Contractor's Cook Space: Before

With Seth as general contractor, Rafe as designer, and Kelly as co-client, the kitchen could have veered toward luxe. But the home's low-key style turned out to be the design's big idea. "Too often, kitchens are overbuilt," says Rafe. "We wanted one that would follow the spirit of the house." The result: simple Shaker cabinets, white-washed beadboard walls, and an island cantilevered to allow guests to pull up an extra stool or two.

Now, says Seth, "the family is there all the time." And no wonder. "We see a lot of kitchens," he notes. "It's refreshing to walk into one that is bright, clean, and crisp."

Shown: Dark finishes and a low ceiling contributed to the downbeat feel.
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