This Kitchen Went From Cramped and Confused To Large and Bright

A husband-and-wife team of architects update their kitchen to contemporary while seamlessly merging it with their home’s historic past.

Photo by Sean Litchfield

After years of existing with a cramped, confused kitchen in their historic Cambridge condo, Boston-area architects Belinda Watt and Michael O’Keefe were looking to create something that better fit their lifestyle. “It hadn’t been updated since the early seventies,” O’Keefe says. “Because we were slowly renovating different parts of the house, and living with that kitchen for many years,” Watt adds, “we realized what the problems were and how we wanted to use it.”

Previously three rooms—kitchen, pantry, and butler’s pantry—all were combined into one simplified space while still maintaining elements of the building’s 125-year-old history in the adjoining dining room. “We wanted the kitchen to be bright, welcoming, larger, and tie the spaces [together],” Watt says. To achieve this, everything was cleared off along the wall connecting two of the rooms, a small bar and fridge were installed between them as a common thread, and a glass door was added to bring in more light.

For the cabinetry, millwork, and counters, the pair turned to the team at Scavolini, who installed wood surfaces in a knotted oak finish. “We definitely enjoy [the new kitchen]. It’s much more peaceful than the chaotic space it was before,” Watt says. “There’s nothing like when you have to wait and earn that—then you’re grateful for it every day.”