My Kitchen, My CanvasWritten by Reed Richardson / June, 2010
Artist Teresa Spinner channeled all her creative energies into the design of her elegant new kitchen.
WHEN TERESA AND RICHARD SPINNER DECIDED TO RELOCATE THE kitchen within their historic 250-year-old New Hampshire house, adding more space and getting more functionality out of their home’s natural gathering area were important goals. But designing a warm, inviting area where children and grandchildren could easily congregate and where visiting friends from Europe could be casually entertained weren’t the only objectives. For Teresa, a classically trained portrait artist, the creation of a new kitchen was also an opportunity to satisfy her painterly sensibilities, affording her yet another canvas on which to combine striking elements of color and detail.
“Everywhere in my house I have original paintings and still lifes hanging on the walls,” Teresa explains. “So I’m all about wall space and color, and that was what I was thinking about when we began planning to move the old kitchen.”
Such a complicated, in-house relocation project might be a daunting task for some homeowners. The Spinners, however, are no strangers to tackling home renovations. Thanks to Richard’s career as a network TV executive, the couple spent much of the past few decades hopscotching across the U.S. and Europe, remodeling homes along the way. And still today, the Spinners maintain this itinerant lifestyle, splitting time between Europe, Florida, and New England. “We’ve lived in a lot of places,” explains Teresa. “But wherever we’ve lived, we’ve always taken what was there and made it our own.”
This was especially the case with this house, a charming circa.- 1760 Cape in the tiny village of Sanbornton. Before moving in 18 years ago, they spent six months gutting the home and essentially rebuilding the infrastructure from the frame out. Since then, they had even built two new attached additions to the home—a long, singleroom art studio for her and a roughly 1,000 square-foot office with accompanying fireplace for him—but still hadn’t been able to address the kitchen’s obvious shortcomings.
“At this point in our lives we have a lot of family and friends that come to visit and the old kitchen was really kind of small and broken up from the rest of the house.” Describing herself as a very social person, Teresa says she grew frustrated with having to be squirreled away from her guests in the home’s cramped, galley-style kitchen. But it wasn’t until recently, when her now retired husband agreed to sacrifice his increasingly underutilized office space, that her desire for a larger, more connected kitchen came to fruition. And from the outset, Teresa’s artistic style served as the driving inspiration for the project.
“I found this old book in England on color that featured a wonderful set of cabinets painted in this cerulean blue, with just a touch of gold along the edge,” recalls Teresa. “It looked very old and Shakerlike and we just went from there.” That ‘we’ included local designer Maria Perron, from Village House Interiors, who eventually matched the distinctive blue color (Benjamin Moore’s Saratoga Springs) and found a carpenter who could closely replicate the same antique Shaker construction style of the cabinets.
“I say that Teresa was in her ‘blue’ period when we did this renovation,” jokes Perron. And while the cabinet’s dusky light blue surfaces are clearly one of the most striking focal points of the new space, Perron points out that the thin traces of golden trim also play a key role. “Those yellow, butterscotch highlights help join the cabinets thematically with the main house,” she explains, complementing the many wooden stained surfaces in the addition’s exposed, postand- beam construction. “As a result, all those blues and the browns go together well.”
Likewise, when it came time to choose surfaces for the new kitchen’s counter, island, and adjacent dining area’s banquette, the pair let color and a nod toward period-correct detail drive their decision. As a result, they settled on Cambria quartz surfaces, both because of their architectural similarity to hewed stone, a popular Colonial-era construction material, and the wide range of consistent hues. “I wanted a more muted color for the countertops to set off the cabinets and other kitchen details,” explains Teresa, “so the two different Cambria quartz styles I chose were perfect as kind of a background color.” (Park Gate, which was used on the kitchen counter and dining room banquette, and Windsor, which covers the kitchen island, are both from the Quarry Collection.)
“With Cambria, I saw what the material was ahead of time and knew it wouldn’t vary in grain or color once it came time to install it. Down in Florida, I have granite and that’s fine, but it’s so much work and it’s never turns out exactly the way you want it,” Teresa explains, sounding very much like someone who spends her days giving great thought to things like color consistency and the proper composition of every inch on a canvas. “I knew exactly how I wanted to use [Cambria] in the space and I think it worked out perfectly.”
Attaining the new kitchen’s open, airy feel—a key goal of the renovation—was achieved mainly by putting the cabinets and appliances solely along the two inside walls of the L-shaped space. This ensured that the space’s dramatic fireplace and many tall windows, which line three sides of the addition, are visible from almost any point in the room. “We have a lovely greenhouse visible out of one side of the room and we can sit and occasionally watch the bears outside through the other set of windows,” Teresa says. “It’s still a rather compact kitchen, but now we have an island and all this extra space from the fireplace around to the dining area that we didn’t before.”
To keep a proper balance of old and new, false-front cabinet doors covered the new kitchen’s side-by-side refrigerator, to prevent a giant swath of black or stainless steel color from overwhelming the surrounding cabinetry’s cerulean blue theme. The Spinners did allow for some more readily apparent contemporary touches to be mixed in, though. The choice to reuse the black induction cooktop in the new kitchen, rather than install more period-correct gas burners, is an obviously modern touch, but one that is nonetheless muted by the surrounding countertop’s similarly dark color.
“Overall, it’s really a blend of new and old in a really neat way that won’t go out of style,” explains Perron. “We made everything look like it had always been there.”
For her part, Teresa couldn’t be more satisfied with how the kitchen relocation turned out, especially when she has a room full of friends and grandchildren scattered about the new space, figures composing a portrait that is anything but a still life. “It’s just a really comfortable space and everybody loves to be in there, which is all that I ever wanted.”
Designer Maria Perron talks about the details that brought it all together “I like to use themes more than once in a room or space to make it look like the design was really thought about,” explains Perron. “But I like to put in these elements in an unexpected way.” And in the Spinners’ new kitchen, the wooden shelving unit Perron had custom made and installed over the stove top (2) serves as the way to harmonize many of the disparate parts of the space. 1. The conical rosettes, protruding triglyphs, and ornate cornices on the antique bookcase in the far corner are repeated on the entablature of the shelves over the stovetop. 2. The period-appropriate beadboard found on the inside vertical surfaces of the shelves is also used on the outside vertical surfaces of the island facing the fireplace. 3. The antique pewter plates on display in the shelves echo the brushed metallic patina of the kitchen island sink fixtures. 4. The shelving unit’s reddish-brown stain links it with the similarly-colored Shaker table and sideboard found around the corner in the dining area.