Go Coastal With This Stylish, Beachy Kitchen Renovation

The light-filled Mamaroneck kitchen gives new meaning to the phrase mise en place.

Sometimes the design for a new kitchen stems from what the homeowner doesn’t want. The Cohen family of Mamaroneck had one mandate for their designer: not all white. “I’ve done that before, and I realized it wasn’t very practical,” says homeowner Gabby Cohen. “So that was the challenge: How do you do something that’s not a white kitchen but still feels bright and light?”

Designer Sarah Robertson of Studio Dearborn met the directive with a clean, organic design that riffs on the family’s favorite feature of their prewar brick Colonial — its location close to the water. “We love the fact that we live near a nature preserve and can see the tidal creek and the Sound from our house,” Cohen says. “We wanted to have that tie into the kitchen, and I feel like we did that with the coastal look.”

The coastal element comes from the cerused, rift-sawn white oak used throughout the space. It has a beachy appearance (and echoes the oak trees in the backyard) yet is practical, thanks to a varnish that seals the wood to keep it free of stains and nicks. Most of the cabinetry is crafted from oak, and that material is continued in a nod-to-nautical shiplap, used for the island and as a backsplash for the breakfast bar. To make room for the new kitchen, the family added about 250 square feet, and new cathedral ceilings help bring in natural light. On the wall opposite the windows that overlook the backyard and water, Robertson finished the breakfast bar area with lighter cabinetry (painted with Benjamin Moore’s pale-gray Nimbus), which adds to the feeling of light in the kitchen, as does the white stone-look backsplash behind the stove and the custom range hood.

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Convenient features — such as a beverage refrigerator, a drawer for cooking trays and platters, a deep pullout for cereal boxes, and a built-in nook for paper towels next to the hand-washing sink — were important for this family of five. “People think about kitchen design in terms of which cabinet fits where,” says Robertson. “I’m about having the contents be what you need, right where you need them. We go drawer by drawer to figure out where we’re putting everything. I keep that as a map. Then, when the cabinets arrive, I give that map back to the homeowners, so they remember where we planned on putting everything.” For the Cohens that means a silverware drawer in the island — where the family eats many of their meals — a drawer for plastic wrap and foil next to the Sub-Zero fridge and a “garage” cabinet to conceal the Magic Bullet juicer that the family use every day.    

Countertops throughout the kitchen have the look of marble, but they’re actually White Macaubas quartzite, a super-durable material that wipes clean even if one of the teens spills blueberry juice or leaves strawberries on the counter while making a smoothie. All of these practical elements, combined with the distinctive, serene design, make the kitchen a true hub.

“It’s really a great gathering space,” says Cohen. “It’s where we spend most of our time as a family.”   

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