoy Builders
Interior Designer New England Design Works
Stained Glass Jim Anderson Stained Glass

Originally, the home-owner’s cooktop was on the center island. Swanson relocated it to make the island a more comfortable seating area, free from heat and steam.

See the rest of the Kitchens Guide 2019.