House Peek of the Week – Kitchen Make Over

When kitchen style maven and designer, Susan Serra, was called to redo this plain kitchen in New England, she was thrilled. Her forte, after all, is taking nothing and making it into something extraordinary.

The challenge?
To take this long shaped room and create a seaside, updated country kitchen on a budget. This kitchen needed to be a cook’s kitchen that could accommodate a growing family of five plus tons of friends and guests. Serra, who has been published numerous times, is a success because she actually listens to what her clients want. This time was no different. She delivered.



Serra created the large black hutch for easy access to cooking ingredients, plates and bowls.

Serra created the large black hutch for easy access to cooking ingredients, plates and bowls.

The What They Did List:

1 – The first thing Serra did was structural. She changed the original windows to a bank of three, eliminate a sliding door and replaced it with a wide multi-pane door instead. This gave enough wall space to put in a long counter which ends in a full black hutch as well as bringing in some much needed natural light.

2- Serra conveniently placed the large black hutch, which houses easy to reach cooking ingredients, plates and bowls, next to the range.

3- The island was created as a work surface and a spot to pull a stool up to grab a quick bite. The counters are solid teak from Viet Nam and fabricated in Denmark by Kobenhavn Designs.

4- The old 19th century meat rack was found rusted hanging from a ceiling in an antique store on Route 1 in Wells, Maine. After stripping it and applying a few coats of some good old black Rustoleum paint, it now serves as pot rack.

5- Moldings and paint can transform a house. Here, thick cornice moldings were used and a very high ‘chair’ or ‘picture’ rail was applied. The use of a mellow straw colored yellow by Devine Color above the railing and white below keeps the space updated and looking clean.


Where they did and did not Spent the Money List:

The Sub-zero full refrig and freezers are built in; the Wolf stove has a French Cook-top in the center

The Sub-zero full refrig and freezers are built in


1- There was no space nor were over the counter cabinets wanted. This was a key place to save money by limiting the amount of cabinetry used. The simple cabinet style, ‘Nantucket’ was made by Quality Custom Cabinetry. For additional storage, two walk in food pantries for dry goods and kitchen extras were created instead.


the Wolf stove has a French Cook-top in the center

2- Instead of spending big money on hardware, round wooden knobs that can be purchased at any hardware store for a few dollars each were used. After a little Minwax stain and urethane sealer, the knobs look authentic and fantastic.

3- The floors are Brazilian walnut from Lumber Liquidators. Not only are they beautiful, but they are easy to keep, have a 50 year warranty and are less expensive than a tile floor. As a matter of fact, they were so cost effective, the entire house was done in this wood.

4. Money was spent on top grade appliances but not every do-hickey invented was bought. Unlike many new kitchens, there are not two sinks, a warming drawer, hi-tech microwaves and a built flat screen television, but only a great range, refrigerator and freezer and dishwasher.

5- Get the marble back splash look behind the stove for less than few hundred dollars. The marble squares are 12″ x 12″ from Home Depot to the tune of $12. each. Looks expensive – right?


There is a mindset you have to have going into a kitchen remodel.  Set a budget and add 20% on for unforeseeable expenses; stay true to your ‘style’ and be prepared to be without a kitchen for a couple or three months . Make a list of ‘must haves’ and be flexible on everything else.  Serra was able to create this hard-working kitchen loaded with charm that way and you could, too.



The Kitchen Designer

Susan Serra, a leader in the Kitchen Design community, has been chosen to be published in numerous publications. Her blog, is full of ideas and resources. Be sure to check out both sites. Her facebook name is Susan Serra Associates, Inc. and her twitter name is SusanSerraCKD.

Susan Serra CKD

Resource List:

Photography by Tria Giovan

Flooring: Lumber Liquidators
Cabinetry: Quality Custom Cabinetry
Blinds: Christalina Mahogany Matchstick Blinds
Teak: Kobenhavn Design, NY
Appliances: Sub-zero and Wolf Range
Stools: Bed, Bath and Beyond
Table: Vietnamese Rubberwood from Pier One
Benches: Pottery Barn
Rug: Dash & Albert
Pot Rack: Antique found in Wells, Maine on Route 1
Tiles: Marble 12″ x 12″ – Home Depot
Lighting over the sink: Pottery Barn
Shade over the table: Base from Home Depot, Shade from Restoration Hardware Outlet
Paint- Devine Color

All photographs and materials are reproduced with the permission of REMODEL MAGAZINE, Better Homes & Gardens, Meredith Corporation

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