Jessica Williamson, a designer with National Lumber's Kitchen Views Custom showroom in Newton, Mass., won second place in the Best Small Kitchens category at the National Kitchen and Bath Association's 2010 Design Competition. The strength of the Cape Cod project lies in Williamson's ability to merge a client's style with the efficient functionality needed in a kitchen.
Williamson earned her Kitchen and Bath and Interior Design degree from Boston Architectural College, and is a certified Associate Kitchen & Bath Designer by the NKBA. After working with architects and engineers for 10 years, she joined the Kitchen Views team, and has been there for three years.
As a designer, she tries to focus on what her customers want instead of specializing in a particular style, and this helped her gain the trust of the client of the award-winning project.
The customer was actually a walk-in, Williamson says, and wanted a kitchen with a specific look. To help clients visualize design options, Williamson keeps clippings from magazines. After taking a look at the photos, the client trusted that Williamson knew what she wanted.
"I had six different photos of that look. It was a vintage style and something I like a lot," Williamson says. "She told me I was the only designer she met who understood that look and what she was trying to go for."
The Cape Cod house serves as a year-round vacation home for the family. The owner wanted an open kitchen that would work well for entertaining and also compliment the ocean views visible from the kitchen. Additionally, she wanted to use green materials.
"She didn't want it to look like a kitchen," Williamson says. "She wanted to feel like it grew organically out of the rest of the house."
A blend of old and new materials helped execute the desired vintage look. An environmentally friendly beech countertop from reclaimed barn siding and a knotty alder island add warmth to the kitchen and balance out the white cabinetry. The seating in the kitchen also highlights the ocean view. Additionally, all the cabinetry, counters, and fixtures are recycled, reclaimed, no added formaldehyde, and locally made. However, Williamson stresses a design must function well to be successful.
Using more base cabinets than upper cabinets allows for storage while still giving the kitchen an open look. The placement of the range at a 45-degree angle and a prep sink on the curve of the island creates more usable space in the kitchen.
"If you are paying attention to the function, the design comes organically from that," Williamson says.